Report: UK accessibility checks should be based on individual circumstances

According to a new report from the Center for Social Justice (CSJ), if accessibility restrictions are to be introduced in the UK, they must be based on the circumstances of the individual.

In a report entitled Not a Game , the CSJ, which aims to end injustice in the UK, has recommended limiting all deposits to gaming accounts based on individual bank details.

The independent think tank said these mechanisms need to be developed by a yet-to-be-established third-party gambling ombudsman and a panel of experts.

“First, deposit limits will provide banks that conduct affordability checks with more data, leading to improved accuracy,” the report says.

“Second, and more importantly, deposit limits can cause increased friction for players when depositing large amounts of money into their gaming accounts,” the report says.

The CSJ anticipates that any potential model will follow the same pattern used by credit reporting agencies in determining individuals' access to financial products, including mortgages and credit cards.

“While this model relies on banks to provide key financial data, operators also have an important role to play in identifying harmful activities.

“Operators have the ability to analyze gameplay for trends in malicious behavior and must alert the Ombudsman to their findings. Ultimately, for deposit limits to be effective, the ombudsman must work closely with both banks and operators to ensure consumer protection,” the report says.

As for the third party ombudsman, the CSJ said that this body should be given statutory authority to conduct accessibility reviews, with the power to act in consumer protection.

This includes establishing a duty of care for the banking sector to provide "limited and necessary data" to the Ombudsman, with the body tasked to work with full transparency by notifying the public of any decisions or actions taken.

In addition, the CSJ stated that all gambling transactions must be verified with debit card details for identity verification and data collection, including chip and pin transactions, but only in pounds sterling (£) for regulatory purposes.

All gambling transactions, including those made through loot boxes, must have their own merchant category codes to distinguish them from regular transactions and for reporting purposes, as recommended by the CSJ.

Finally, the CSJ called on the government to create a "harm index" to identify harmful gambling behavior that can be used by regulators, researchers and the financial sector.

“We expect this harm index to be developed in consultation with a wide range of experts to provide a holistic view of the full spectrum of harms from gambling, as opposed to models currently in use,” the report added.

In the foreword to the report, Conservative MP Sir Ian Duncan Smith said: “We must use technology and data-driven models to identify and reach out to those most in need of help.

“We are calling for a model that uses a strong independent ombudsman to analyze critical banking data to identify those who need support and protection from gambling-related harm.

“Through the intervention of the Ombudsman, we can protect people's fundamental rights to express personal and financial will, while providing the necessary level of protection for people and their families who are at risk of financial exclusion and serious harm as a result of their addiction to gambling.

“I think this is a very conservative action that needs to be taken and will greatly help people in the poorest communities,” Duncan Smith concluded.