Opinion: UKGC's New One Hour Rule Should Be Permanent

Lee R. - May 31, 2020

The newest rule of the UKGC leads a bundle of proactive measures that have been overdue.

An interesting preventative measure has been introduced in the time of corona, which may have long term ramifications for the efforts that regulators go to to prevent addiction.

The New Rule

We speak of the UK Gambling Commission's new 1 hour rule, requiring betting firms to check in with online gamblers every hour to protect the vulnerable.

The checks are believed to be implemented in the form of a web chat or phone call which could lead to exclusion from play, with UKGC acknowledging the potential for the hour check requirement to become permanent, pending a guideline consultation with the gambling industry.

The Nature of Change

The sports closures have led to a drop in overall gambling, but the UKGC remains concerned about the manner of the shifts to online products including poker and virtual sports, which can threaten the risk of harm during the lockdowns.

UKGC Chief Speaks

UKGC chief executive Neil McArthur said "Operators must use the data they hold to protect their customers,” and further called “vital” the need for online operators to know their customers by monitoring how long they are playing for” to understanding “how financial uncertainty is impacting them and what they can afford to gamble with."

More Unique Measures

Further rethinking of the indicators operators use to to flag customers at risk of harm is on the docket in the near future as well. Some firms are preparing to conduct affordability assessments if players on their watch pass certain spending thresholds, such as £100 on three consecutive days.

Other suggested affordability assessments include requiring customers to provide payslips; reassessments of when to offer bonuses and promotions to gamblers; ongoing examination of patterns of play and changes in recent weeks of spending habits.

The Engaged Gambler Cohort

A behavior of concern for the UKGC in the weeks since the closures began is the 8% rise in “engaged gamblers,” whom are gamblers who have used three or more gambling products in the last four weeks.


The UKGC reports identifies a problem behavior in two thirds of these engaged gamblers: the increase in time or money they are spending on at least one online gambling activity. This is the increase that the UKGC is targeting as the focal point of new protections, with the 1-hour rule looking like protection that is appropriate for any time period, and should be around for a long time to come.

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