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'Free gambling blocking is vital'.

GAMBLING firms could have to provide blocking software free of charge to customers under proposals to cut harm within the industry, the regulator has announced.

The Gambling Commission has launched a call for evidence on whether operators should have to provide access to software allowing punters to block access to gambling products on their phone, tablet or computer, which it said could be a "helpful tool to add friction between a compulsion to gamble and the ability to be able to do so".

It is also consulting on "strengthening expectations" of how operators identify and interact with customers who may be at risk or experiencing harm from gambling.

As part of the consultation, the regulator will consider whether it should require operators to only use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers - compulsory for all licensed firms - who have met additional standards.

Gambling Commission executive director Paul Hope said: "The proposed changes are intended to accelerate progress in protecting consumers.

"Making gambling fairer and safer is at the heart of how we regulate."

Brian Chappell, founder of Justice for Punters, said: "In this particular case customer interaction and free availability of gambling blocking software have to be the priorities. The latter is easy to implement and the former needs gambling companies to take comparable actions for their 'at-risk' customers as they do for their tiny number of winning customers."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 15, 2019
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