UK Government Affirms Licensed Operators' Responsibility for Affiliate Marketing: Insights from Richard Williams, Partner at Keystone Law
The UK Government's White Paper review reaffirms licensee operators' responsibility for affiliate marketing activities, while gaming lawyer Richard Williams supports the government's position
The recent White Paper issued by the UK Government has upheld the principle that licensee operators in the gambling industry will be held accountable for all marketing activities carried out by their affiliate partners. This decision has been met with mixed reactions, with ongoing debates surrounding the need for licensing or registration of gambling affiliates. We spoke with Richard Williams, a renowned gaming lawyer, Partner at Keystone Law, to gather insights on the Government's stance and the potential implications of this approach.
Williams highlighted that licensees are already bound by Social Responsibility Code 1.1.2, which clearly states their responsibility for third-party actions, including affiliates. He emphasized that third parties must ensure that their activities comply with the licensee's license conditions, and licensees should have the ability to swiftly terminate contracts in case of any breach. This responsibility is not new and aims to ensure that licensees only engage with affiliates who possess experience in advertising gambling in compliance with industry codes, such as the ASA CAP/BCAP Codes and IGRG Code. While it is possible for affiliates to disregard these obligations and promote gambling in violation of these codes, Williams believes that such affiliates would likely face swift consequences. In his experience, affiliates are well-versed in complying with gambling advertising regulations in the countries where they operate.
Regarding the campaign by the Responsible Affiliates in Gambling (RAiG) for a licensing or registration regime for affiliates, Williams cited the government's stance as outlined in the White Paper. The Government has considered the issue and has concluded that affiliate licensing by the Gambling Commission is not necessary. This appears to conclude the debate on the matter for now. However, the White Paper also states that the Gambling Commission will continue to monitor affiliate marketing and will take swift action if standards are found to decline. For instance, any direct marketing to self-excluded customers by affiliates would be considered a breach of license conditions by the licensee on whose behalf the affiliate is contacting the customer. Williams concurs with the Government's perspective, stating that separate licensing for affiliates would result in unnecessary duplication.
We at Gambling.Re expect that the discussion surrounding the licensing of affiliates will continue, and this should be viewed as a positive aspect. As the industry advances, finding the right equilibrium between protecting consumers and fostering healthy competition remains an important topic for deliberation. Engaging in these conversations will play a vital role in shaping the future of the industry and promoting responsible growth.