Bishop of St Albans asks Government about regulation of online gambling

On 20th September 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to two questions about the regulation of online gambling:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to regulate the use of electronic data by betting firms and their affiliates to target online advertising at specific groups.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to incorporate a review of online gambling into the Triennial Review of Gaming Machine Stake and Prize Limits.Answers:

Lord Ashton of Hyde:

(i) The use of personal data for the purpose of targeted online advertising is subject to safeguards found in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations 2003. Updated regulation will be put in place in May 2018 when the Data Protection Bill applies new standards, comprising those in the General Data Protection Regulation, specifically requiring, either clearer and affirmative consent from individuals to be sought, or applying additional safeguards where data processing is allowed in the absence of consent.

All betting firms are required to have a licence to operate from the Gambling Commission. A condition in the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice holds licensed operators responsible for the actions and behaviours of their affiliates. The Commission published an advice note earlier this year on ensuring direct marketing is not sent to those who have self-excluded from gambling.

Operators and affiliates are required to comply with the requirements of the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations and the Data Protection Act, and the Information Commissioner’s Office may take enforcement action if there is evidence of a breach. The Advertising Standards Authority also has the power to take action if it were to receive evidence of irresponsible targeting, for example deliberately sending certain commercial messages to vulnerable groups in a way that exploited their vulnerability. This could be under general responsibility rules, in relation to the targeting, or specific rules on prohibited approaches regarding the content of the advertisement.


(ii)  A review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures was launched in October last year. The call for evidence invited views on measures to improve social responsibility across the gambling industry. The review is nearing completion and we are aiming to announce the findings in October.


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