Embracing the spirit of regulation


This is a guest contribution by Benno Spencer. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you. 

Benno Spencer, founder of Raffle House, says that operators should embrace the spirit of the law as well as its letter to ensure they are properly protecting players and meeting the highest standards.

Despite being one of the most heavily regulated and monitored sectors in the U.K, online gambling operators continue to breach the requirements set out by the Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling Commission.

embracing-the-spirit-of-regulationThese breaches are not just limited to new businesses entering the market for the first time but some of the most established and experienced organisations who are also found to be failing in areas such as responsible gambling, anti-money laundering and fraud.

So why is this happening?

It could be argued that the tightening of rules and changes to ‘Know Your Customer’ requirements have caught some off-guard but, in reality, I believe it is due to the way in which operators approach licensing and regulation.

There are two ways this can be done. The first is to consider just the letter of the law and the second is to also consider the spirit of the law. The first means following the rules simply as they are written and the second means taking this to the next level.

All gambling companies must follow the letter of the law to ensure that they are compliant with the rules and requirements laid out by the Gambling Commission. However, by embracing the spirit of the law as well, operators can ensure they are meeting the highest possible standards.

This means analysing regulations as well as using common sense and identifying areas that the operator can do more in order to provide the best possible experience to players while also being honest, transparent and trustworthy.

This is what we have done with Raffle House, a gambling company that offers its customers the chance to win property or life changing cash prizes. We are subject to certain laws within the Gambling Act 2005, which sets out clear rules for the mechanic we must use to operate our prize draw.

That said, we are not required to, and cannot, obtain a licence from the U.K. Gambling Commission. Of course, we still want to meet the highest possible standards when it comes to responsible gambling and also want to be seen as trustworthy and transparent by our customers.

To do this, we have chosen to follow the letter of the law but also to embrace the spirit of the law. We believe it is the best approach and one that online and offline gambling operators that are licensed by the Gambling Commission could and should adopt.

So how can gambling businesses embrace the spirit of the law?

Provide additional tools for managing play:

Operators are required to provide players with the option to set limits for deposits, withdrawals, losses and so on. But it is just as important to make players aware of these tools. To do this, operators should require players to set limits on opening their accounts and before they deposit.

They should also create detailed guides about how these tools work and provide information about why players should use them. In addition to this, operators should give players access to their playing history and data, and automatically notify them if their playing habits are changing.

For example, Raffle House imposes limits on the number of purchases a customer can make per competition and clearly shows each customer their purchasing history within their individual accounts.

We believe the spending limit lessens the chance that any single player will overreach their level of spending comfortability but also sets us up to fall well outside any potential anti-money laundering schemes.

Work closely with gambling addiction charities:

While U.K-licensed operators are not required to work with gambling charities such as begambleaware.org and feature their logos and links to their sites prominently on their homepages and in other marketing, it makes a great deal of sense to do so; reminding their customers to be watchful and thoughtful about what they are spending is simply the right thing to do.

To take this to the next level, operators should talk to or meet with representatives from these charities to learn more about their work and what more could be done to improve how operators approach responsible gambling and deal with those at risk of, or suffering from, problem play.

It is also important to support these charities financially as they rely on donations to deliver the excellent services they provide. This is something Raffle House feels strongly about and we donate to begambleaware.org.

Customer support must be 24/7: 

The Gambling Commission does not require operators to provide 24/7 customer support but those looking to go above and beyond the letter of the law should. Operators tend to accept customers from around the world with players accessing games around the clock.

If those players encounter a technical issue, have a question or query or, more importantly, wish to speak to someone about their gambling activity and it potentially being problematic, they need to be able to communicate with customer support agents at any time.

What’s more, customer support should not be limited to email – today, most people wish to communicate via live chat or even social media, so operators should offer this as route one. At Raffle House, our customer support is 24/7 and is available across live chat, email, and social media.

Make sure players read and understand T&Cs:

The biggest thing operators can do when it comes to embracing the spirit of the law is to ensure that their terms and conditions are fair but also easy to read. T&Cs documents are often long and complex and require legal knowledge to fully understand.

Those embracing the spirit of the law should simplify documents and make sure they can be easily understood by players. They should also make sure players read T&Cs before they are able to create an account, deposit and wager.

At Raffle House, customers have to read and scroll to the bottom of our terms and conditions before they are able to proceed with purchasing a ticket. Of course, we can’t guarantee they have read the document word for word, but we are doing everything we can to give them the chance to.

These are just a few ways that online gambling operators can embrace the spirit of the law and do more to ensure they are not just meeting the rules and requirements set out by the Gambling Commission but exceeding them.

This not only mitigates the risk of operators falling foul of regulations and being hit with big fines and the reputational damage they bring, but it will also allow them to offer a much better experience to players whilst improving trust and loyalty.

About the author:

Benno Spencer is the founder of Raffle House.