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Affordability checks are coming, whether gaming operators are ready or not

Keeping players safe online is right for players and gambling operators. All participants in the gambling industry have a social responsibility to create this safe environment.

Affordability, or the question of how much money can a player afford to spend on gambling, is a key part of this safe environment.

Verifying the identity of a new customer is an essential part of onboarding a new customer however it doesn’t tell the operator how much they can afford to spend. Asking the customer to provide documentary evidence of income creates friction for the customer, requires manual checking by the operator and is open to abuse by the customer - is it a genuine document?

In its 2018/19 Enforcement report the Gambling Commission highlighted the need for a better understanding by operators of how much disposable income their customers have, to provide a guide for gambling spend:

It said: “In conclusion, we would recommend that operators revisit their framework on triggers and consider their customer base and their disposable income levels as a starting point for deciding benchmark triggers. This would help ensure vulnerable customers are identified as early as possible and interacted with appropriately.”

The recent Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group’s Final Report of the Inquiry into Online Gambling Harm took a firm stance on affordability, saying: “Affordability limits must be set and imposed by the Gambling Commission based on a clear understanding of what is affordable to online users taking into account the gambler’s income, outgoings and circumstances.”

Digital affordability checks create a powerful, frictionless, way to assess a customer’s ability to pay and play.

Statistical, demographic data can be deployed in the first instance to provide a view of affordability. For granular, individual, customer level checks then current account turnover provides a view of funds in and out of a current account to verify the stated income. Of course, this check is only undertaken with the customer’s consent.

Using this data, a gambling operator can take a considered view as to how much money they can allow a customer to spend before imposing restrictions.

'Now is the time'

Affordability checks can also contribute to identifying potentially fraudulent customer behaviour, for example using gambling to launder the proceeds of crime, by identifying unusual spend patterns.

GBG Senior Business Development Manager Rebekah Jackson said: “Rather than waiting for the Gambling Commission to impose affordability checks, now is the time to protect your customers and your business by implementing digital affordability checks when customers sign up or their spend behaviour changes.”


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