UKGC pushes reminder on free-to-play regulations

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UK’s watchdog for gambling regulations the Gambling Commission (UKGC) has recently released a reminder to all licensed gambling platforms regarding age verification rules on free-to-play games. The reminder states that all licensees are responsible for checking that their affiliates are working under these regulations, and thereby reducing the chance of underage users accessing this part of the casino’s platform.

This reminder comes following the recent tightening to age verification regulations that the UKGC applied to all licensed gambling operators this May. This clampdown ensured that all remote licensees had effective age verification tactics in place to ensure all customers were of age before having access to the gambling operator’s free-to-play games.

The UKGC have stated that licensees should “take steps immediately to ensure that your free-to-play games cannot be accessed by children and young people via affiliate’s websites.” In a bid to protect one of society’s most vulnerable, and therefore most likely to be at risk of problem gambling.

In this revision of regulations that took play in May, the UKGC also pushed for improvements in keeping their users’ identities and forms of contact as accurate as possible, stating that “from Tuesday 7 May if an operator has not yet verified the name, address and date of birth of any customer, they will need to have completed verification before allowing that customer to gamble.’ And that ‘operators will, therefore, need to prevent any unverified customer from gambling until they have gone through the verification process”

Upon issuing this reminder, the UKGC have commented that it “has been made aware that licensees may be benefiting from affiliate advertising models, which offer free-to-play versions of real money games on their websites without the necessary accompanying age verification of users”.

In addition to this, the UKGC have made further comments in media releases, reminding all licensed gambling operators of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) that they must adhere to. These codes of practices state that “Licensees are responsible for the actions of third parties with whom they contract for the provision of any aspect of the licensee’s business related to the licensed activities.”

In addition to this, those licensed must ensure that any affiliated third parties must “conduct themselves in so far as they carry out activities on behalf of the licensee as if they were bound by the same license conditions and subject to the same codes of practice as the licensee.” What this means is that all licensed gambling operators must check that their affiliates are working under the LCCP’s requirements, particularly regarding free-to-play games.

Games with free bonuses or deposits are usually subject to wagering requirements or limits, where players have to use a certain number of spins or the maximum winning amount is capped, to ensure that casino operators are not giving away free money.

This may mean that many of these gambling operators will have to revise their advertising tactics so that they adhere to the regulations instilled in the LCCP. The new requirements established by the UKGC via the LCCP are not applicable to such methods of advertising as pictures and videos of the gambling operator’s games, as these are not interactive, and therefore pose significantly less of a risk of promoting these games to underage

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