UKGC Releases New Draft of Online Poker Technical Standards

The UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission) has released a new version of its technical standards for the online gaming industry. These standards are not yet final, but it is expected that the ultimate version will resemble this one very closely, if not exactly. The new standards hit on many of the most talked about issues in the industry in the last few years, including collusion and bot use.

Last year, the UKGC accepted suggestions from the industry as to what should be addressed in the agency’s first major re-write of the technical standards since 2007. The top issues included collusion, bots (programs that play automatically), third-party software such as hand trackers and heads-up displays (HUDs), and unregulated hand history datamining (which related to third-party software usage).

In a report, the UKGC said that the process of soliciting ideas from the industry “identified a number of good practice measures, it also identified inconsistencies and issues across the industry.”

As such, the UKGC plans to amend two rules, RTS 11 and RTS 16. RTS 11A currently says that online poker operators must have anti-collusion and cheating measures in place and that their systems must keep records of “relevant activities” to aid investigations. What will be added is a sentence that reads, “Operators must monitor the effectiveness of the measures implemented.”

Under RTS 11A “implementation guidance,” there was a list of three things operators should look for when keeping an eye out for cheating (one would assume this isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list): players who are often at the same table, players who live at the same address and sit together at the tables, and suspicious play, such as chip dumping. A fourth – unusual gameplay statistics – will now be added.

An entire new guidance subsection will also be added:

  1. Records should be kept of investigations which result in an account being closed including:
  2. player details (name, location, which licence the activity was in reliance on), scale of the offences (financial and number of players), time and date etc.
  3. the reason for investigation (including whether it was initiated by customer contact) and the outcome

iii. any relevant evidence such as reports, screenshots, chat history etc. This information should be considered when updating the risks identified in relevant policies or procedures.

One interesting addition is in section 11B, a new bullet in a section having to do operators’ policies about cheating and how they handle customers who cheat. It reads, “Information should include how an operator deals with seized funds recovered following integrity investigations. It is not expected to cover every scenario but should highlight the main aims of the policy.”

RTS 16 has to do with “automated third party gambling software.” In this section, the UKGC stipulates that operators must make it clear what types of software are allowed and are not allowed. If an operators prohibits certain third party software, it must then also have measures in place to prevent and detect its use.

As mentioned, the changes to the technical standards aren’t final yet. The UKGC is accepting feedback on them until January 17th, after which it will determine the final regulations.

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