It has been an incredibly busy week in the world of Safer Gambling so let’s dive right in and assess the main developments.
Betting and Gaming Council
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) commissioned YouGov to run an opinion poll which found that only 27% of British adults support legislated maximum-spend limits on gambling, with 51% opposed.
The poll of 1,683 people also highlighted that 59% backed the statement that if too many restrictions were placed on people’s gambling behaviour, then this would tempt them to the black market. Only 10% of people disagreed with this statement.
This chimes with a recent report published by PwC which suggests that the number of British people using black market betting sites has increased from 210,000 to 460,000 in the last two years. The amount staked in this period has also doubled, from £1.4bn to £2.8bn.
The Gambling Commission currently has an ongoing consultation regarding affordability, with a “soft cap” proposed of £100/month on gambling losses.
The BGC also commissioned a number of focus groups across the UK and particularly in the “Red Wall” constituencies that switched from Labour to the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election. They found that betting was a “normal social and leisure pastime for millions” and that there are widespread concerns over the government exercising too much control.
On Tuesday, GamCare launched a new code of conduct concerning Safer Gambling messaging for UK licensed operators. Developed in consultation with the BGC, the changes have largely been driven by GamCare’s lived experience group on gambling harms.
The aim is to increase the consistency and transparency of safer gambling messaging, particularly in relation to how it’s displayed to customers. Furthermore, the visibility of such messaging should be increased, with the aim of reducing friction for vulnerable consumers to access the tools and services available. The aim is also to make safer gambling tools easier to understand, as well as promoting the specialist support services offered under the National Gambling Treatment Service program.
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm
Staying in the UK and on Thursday it was announced that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm (APPG) has written to all television channels, urging them to end gambling operators’ sponsorship of daytime TV programmes.
The APPG has expressed ‘deep concern’ about these sponsorships, highlighting Gala Bingo’s link-up with Australian soap opera Neighbours on Channel 5 as being one example. The APPG has previously advocated a ban on all gambling advertising.
They said: “Gambling companies are sponsoring programmes which seek to glamorise gambling with the aim of targeting women and young people and encouraging them to gamble.
“We are very concerned that television companies are promoting gambling – we have ourselves seen first-hand the harm and devastation that gambling can cause to young people’s lives, families and communities.”
Gibraltar Gambling Care Foundation (GGCF)
Gibraltar’s Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) has launched a new charity whose aim is to minimise gambling-related harm, as well as customer protection.
The Gibraltar Gambling Care Foundation (GGCF) will be funded by the GBGA but will work independently with regulators, the industry and customers to reduce the impact of gambling-related disorders.
Over £2.5m has already been raised by the regulator from Gibraltar-based gambling companies to fund the initiative, which will support the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming (CERG) for the next three years. This research facility will be based at the University of Gibraltar and will focus on how to mitigate the negative effects of problem gambling on individuals, families and society. They will also focus on the practical solutions that operators can employ to minimize harm. A standardised system of identifying, monitoring and assessing problem gambling will also be devised, as will setting up databases to help the battle against problem gambling.
Councillor Stephen Reyes, who will chair the GGCF, said: “Gibraltar is known globally as a premier jurisdiction in the online gambling area, so it is great that as an industry the operators have come together and set up and formed this charitable foundation to invest in academic research to inform effective initiatives to encourage responsible gambling and prevent gambling harm.”
Meanwhile, GBGA chairman Nigel Birrell said: “This is a pivotal step change for all Gibraltar licensed operators and the jurisdiction as a whole.
“The GBGA, via the GGCF, will be supporting the creation of an industry leading research programme aimed at exploring solutions to minimise gambling related harm and the creation of open-source databases for academic studies.”
In the United States, it’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month, with a number of companies offering their full backing to the initiative.
MGM Resorts International and BetMGM announced an enhanced commitment to providing players with the tools they need to enable them to make informed and responsible decisions while betting.
BetMGM and MGM Resorts’ employees will also participate in a weekly educational series provided by EPIC Risk, which will provide details on how operators can aid problem gambling prevention as well as giving unique perspectives on problem gambling. Meanwhile, BetMGM will include outreach and education as part of their player experience as well as general customer service.
The Responsible Gambling Program Manager at BetMGM, Richard Taylor, said: “We’re committed to providing BetMGM employees with the responsible gambling tools, information, and empowerment they need to ensure the highest level of customer service and care possible.
“Throughout the month they’ll hear from experts about the nature of problem gambling, the importance of research and policy, and the role they can play in preventing problem gambling. We’re pleased to collaborate on this critical initiative.”
BetMGM is also backing the Annual Gambling Disorder Screening Day, while further related resources will also be available in their app. Entain have also highlighted their commitment to this, with BetMGM being their joint venture with MGM Resorts.
Entain have also announced a range of initiatives of their own in their support of Problem Gambling Awareness Month including joining the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling as a supporting Platinum organisational member along with supporting a nationwide survey with the aim of determining the extent of existing support available to those suffering from gambling-related disorders in the US.
The Senior Vice President for American Regulatory Affairs & Responsible Gambling, Martin Lycka, stressed: “It is our ambition, with our partners and support from BetMGM, to provide the most comprehensive portfolio of responsible gambling initiatives, partnerships and services in the gaming entertainment sector in the United States.
“We are proud of our commitment and will continue our leadership in serving this vital area.”
Staying in America and this week FanDuel became the first mobile sportsbook to sign up to The American Gaming Association’s (AGA) “Have A Game Plan, Bet Responsibly” public service campaign.
This will see FanDuel dedicate much of their inventory to a safer gambling message, working with their league, team and media partners across television, radio, digital and in-venue media.
FanDuel chief executive Matt King said: “We are not only going to commit substantial FanDuel resources to promote ‘Have a Game Plan’ but we intend to build a consortium of partners throughout the sports and gaming business to scale this initiative and we encourage other operators to join us.”
In Spain, it was announced that the ‘Royal Decree of Advertising’ will not be delayed, meaning the blanket ban of gambling advertising on traditional media formats will begin on 1 May.
The injunction had been launched by Spanish media trade union the Asociación de Medios de Informacion (AMI), who said traditional broadcasters had been discriminated against as online advertising will only be banned from 1 August, meaning they can take advantage of this summer’s big sporting events including Euro 2020 and the Olympics.
In the Netherlands, it has been decided that the Human Assistance Network for Daily Support (HANDS), ZonMw and The National Healthcare Institute will receive monies from the new addiction prevention fund Verslavingspreventiefonds (VPF).
The VPF will be founded in April and will have three main objectives – supporting the anonymous treatment of gambling addiction, backing research into prevention and treatment services, and creating a national support service for individuals and families dealing with gambling-related harm.
Finally, there was an interesting long-read piece in iGamingFuture with Andy Masters, the Chief Operating Officer at Crucial Compliance, relating how the pandemic has affected responsible gambling and what this means for the future. Definitely worth a lunchtime peruse.
Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media