For information, the Gambling Commission want to share an issue recently raised with the Commission by a solicitor on behalf of one of their clients. Our response may be of interest to HLA members.
It concerns social responsibility code provision 3.5.3(8):
“Customers must be given the opportunity to self-exclude by contacting customer services and in addition by entering an automated process using remote communication. In order to avoid inadvertent self-exclusion it is acceptable for an automated process to include an additional step that requires the customer to confirm that they wish to self-exclude. The licensee must ensure that all staff who are involved in direct customer service are aware of the self-exclusion system in place, and are able to direct that individual to an immediate point of contact with whom/which to complete that process.”
The arrangements in place by their client involved a link to click on, which leads to a form which the player has to print and fill in (name of charity, name of player, address, signature and date) and then send back by post or email. The question was whether that arrangement is compliant, or whether the process needs to be more “automated.
In response the Commission confirmed that we expect all operators, including remote and non remote lotteries to comply with the principle that self-exclusion processes are made as straightforward and simple as possible for customers wishing to self-exclude. In relation to the application of 3.5.3(8), it applies to all remote operators including society lotteries and ELMs who hold full and ancillary remote licences. It was previously an ordinary code and was upgraded to a social responsibility code provision following the review of social responsibility measures in the LCCP in 2014/15, it came into force in October 2015.
in relation to the specific question about their clients automated self exclusion process, the code at 3.5.3(8) does not detail the exact process but the intention is that a customer can self-exclude in a simple and straightforward way. A process where a person who wishes to self-exclude clicks on a link, which leads to a form where the player has to complete their details and then send back by post or email is an example of something that the Commission would not consider an automated process.
The requirement is primarily aimed at remote gambling operators (including lottery operators) who offer on-line gambling via a website. However, given the way that most remote lotteries operate – simply receiving low-level, regular subscription payment details by telephone or email and that the take-up of self-exclusion in the lottery sector is very low, it was possibly an error to have applied this provision to all lotteries. We will therefore seek approval (internally initially and possibly subject to consultation if agreed internally) to amend LCCP at a suitable time in the future to exempt remote lotteries which do not offer gambling via a website or do not offer on-line instant win lotteries or other types of remote lotteries involving repetitive play from this provision.
In the meantime, we would be very unlikely to take compliance action against an otherwise compliant lottery operator who did not offer gambling via a website or instant win lotteries and who had not made available a fully automated self-exclusion process.