Another year draws to a close in much the same way as it began, with regulators, operators, and industry figures locked in earnest arguments about financial risk checks.
As is traditional at this time of year, we’re looking ahead and taking an educated guess at what the next 12 months is likely to bring when it comes to the general topic of player protection in gambling. Some of this may end up appearing laughably wide of the mark this time next year, but a good deal probably won’t.
So without further ado, here are four predictions for 2024 from Tom Farrell, Chief Marketing Officer at ClearStake
In with a bullet at number one is our old reliable ‘nothing’. More specifically, I predict that in December 2024 we will have no conclusive guidance around how financial risk checks should be conducted, no agreed system mandated by the UK Gambling Commission will be in place, and we will be pretty much where we are today.
Think about it. A petition of over 100,000 signatures opposing affordability checks has successfully been presented to the government, meaning further debate must happen in parliament. We’re still no nearer a clear understanding of when and how these checks will be introduced, and to cap it all off, 2024 is an election year.
I would be amazed if there was significantly more clarity in December 2024 than there is now. What I do know is that the requirement to perform these checks, which exists right now, will not go away. And I don’t think a Labour government would reverse the direction of travel either. If anything, it will accelerate it.
In terms of what all this means, it’s simple. Don’t spend another 12 months haemorrhaging customers when conducting financial checks while you wait for the UK Government to do something. Act now to put fast and secure processes in place that retain as many customers as possible.
Single checks become normalised
One thing we have noticed on our travels is the growing realisation that source of funds and financial vulnerability checks essentially involve looking at the same documents at roughly the same point in the customer journey. But despite this, government, regulators and opinion formers still struggle to consider them as a single ‘job’.
We think that will change. By considering all checks that involve the viewing of financial data (bank statements) as a single task, it is possible to greatly simplify the customer journey. Indeed, the technology to perform these checks in a fast and secure manner exists today, and there is no reason why this data cannot be gathered at ANY point in the customer journey, including at onboarding. We expect the language to evolve further, to a point where we talk about “financial compliance checks” or similar. And not before time!
Open Banking adoption continues to grow
A quiet revolution is happening in the UK. Despite the (admittedly less frequent) ‘Open Banking is failing to take off’ articles most of us are familiar with, in the real world the British public are demonstrating they are perfectly open to the idea.
In 2023, over 11% of British consumers used Open Banking. Compared with the previous year, payments over Open Banking more than doubled. Almost every operator now supports, and indeed actively encourages, the use of Open Banking for deposits and withdrawals.
And yet we still hear individuals and organisations who really should know better opinioning that the public isn’t ready to use Open Banking. At this stage, that opinion is beginning to look a little silly. When the use of Open Banking doubles again in 2024, we will probably see the end of it. Open Banking remains a huge benefit to consumers and businesses alike, not only in the area of financial vulnerability checks.
International efforts increase
A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that the UK stands alone in wanting to manage the potential harm that comes with man’s inalienable right to gamble. But nothing could be further from the truth. All over the world, the responsible gambling narrative is gaining ground, and it will only accelerate in 2024.
In terms of major markets, expect the first serious moves around financial vulnerability in both Australia and the US (or more specifically, within individual states that will then set the tone for the US market). The conversation has already begun, and 2024 will be the year when UK-type regulation starts to kick in and operators will be expected not just to establish that funds are from a legitimate source, but also that any given bettor’s behaviour is sustainable.
In conclusion, whilst ‘nothing’ might be happening in one sense in the UK, a whole lot of change can be expected globally. Probably. Don’t forget to bookmark this piece and get back to me in 12 months to let me know how wrong I was….
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