UK operators join forces with Gambling Commission to make gambling safer

3rd April 2020 10:00 am GMT

Licensed betting and gaming operators in the UK have been working with the Gambling Commission (UKGC) to make gambling safer and reduce harm across the sector.

The collaborative work with the industry followed three challenges laid down by the regulator, with working groups established in January, concentrating on use of VIP incentives, safer advertising online, and the use of safer product design.

The work will lead to restrictions and prevention of under 25s being recruited to VIP schemes, a reduction on intensity of play such as the speed of spin and removing turbo buttons, and a joint effort to shield children and young people from online gambling advertising.

“We have been encouraged by the progress on VIP incentives, safer advertising and safer products,” said UKGC chief executive Neil McArthur. “We set these challenges in order to deliver real and rapid change for consumers in key areas of risk.

“However, it is important these commitments are implemented as soon as possible. It should not take months to implement safeguards many would expect to be in place already.”

The industry working groups featured over 30 operators, co-ordinated by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). As part of this work, the UKGC ran workshops with people with first-hand experience of gambling harm, as well as collaborating with GamCare to ensure that its service users’ experience would also help inform any outcomes.

Those involved in the work will continue to develop and rapidly implement the proposals, with some measures around VIP customers being implemented as soon as 14 April.

The regulator will now launch formal consultations on these areas to ensure that the new measures are incorporated into its regulatory framework, which means that all operators will have to abide by the new consumer protection rules.

“By working together with operators and seeking the views of people with lived experience of gambling harm we have been able to make significant progress, although there is always more to do,” continued McArthur. “We will now consult on the necessary changes to our rule book to ensure all operators have to meet the new standards.

“Whilst we are encouraged by industry proposals for making gambling products safer we now call on operators to implement those proposals rapidly; but the proposals do not go far enough and we will now consider what additional measures we should impose on operators.”

McArthur noted that while the COVID-19 outbreak will impact on next steps and actions, in particular land-based operators, he welcomed the fact that the operators involved and the BGC have remained committed to progressing this work during these difficult times.

“That is a positive sign of their commitment to make the industry safer,” he said. “Ultimately actions speak louder than words and any operator that does not put consumer safety first will find itself a target for enforcement action.”

BGC chairman Brigid Simmonds commented: “The progress reported today including restricting under 25’s from qualifying for high value customer accounts; strengthened advertising rules and games with slower speeds and the removal of some functionality comes despite difficult operating circumstances during the COVID-19 crisis.

“These measures, along with our recently announced 10 pledge action plan for COVID-19 safer gambling and our 22 industry safer gambling commitments will significantly transform and improve the environment for our customers and the wider public. We agree with the Gambling Commission that there is still more work to do and we will rise to the ongoing challenge.”

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