RSPH, which is soon to establish a Gambling Health Alliance (GHA), welcomes the announcement from the Gambling Commission of new rules for online operators to make gambling fairer and safer.

Currently online operators have 72 hours to carry out age verification checks. The new rules, which come into force on 7 May 2019, aim to protect children from gambling harm by ensuring operators verify customer age before they can deposit funds into an account or gamble with either their own money or a free bet bonus. 

The Health on the High Street report published by RSPH highlights young people face an unprecedented level of exposure to gambling, with over 400,000 11-16 year olds spending their own money gambling each week. 

The updated rules will require online gambling operators to:

  • Verify, as a minimum, the name, address and date of birth of a customer before allowing them to gamble
  • Ask for any additional verification information promptly
  • Inform customers, before they can deposit funds, of the types of identity documents or other information that might be required, the circumstances in which the information might be required, and how it should be supplied to the licensee
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that information on their customers’ identities remains accurate

The Commission is also calling for customers to be age verified before they can access free-to-play versions of gambling games online and for these gambling free-to-play games to be made unavailable to children.

In 2019 RSPH will establish a Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) with the support of GambleAware. The Alliance which will initially be established for three years, has the primary objective of bringing together organisations and individuals, specifically policy makers, who have a shared interest in reducing the damage caused to health and wellbeing from gambling. The Alliance will seek to:

  • Highlight the rising concerns about gambling related harms
  • Engage and influence policy makers, Government, NGOs and the public health community in order to encourage positive action
  • Promote evidence so it can be translated into practical steps
  • Undertake periodic surveys and polling to inform GHA campaigns to increase awareness of the health harms from gambling

Shirley Cramer, CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH said: “The new rules which require operators to check someone’s age before they gamble, and not after, are a welcome step in the right direction when protecting our children and young people from exposure to gambling and its related harms.

With 18% of the population gambling online, online operators have a duty of care to protect all customers, particularly those most vulnerable, and must step up and implement these new rules as a matter of urgency. 

We look forward to establishing the Gambling Health Alliance which seeks to work with industry, including online operators, to provide a forum where we can foster collaboration and share good practice amongst all relevant stakeholders to increase our understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors that contribute to gambling harms and the inequalities in health caused by this.”