Kindred Group insights on the UK White Paper

Wed, 01 Nov, 2023

While the publication of the long-awaited UK White Paper was a significant moment in time - and the culmination of several years of work - the process was not finished at the point of release. 

In fact, the process was just getting started. That is why during the summer of 2023, the UK Government and the UK Gambling Commission launched consultations on the first round of topics from the White Paper to be consulted on ahead of final implementation. 

These included financial risk checks, changes to direct marketing opt-in requirements and online slot stake limits. It is vital for these consultations to take on board a wide range of views from across the sector and beyond. They are a critical part of policy design, and give operators like Kindred as well as others in the sector the opportunity to share views, data and expertise. 

The topics being consulted on were significant - including the financial risk checks which have been intensely debated both publicly over the last few months - and as part of our wider goal of transparency and contributing to the conversation, it is important that we share an insight into Kindred’s final position on some of the issues that we presented in our consultation responses.

Financial Risk Checks

The White Paper set out that the Gambling Commission would consult on creating a system of financial risk checks that were targeted, proportionate and genuinely frictionless. This is the collective ambition of those of us involved in this work - and continues to be our focus. 

Our consultation response made the following key points:

We were supportive of a system of financial risk checks – but only where a truly frictionless check was possible in reality, piloted by operators and tested extensively before rolling out via a licence requirement. Kindred fully believes in the role of technology to keep players’ safe - and believe this system is a natural progression from our current framework in place across our UK business. We also supported the introduction of the light touch financial check at a £125 net loss – predominantly because we already have this on our platform at registration.

However, we believe further work is needed on the nature of the frictionless check itself, so we supported the testing of the check before implementation as a licence requirement. A pilot of this technology is critical to its future success - operators have the experience and systems in place to understand whether it will work in reality, and crucially if it meets the Government’s ambition as genuinely targeted and frictionless for players. 

That is why we disagreed strongly with the proposal for operators to manually review all checks – on the simple basis that this would be impractical and unreasonable – and does not take into account the automated, frictionless nature of the potential checks. And we also disagreed with the proposal that would require operators to acquire postcode and job title data from customers. Not only is this not helpful when assessing affordability, it would create friction in the customer journey that the UK Government wants to avoid. 

Direct Marketing Opt-In Requirements

The White Paper set out that the Gambling Commission will consult on setting higher standards for operators in obtaining all customers’ consent to direct marketing and promotional offers.

Our consultation response made the following key points:

We were supportive in principle of the overarching ambition to ensure customers receive marketing that is appropriate for them – and is presented in a fair, transparent and open way to improve customer experience. We also supported the introduction of a ‘by channel basis’ of opt-in options (email, sms, notification, social media, post, phone call, any other direct method).

However, we strongly disagreed with the requirement for us to seek ‘re-approval’ from our customers who have already expressed their consent for communications. Our current customers have already consented to receiving marketing communications across channels and for specific products – under law that is applicable at the time they gave consent – and should therefore not be in scope for this proposal. Mandating that all existing customers must be opted-out if they do not reselect their marketing preferences would be going above and beyond the scope of the White Paper

Kindred fully supports the changes in relation to ensuring existing customers can easily change their preferences on their account page throughout their journey with us, but not any further requirement to seek new approval for communication channels and product types. If any new requirement stops us from being able to contact these customers overnight, we will have a significant impact on our ability to communicate with them going forward (despite them having previously consented to receive communications from us) and it may impact the more sporadic and infrequent customers. 

Online Slot Stake Limits

The White Paper set out that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, DCMS, would consult on the introduction of a maximum stake limit for online slots of between £2 and £15 – and a lower limit for 18-24 year olds.

Our consultation response made the following key points:

We were supportive in principle of the overarching ambition to ensure online slots are safe – and made the point that on our platforms, we already integrate measures such as lower limits for 18-24 year olds and lower affordability players on a dynamic basis. We made clear that our continued strong view is that we should base stake limits on risk, not blanket numbers – and the new financial risk check system gave the Government and the UKGC the opportunity to create a system where the two policies worked in tandem.

We agreed with the proposal to provide a lower limit for 18-24 year olds, but repeated the point that we can offer the same limit to all adults – with extra operator vigilance, policies and monitoring for younger players and those of lower affordability.

We made the case that any limit agreed during the consultation will not be followed by the growing unlicensed market – meaning players will be able to find alternative slot products with no limits or RG safeguards in a short space of time. This impact is acknowledged in the White Paper, but further consideration should be given to the knock-on effect of a slot limit that is too low in relation to player shifts to the unregulated market. 

Next Steps

The consultations for these proposals have now closed, and we now await the feedback from both the UK Government (online slot stake limits) and the UK Gambling Commission following the consultations closing. Kindred remains committed to contributing to the debate and providing evidence to help policymakers design the regulation to keep players’ safe while ensuring the majority of players can continue enjoying their experience in the regulated market. 


  • Tom Banks
    Head of Corporate Affairs UK/Global