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Social Responsibility Code

On the 25th of October 2014 the RGA published its Social Responsibility Code.


RGA
1. The RGA is committed to the following objectives:
• the encouragement of high standards of probity and integrity within the
betting and gaming industry, both for the benefit of its members and the
public generally; and
• to encourage social responsibility within the betting and gaming
industry, effected through various means including support for charities
and initiatives to help those who have gambling problems.
2. The purpose of this code is to help members of RGA achieve these aims in a
consistent manner. Members will be required to meet these standards by the end of
2014. It is intended for use in whichever jurisdiction the RGA member is operating
and not just for those parts of the business which are based in Britain. Irrespective of
where the customer is located, he or she should be provided with the tools to help
them monitor and control their gambling behaviour.
3. Although there are places in the code which relate exclusively to internet
gambling it is believed that the underlying principles hold good for all forms of remote
gambling. However, the RGA’s position is that, for practical reasons, different
delivery channels will in due course need certain provisions tailored exclusively to
them. An obvious example of this is that while information about problem gambling
may be made available on a betting operator’s website there is no facility to provide
that as part of a telephone betting service. Together with the Mobile Data
Association and the Mobile Broadband Group, the RGA has established a working
party to consider how best to take this forward. Additional work needs to be done in
collaboration with experts in the field of problem gambling and with regulators. It must
be a code that is flexible and capable of development in line with any emerging best
practice.
RGA
Remote Gambling Association
Compliance with Codes of Conduct
4. The need to demonstrate that a business is run in a socially responsible
manner is an important aspect of regulation. Operators will also have their own rules
and procedures designed to protect their businesses, enhance the customer
experience and minimise harm to the vulnerable. It is therefore important that:
• All relevant staff are made aware of, and understand, this code of practice;
and
• due consideration is given to the code when company policies and procedures
are being developed.
Advertising and Promotion
5. It is appropriate that gambling activities are advertised and that an operator is
able to promote the facilities available. Any such advertising and promotion must
comply with the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction in which the operator is
licensed.
General Principles
• Advertisements should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
• Advertisements should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to
consumers and to society in general.
• Promotional email should only be sent in accordance with relevant regulations
and legislation.
• No advertisement should bring the advertising industry into disrepute.
• Advertisements and promotions should be socially responsible.
Betting and Gaming specific
• Care should be taken not to exploit the young, the immature or those who are
mentally or socially vulnerable.
• Advertisements should not be directed at people under the age of 18 through
the selection of media, style of presentation, content or context in which they
appear.
• Persons portrayed gambling should not be, nor appear to be, under 18.
• There should be honesty at all times with regard to the chances of winning,
and the odds or payout ratio that applies to the gambling on offer. Free play
games should operate to the same payout ratio as cash games.
• Operators should always gain permission before carrying any 3rd party logo
(eg the Gamcare logo should not be used without its consent) and ensure that
logos and links are valid and appropriate.
• Consumers should be offered advice about the gambling facilities on offer. It
should not encourage them to re-stake their winnings; increase the amount
they have decided to gamble; chase their losses; continue gambling when
they have indicated that they wish to stop; or enter into continuous play for a
prolonged period of time.
Underage Gambling
6. Even though it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to engage in betting or
gaming, it is not always easy to ensure that children are excluded. Operators should
adopt reasonable measures to minimise underage gambling, including:
• Clear notices on gambling websites stating the minimum age to use the
facilities.
• Investigating, identifying and applying an appropriate age verification
procedure (as more sources of information may become available over time,
operators should review their procedures regularly to ensure they remain
robust and reliable).
• Monitoring which payment methods, for example which debit cards might be
or might become available to children.
• Links and information about filtering services, notably the Internet Content
Rating Association (ICRA), so that parents and others can apply the
appropriate filters on their personal computers .
• Having a clear policy and procedure for dealing with underage gambling and
ensuring that it is followed.
• As far as is reasonably possible, not making the appearance of the website
attractive to children.
• Particular care should be taken with payment methods which are readily
available to children (eg certain debit cards). RGA will continue to liaise
closely with The Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) to
determine which cards are available to children and to encourage the banking
sector to play a full part in the prevention of underage gambling.
Staff Training
7. Training on social responsibility and problem gambling should be available for
all customer services and other relevant staff. The aims of such training should be to
raise the awareness of these issues for frontline staff who deal with gamblers. They
should be fully appreciative of their companies’ policies and able to refer suitable
cases to external bodies that are in a position to provide qualified help and
counselling. Working with problem gamblers is a specialised skill and it would be
wrong and potentially dangerous for staff in the gambling industry to seek to fulfil any
part of that role.
Player Protection Measures
8. In order to prevent and combat problem gambling there are a range of
measures that operators can take to help their customers. These include:
• Links from the site’s home page to both the player protection and responsible
gambling pages.
• Links should also be readily available from any screen where game play may
occur.
• The social responsibility page should contain as a minimum; a message that
gambling could be harmful if not controlled and kept in moderation; advice on
responsible gambling and sources of help on problem gambling, including
contact details; a ‘self assessment’ process to determine risk potential either
on the page or via a link; a link to the player protection page if that is different;
links to a filtering programme to enable customers to prevent children gaining
access to gambling sites via their computers; and details of the company’s
social responsibility policy.
• The player protection page information should contain the measures available
(including deposit limits and self exclusion facilities) to the customer.
• Where available an up-to-date account balance will help customers monitor
their spending.
• Their betting history should be available on request.
• The current time, where displayed on the customer’s computer, will help
customers monitor the time spent on the operator’s website.
• The provision of a self-exclusion facility for any customers who wish to
exclude themselves from gambling on the operator’s website. During the
chosen period the customer will also be excluded from all forms of
communication from the operator. The chosen period should be for a
minimum of 6 months.
Customer Communication
9. Without compromising the principle that customers are responsible for their
own gambling, the nature of the activity is such that information should be made
available to empower them to gamble responsibly. Related customer communication
should therefore:
• Give clear guidance that in order for gambling to be a fun, social activity, the
customer needs to ‘stay in control’.
• Make information available about player protection and responsible gambling.
• Indicate sources of help and how they can be accessed.
• Either provide a self assessment test or a link to one (such as that on the
Gamcare website) to help customers gauge whether or not they are
developing a problem.
10. Gambling operators must be able to direct customers to sources of help where
they can address concerns about their gambling should they wish to do so. The
availability of such assistance can be brought to the attention of customers in the
following ways:
• Displaying the logo of, and a link to, appropriate problem gambling
organisations on the website’s home page.
• The display of an appropriately worded link to the area of the website where
sources of help can be found.
• Providing an area of the website that sets out the operator’s policy, that
emphasises the need to keep gambling under control and shows where to
seek help should anyone be concerned about their own or someone else’s
gambling. There is already some best practice in this area and RGA members
can be put in touch with specialists in this field if they would find that useful.
• By having staff who can supply such information and contacts (see staff
training above).
Conclusion
11. Gambling is a mainstream leisure activity for adults. For the vast majority of
customers it is a harmless pursuit, but all socially responsible gambling operators
must be mindful of the problems that can develop and, of course, it is never
acceptable for a child to be able to take part in any adult gambling activity.
12. Although no procedures can ever be foolproof, operators should empower
their customers to help them ensure that their gambling does not become a problem
and that, if they fear it might be, there is information available for them about sources
of support and advice.
13. In addition, RGA will continue to work with all interested parties so that its
members can be kept fully informed of any new practices or procedures that might be
useful in combating problem gambling, helping problem gamblers, and preventing
children from gambling.

Previous online publications of RGA Social Responsibility Code