It has been quite an interesting week in the world of Safer Gambling so let’s jump right in.
The big news came on Wednesday, with GambleAware announcing they had received voluntary donations to the tune of £19million from UK-licensed operators in the year up to 31 March 2021.
This represented an approximate increase of £9million compared to a year earlier, with the majority of the monies (£15.4million) coming from the UK’s ‘Big Four’ operators – Entain Plc, William Hill, Flutter Entertainment, and bet365.
Flutter were the most impressive of this group, providing £9.3million in direct donations. This was followed by Entain’s £4.3million. In addition to the voluntary funding, GambleAware also received a further £8.8million in regulatory settlements.
The CEO of GambleAware, Zoë Osmond, said: “This growth in donations is the largest we’ve seen year on year driven largely as a result of the commitment by the ‘Big Four’.
“This will enable us to continue and expand our work to ensure evidence-informed services are developed according to need within a robust and accountable system. We will shortly be releasing our commissioning strategy which will detail how we plan to use this increased funding to help keep people safe from gambling harms.”
Speaking of research, education and treatment (RET) – initiatives that much of this funding will support – GamCare have also called for an increase in investment in these areas.
Becoming one of the latest organisations to publish their response to the UK Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, GamCare also said that those suffering from gambling-related harm must be guaranteed access to free and confidential advice.
They have provided the DCMS with research conducted with users of their own services who have ‘lived experience’ of problem gambling, with 64% of them saying the current resources dedicated to gambling harm treatment are inefficient.
GamCare have also urged the government to back its Safer Gambling ‘quality mark’ for licensed gambling businesses, while they want to close the social gaps within treatment, saying more inclusive support is particularly needed for women, young people, and BAME communities. They also back greater regulation and the introduction of an industry ombudsman to help deal with public complaints.
Regarding the societal effect of problem gambling, GambleAware have also published their response to the government this week, where they estimate that the economic cost of problem gambling equates to between £260million and £1.16billion annually.
GambleAware says that gambling disorders should be treated as a public health concern and that “effective prevention of gambling harms requires action at a coordinated series of levels, including through national legislation as well as in promoting healthy behaviours.”
They urge the DCMS to maintain their focus on fighting and reducing the social impacts of gambling-related harm, saying they will support the government’s upcoming ‘Health and Care Bill’, which aims to broaden healthcare support services within local areas by empowering authorities and voluntary groups.
GambleAware also back the introduction of a ‘mandatory levy’ to support research, education, and treatment into gambling-related harm.
Late on Thursday, YGAM became the third organisation this week to publish their response to the review, highlighting the importance of education in the fight against gambling-related harm. They too back increased funding towards research, education, and treatment, saying gambling harm should be treated as a public health issue akin to alcohol and drug addiction. They also back enhanced regulation while also saying that operators should do more to protect consumers, particularly younger ones.
Moving away from research and the Gambling Act review, Gambless – the app that provides remote anonymous support to people suffering from gambling-related harm – was awarded the ORCHA’s certificate of approval, with the organisation saying it’s “an important confirmation and recognition of the worthiness of the app”.
ORCHA is an independent digital health evaluation and distribution organisation, and is trusted by 11 national health bodies, including the NHS.
The CEO of Gambless, Maurizio Savino, said: “We are very pleased to receive this recognition. ORCHA certification gives our users, as well as health organisations all over the world, the assurance that the Gambless mobile app is safe and trustworthy.
“The effectiveness of our app was already known to us. We receive constant messages and emails from problem gamblers who thank us for our support tools. The app, created by our team of psychologists, enables users to learn more about their condition, teaching them how to control their impulses, and thus how to prevent gambling harm.”
Meanwhile, Gambless’s services will now be available in Spanish and Japanese, signifying their rapid international expansion.
Savino continued: “Given the overwhelming feedback from our users, we decided to invest further in our product and expand our platform to five languages (English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Japanese), making our apps available to 1.2bn first language speakers and natives of more than 30 countries.”
PlayOJO have become the latest brand to launch a responsible gambling tool, partnering with Neccton.
‘Safe mate’ will enable users in the UK, Spain, and Sweden to track how much money they have deposited and wagered, along with the length of time they have spent on site in the last six months. It will form part of a number of other safer gambling features available on the site, including time limits, affordability checks, and 24-hour customer support.
The tool has the ability to detect changes in behaviour too, assessing any potential problem gambling. It also allows users to compare what they think they have spent with what they have actually spent, offering personalised communication and a health score to help prevent gambling-related harm.
Head of brand Peter Bennett said: “We pride ourselves on being the fair online casino and bingo site and will continue to find new innovative methods and tools to help promote safe play for our customers.”
On Wednesday, Camelot confirmed that the minimum age at which you can buy UK National Lottery products will be raised to 18 from 22 April. Access will be closed to all customers under the age of 18 on their digital platforms, while the new policy will be implemented both online and in retail outlets. The move comes after DCMS instructed Camelot to make the change before autumn 2021.
Camelot stated: “From 22 April 2021, players must be 18 or over to play National Lottery games online, in-store, and on the app. This is in line with the government’s decision to raise the legal minimum age to play The National Lottery, which we fully support.
“Encouraging healthy play is at the heart of everything we do. Remember, you can set limits for the amount you deposit and spend each week, moderate your Instant Win Games play limit, or even take a break from playing.”
888 Holdings have furthered their commitment to social responsibility by forming a new ‘Environment, Social and Governance’ (ESG) committee, which will be headed by Lord Jon Mendelsohn. It will guide 888’s corporate social responsibility duties and objectives.
Lord Mendelsohn said in an 888 statement: “As a Board, we are committed to ensuring that issues such as safer gambling, the climate change agenda, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement are consistently incorporated into the Group’s strategy and decision making.
“The creation of this Committee demonstrates 888’s firm commitment to continuous ESG improvements and ensuring sustainable and ethical best practice across the Group’s activities.”
Chicago Fire FC has become the first US soccer club to offer gambling awareness sessions, which also focus on problem gambling, throughout the organisation.
Epic Risk Management and the Entain Foundation US are involved in the scheme, which also aims to promote sports integrity and responsible gambling. Epic Risk Management will tailor their sessions for the under-13 team through to the under-19 side, as well as the first team.
Director of performance, advisory and support services at Chicago Fire FC, Brian Roberts, stated: “We know that young athletes are at greater risk of being affected by problematic gaming and gambling, and we recognise the need to take a proactive approach to educating our players and parents on these risks.
“The real-life stories that Epic Risk Management use in their educational sessions brings focus to gambling in a way that will have a true impact and will provide our Academy players with the understanding needed to make informed decisions. We are excited to work with an organisation open to customising an approach to educating our Academy players.”
Finally, there was a very interesting long-read in iGamingFuture this week, where Simon Pilkington, the CEO of KaFe Rocks, discusses the difficult balance between maximising player acquisition and ensuring customer protection. It’s definitely one to check out with lots of great insight.
There was also a fascinating interview with Joe McCallum, the Director of Sportsbook at the Coingaming Group, in SBC News on Friday where he detailed Sportsbet.io’s new approach to sponsorship agreements, including their increased focus on safer gambling and community support.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media