New guidelines related to VIP gambling schemes in the UK have been welcomed by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). 

The UK Gambling Commission has announced that operators will need to adhere to various new measures from the end of October. 

Not long ago, the BGC unveiled a new code of conduct which resulted in a drop of over two-thirds in VIP scheme enrollments.

What will soon be enforced? 

From 31st October, UK operators must conduct rigorous background checks on all customers before they are signed up. Moreover, senior managers will have a duty to oversee and run VIP programmes “in a fully-transparent way”. 

As part of customers’ background checks, operators must determine where the individual is getting the money from to gamble. Their funds must be from their disposable income, and their spending needs to be affordable for their current life situation. 

Customers enrolled in VIP schemes must have their gambling behaviours monitored, with potential problems addressed.

BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “The BGC, working with the Gambling Commission, has taken tough action on VIP accounts, including the introduction of a strict new code of conduct which has seen the number of players enrolled in them reduced by 70%. 

“The code restricts anyone aged under 25 from taking part, while any customer considered for a VIP reward programme must first pass rigorous safer gambling checks and be subject to ongoing checks on their betting behaviour. 

“Reward programmes must be overseen by senior management and conducted in a clear and transparent way to prevent any betting-related harm. Operators are also banned from incentivising customers based on losses. 

“This is further evidence of our commitment to driving up standards within our industry.”

UKGC urges industry to continue future safeguarding 

Senior managers tasked with overseeing VIP schemes need to hold a personal management licence (PML) before being allowed to do so. 

UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur spoke in more depth about the incoming changes. He warned that if gambling operators do not upkeep player safety measures, stricter regulations may arise in the future. 

“We have introduced these new rules to stamp out malpractice in the management of ‘VIP’ customers and to make gambling safer. Our enforcement work has identified too many cases of misconduct in the management of VIP schemes and this is the last chance for operators to show they can operate such schemes appropriately,” he said. 

“Operators can be in no doubt about our expectations. If significant improvements are not made, we will have no choice but to take further action and ban such schemes. These new rules are part of the Commission’s comprehensive programme of tougher enforcement and compliance activity which has also seen the introduction strengthened protections around online age and ID verification, improved customer interaction practices, and the banning of gambling on credit cards.”

The UKGC has also mentioned that it will soon launch a consultation related to customer interaction. Topics covered will include how affordability is assessed, ways that vulnerable individuals are identified and how to minimise risks by taking action before problem gambling spirals out of control.