Responsible Affiliates in Gambling (RAiG) was established to promote socially responsible marketing by those within the sector. To underpin that objective, all members and prospective members are required to undertake an annual social responsibility audit. The purpose of this note is to provide information about that process.
It covers the following areas:
Purpose of the audit;
Who will conduct the audits;
Audit process – framework;
Audit process – practical arrangements;
Reviews of the audit process; and
Purpose of the audit
The primary purpose of the audit is to ensure that all RAiG members, both full and associate, are compliant with the relevant UK regulations (see further details below). This will include having internal measures in place to ensure that affiliates are aware of the regulations that apply to them; have ways of keeping up to date with any changes to those regulations; and have training processes in place for staff so that they are aware of, and comply with, those regulations.
Below that it will help to identify areas of good practice and the awareness within companies of those measures.
This will include any relevant aspects of the RAiG code of practice as it develops.
It is intended that members will derive real benefit from the process, especially in gaining assurances that they are compliant with the applicable UK marketing regulations as they relate to the promotion of gambling products.
Prospective members will agree to undertake the audit asset out in this paper. On becoming members, they will undertake further social responsibility audits on an annual basis.
The initial audit will need to be undertaken within three months, subject to the availability of the auditor.
The exact date of subsequent audits to be reasonably agreed between the Member and the Independent Auditor with the annual audit taking place no more than fourteen (14) months after the previous audit.
Who will conduct the audits?
An Independent Auditor will be appointed by the Directors. In doing so, the key criteria they will assess are transparency, independence and credibility.
The current auditor is Gambling Integrity (www.gamblingintegrity.com).
The cost of the audit is included within the RAiG membership fee, however, any additional expenses incurred by the auditor at the request of the member will be met by the relevant company.
Audit process – framework
The Auditor shall attend the premises of each Member or such other suitable location as agreed between the Auditor and the relevant Member for the duration of up to one (1) working day to conduct the audit. The audit shall consist of:
- Interviews with management and/or legal and compliance personnel covering their:
- approach to compliance;
- relevant policies and procedures;
- products that promote licensed products;
- direct marketing;
- social media accounts; and
- all third-party media buying arrangements related to the promotion of licensed products.
A review of the internal policies and procedures of the Members related to the promotion of licensed products;
A random spot-check of a minimum of 100 pages of the products (including websites and applications) for marketing regulatory compliance. In order to conduct the spot-check each Member must provide to the Independent Auditor a full list of all products it controls that target the UK market;
A random spot-check of a minimum of 10 examples of direct marketing sent by the Member (if applicable) for marketing regulatory compliance. In order to conduct the spot-check each Member must provide to the Independent Auditor access to the systems it uses for sending direct marketing to the UK market; and
A random spot-check of up to 10 of the Member’s social media accounts. In order to conduct the spot-check each Member must provide to the Independent Auditor a full list of its social media accounts in the UK.
Audit process – practical arrangements
The following information is designed to give members and prospective members a better understanding of what the Auditor will require and to what timelines. It reflects the approach of the current Auditor following a pilot round of audits.
- the date for the Auditor’s on-site visit to the affiliate’s Head Office or alternative venue should be agreed no fewer than 4 weeks in advance;
- if required, the member and Auditor Integrity will sign an NDA;
- no fewer than 2 weeks in advance, the affiliate will need to provide the following documentation for UK products which come under the regulation of the Advertising Standards Authority, or as much as is available:
- List of URLs for all commercial websites and landing pages List of URLs for all social media accounts
- Details of any apps and how to find on App/Play Stores
- Responsible GamblingPolicy
- Responsible Gambling training procedures
- Marketing standards & guidelines
- Examples of current online and offline advertising, including emails
- Third party agreements with any agencies involved in the production of marketing and advertising content.
- In advance of the onsite visit, meeting agenda and personnel to be agreed, depending on size and structure of affiliate marketing and compliance teams;
- The personnel required for the onsite visit to include:
- Head of Acquisition (or similar)
- Head of Marketing
- Head of Social Media (or similar)
- Head of Compliance/Legal
- Head of Human Resources
- Head of PPC/SEO
It is anticipated that onsite visits will last about 3-5 hours, depending on the size of the business and the number of team members involved in marketing and compliance activities.
No later than 7 working days after the onsite visit, the affiliate and the Chairman of RAiG will receive from the Auditor the results of the audit and a report containing key findings and recommendations.
The information provided by each Member to the Auditor shall be provided on a confidential basis and shall not be shared with other Members or published without their prior agreement.
The Chairman may include anonymised details of the audits in their annual compliance report (ie to illustrate good practice, potential improvements to the system, or issues that might be considered as part of RAiG’s future work programme), but will not include any information that could be linked to a particular company without that member’s prior and specific agreement.
As mentioned above, the Auditor’s reports are shared only with the company concerned and the RAiG chairman.
The Auditor shall use the following scale to categorise recommendations:
- Suggested Improvement – where the activity observed is below the expected level of compliance and the Auditor would like to see improvements made by the next audit;
- Urgent Improvement – where the activity observed is significantly below the expected level of compliance and the Independent Auditor would like to see improvements made within thirty (30) days; and
- Serious Failing – where the activity observed is significantly below the expected level of compliance and the Auditor reasonably believes it was undertaken in bad faith by the Member; or where the Auditor has previously made a Suggested Improvement or Urgent Improvement and remedial action is not taken within the recommended timeframe without good reason.
The only exception to this involves any UK-facing businesses (ie those that fall under the regulatory remit of the ASA) that have been acquired by the Member or applicant in the previous twelve (12) months. If any of the activities of those newly acquired businesses fall into the Urgent Improvement or Serious Failing categories they will be given three (3) months to make the necessary improvements, but during this period they will not be entitled to carry the RAiG logo or anything else which would imply they have passed the audit. This slightly longer period to rectify any identified flaws is in recognition of the fact that the integration of systems and business practices will normally require a transitional period post-acquisition.
Any Member or applicant whose report contains a Serious Failing will be automatically referred to the Chairman and the Chairman will consider their continued membership in accordance with Article 8 of the Articles of Association prior to making any recommendations on that point to the RAiG board.
It should be underlined that this part of the report applies solely to compliance with relevant existing UK regulations and any other rule that RAiG might choose at some point to make a mandatory membership condition.
Although the Auditor’s report may include suggestions for alternative or better approaches, such as identified examples of good practice elsewhere in the sector, these are intended to be of use to the company concerned. Whether or not the company chooses to follow the advice will not affect their membership of RAiG.
Reviews of the audit process
The Audit process shall be reviewed periodically and may be amended, subject to ratification by the Members in accordance with the RAiG Articles of Association. The Auditor may recommend amendments to the process after any full review period however, the Audit Framework may not be amended within thirty (30) days of any scheduled audit.
Any changes to the guidance in this note will only be published once a comparable review has been undertaken and agreed by RAiG members in accordance with the Articles of Association