It’s an earlier newsletter this week, with the Easter period starting tomorrow, while it has been a slightly quieter week as a result. Here’s what has been going on.
There was positive news from GambleAware’s second Annual GB Treatment and Support Survey, which suggested that 63% of problem gamblers reported using some form of treatment or support service in the past year, up from 54% compared to 18 months ago.
Usage of treatment services climbed from 43% to 53%, while the number of problem gamblers utilizing support and advice services has jumped from 39% to 48%. Mental health service usage also increased – from 12% to 19% – while use of self-help apps and self-exclusion tools was also up, from 9% to 14%.
Research into remote treatment, advice and support was also conducted in light of the pandemic, with 44% of respondents saying it was better than accessing this face-to-face, while 38% said it was about the same.
Among problem gamblers who have not accessed treatment, 18% feared online support would not be as good, 16% said they lacked a private space to engage in such treatment and 14% said sharing devices at home made accessing support difficult.
Conducted by YouGov, the survey also showed that 2.4% of adults are currently classed as ‘problem gamblers’, similar to the findings from the first survey. Meanwhile, participation in gambling in general has fallen – with 44% of people defining as non-gamblers, a rise from 39%.
The number of low-risk gamblers has dropped from 7.2% to 6.4%, with the number of moderate-risk and problem gamblers decreasing slightly, but not in a statistically significant way.
Zoë Osmond, chief executive of GambleAware, said: “It is encouraging to see a year-on-year increase in those classified as ‘problem gamblers’ seeking help, especially during the pandemic. These results will be used to help inform GambleAware’s new commissioning strategy as we continue our work to increase provision of and access to services.
“The significantly increased sample will allow GambleAware to better tailor existing support services according to local need and allow us to better support local authorities and health commissioners.”
Earlier this week, Entain announced they will launch a ‘new affordability model’ across all of their UK brands by the summer. It will then be rolled out across other jurisdictions once it has been localised.
Developed over the last 18 months, it has been configured for Entain’s proprietary ‘ARC’ (Advanced Responsibility and Care) monitoring system and will combine data that is both open source and commercially available, along with other behavioural indicators, to help identify at-risk customers based on their playing patterns. The aim is to allow their customer care teams to intervene early.
Group Operations Director at Entain, Peter Marcus, has been leading the ARC initiative and said: “We have been working on player affordability concepts for the past 18 months as part of our ARC affordability programme.
“This aims to identify relevant limits at the right time to protect customers whom our technology has identified as being vulnerable, or particularly at risk.”
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Entain, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, said: “We firmly believe that a more personalised, individual approach to player protection is the way forward which is why, for the most vulnerable customers, we have taken action as soon as we can.
“We are deeply committed to giving every customer the best experiences and protection we can, tailored to their particular needs.”
GamCare have used their most recent survey to stress the importance of listening to lived experience when considering gambling reforms in the UK.
The charity which operates the National Gambling Helpline conducted their survey with 343 of their service users, publishing their findings earlier in the week to aid the Government’s ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
The focus was primarily on how their users interact with licensed operators, along with the policies and safeguards they think should be implemented to confront ‘gambling-related issues’.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said there were insufficient resources dedicated to support or treatment of problem gambling. Meanwhile, 55% of those responding said they had received treatment support from GamCare or similar safer gambling charities.
Eighty-four percent of those responding said they wanted operators to fund research, education and treatment for gambling harms, with 71% of respondents backing further limits to online accounts and 83% wanting VIP services banned.
Eighty percent of respondents want a wholesale ban on sports betting companies sponsoring events, with 83% against football shirt sponsorship.
GamCare have called for the Government to increase investment in research, education and treatment to help support those experiencing gambling-related harm as a result. GamCare also support the formation of a Civic Ombudsman for UK gambling to deal with public disputes while they would also like their ‘GamCare Safer Gambling Standard’ to be used as a mark of quality for operators to promote to their customers.
Speaking about the survey, Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare said: “The review of the 2005 Gambling Act has come at just the right time as we are climbing out of lockdown in the UK, and the increase those seeking help with their online gambling has become a worrisome problem.
“We want people to realise the first step is to seek non-judgmental help from our trained advisers after what has been a terribly damaging year for us all.
“Gambling is a serious health harm and we welcome discussion to bring this problem to the forefront of addiction issues, and to ensure we can secure sustainable funds to meet the needs of those affected.”
Moving to the UK Gambling Commission and Tim Miller has stressed that affordability and fairness will be the guiding principles in UKGC’s new ‘Corporate Strategy’.
The key aims heading into the 2021-22 period will be:
Protecting children and vulnerable people from gambling-related harm
Developing a marketplace which is fairer
Keeping crime out of gambling
Optimising the amount of money given to good causes from the National Lottery
Improving the regulations surrounding gambling, as well as the way customers are informed
A business plan is forthcoming, with a roadmap as to how these principles will be addressed. Part of this will be working with the industry to counter black market threats as well as strengthening AML protections.
Miller leads the Commission’s research and policy units, and said there has been a significant response to the recent consultation on consumer safeguards. He stressed the next focus will be strengthening the rules on compliance regarding operators carrying out due diligence on customer affordability.
Speaking of the casework on this issue, Miller said that the UKGC has seen “example after example of operators who have allowed people to gamble amounts that are clearly unaffordable with very limited or no customer interaction until a very late stage.”
“We are not talking about grey areas here. We are talking about clearly unaffordable levels of gambling,” Miller continued.
“It perhaps will come as no surprise that our business plan features work that addresses the risk of harm from gambling. Indeed, the last couple of years have seen the debate around gambling regulation rightly dominated by such issues. We make no apologies for focusing the industry’s attention on this.”
GAMSTOP announced earlier this week that they have signed their first deal with an English Premier League club, partnering with Crystal Palace FC.
GAMSTOP’s services will be promoted across Palace’s social media channels, while advertising space will be donated at Selhurst Park. Free training on GAMSTOP’s services will also be offered in the local community, with the aim of helping vulnerable people.
“Crystal Palace’s support will be hugely beneficial in ensuring that people who could benefit from using GAMSTOP are aware of the scheme,” said Fiona Palmer, CEO of GAMSTOP.
“The pandemic has led to increased sign-ups and we are trying to ensure that anybody who is struggling with their gambling, or has a loved one experiencing problems, knows where they can access support.
“The support of Crystal Palace will help us extend our reach and we hope that other Premier League and women’s clubs will follow their example.”
Finally, a long read this week, with William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson conducting an exclusive interview with SBC as part of their SBC Leaders series, in which he said “we need to be able to look ourselves in the eye and say we did everything we could” when it comes to the issue of social responsibility and player protection.
He also discusses affiliate licensing in the Swedish market and why competition between licensed operators is key to countering the threat of the black market.
Have a great Easter everyone!
Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media