It has been quite a busy week in the world of Safer Gambling so let’s dive on in.
On Wednesday, it was announced that GambleAware will focus on an integrated approach that facilitates community and public health collaboration when it comes to reducing gambling-related harm.
Publishing their ‘Organisational Strategy’, which details their approach over the next five years, their aim is to boost their social directives in relation to the research, education and treatment (RET) of problem gambling. The public health aspect of this will focus on the three tiers of harm prevention – universal, selective and indicated.
Key to this has been the long-term funding guaranteed by UK gambling operatives. This will enable GambleAware to invest in new measures with a longer-term approach.
GambleAware say they will focus on four key objectives:
1) Improving awareness and understanding of gambling-related harm
2) Boosting access to services and lessening the inequalities of gambling-related harm
3) Enabling community and health services to better address gambling-related harm
4) Improvements across the board to the National Gambling Treatment Service to ensure effectiveness
Speaking about the approach, Kate Lampard CBE, chair of trustees, said: “Our vision is a society where everyone is protected from gambling harms, and that a greater proportion of those with gambling disorder will receive the right treatment with sustained recovery at rates comparable to other addictions and behavioural problems.
“To help make this a reality, it is essential to ensure gambling harms are clearly understood. It is also vital that the mechanisms for effective prevention are in place, and those who are experiencing harms are able to access the advice, support and treatment they need.”
Forty UK programmes covering research, evaluation, education and treatment have been enlisted to help GambleAware achieve their objectives. We have discussed some of these in previous newsletters.
Earlier in the week, Samaritans published best practice guidelines for the gambling industry, with the aim of helping operators understand and update their policies in relation to suicide prevention. They urge operators to adopt these points ‘as a minimum’ to demonstrate their commitment to preventing suicide among gamblers. Recommended practices include a ‘robust suicide prevention policy’ and harm prevention training, particularly in relation to marketing. Better use of data to assist suicide prevention and enhanced communication standards so those in distress are helped sensitively are also cited.
Samaritans say there is an ‘appetite from the gambling industry to do more to prevent gambling related harms and suicide’ based on their research, which highlights that suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts are more prevalent in problem gamblers, marking ‘a clear association between gambling and suicide’.
Samaritans’ Head of Policy, Mubeen Bhutta, said: “Suicide is preventable and we know different industries need to address specific challenges in order to have effective suicide prevention practices in place.
“With a clear association between gambling and suicide, identifying the changes needed in the gambling environment to prevent suicide is a vital part of our work.
“We’re proud to publish these industry guidelines and look forward to seeing all gambling businesses engage with them in a proactive effort to do more to prevent gambling-related suicide.”
Over in Ireland, Senators have been discussing the issue of problem gambling ahead of the introduction of a new independent regulator by 2023. The Government is currently looking at reforming the country’s gambling regulations, which were introduced in 1931 and 1956, making them less fragmented.
The Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy James Browne, told the Seanad Éireann: “When it is established, the regulator will have the necessary enforcement powers for licensing and powers to take action where individuals or operators fail to follow rules and regulations.
“Its key objectives will be as follows: to prevent gambling from being a source or support to crime; to ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way for companies to make decisions in certainty; and to require the promotion of safe and responsible gambling, and to combat problem gambling.”
Concerns have been expressed about the two-year period it will take for the regulator to be formed, with a number of Senators urging for it to be brought forward, stating the pandemic has been ‘a perfect storm’ for those suffering from gambling-related harm.
Senator Alice-Mary Higgins said: “Lack of regulation means we are getting all-hours and all-locations advertising, which is a concern. We know we can take action to address this, as we did when we placed constraints in legislation on the advertising and sale of alcohol.”
Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM)
On Thursday, it was announced that the YGAM have launched a new ‘Parent Hub’ website, with the aim of educating the parents of young gamers regarding online safety. This is particularly pertinent as the issue of loot boxes has recently increased in salience.
Parents are offered explanatory content highlighting the different mechanics and play styles available in contemporary games here. Custom tools like a ‘Gaming Glossary’ and ‘Game Guides’ of key games across various platforms will be employed, with the move representing an expansion of YGAM’s remit.
Amanda Atkinson, Head of Delivery for YGAM’s Parent Programme, said: “It’s been fantastic to launch the newly designed Parent Hub this week. It has been a fascinating process as we have collaborated with parents, gamers, young people, academics and educators to create a website that gives enough information and support to parents without being overwhelming and inaccessible.”
The Director of Operations at YGAM, Kev Clelland, said: “Our priority is safeguarding children and young people growing up in the online galaxy of gaming. A key part of this is demystifying the world of video games for parents and highlighting the many positive experiences gaming can provide whilst increasing their awareness of the potentially harmful aspects. The Parent Hub will empower parents with the knowledge and understanding to help their children access the world of gaming in a safe and secure manner.”
Moving to operator news and Pinnacle have strengthened their self-exclusion capabilities by forming a partnership with GamBan. GamBan’s software enables users who wish to self-exclude to do so, not just on the specific operator’s website but on thousands of other gambling sites and apps at the same time.
Pinnacle’s Head of Legal & Compliance, Veronique Dos Reis, said: “Responsible gambling and player welfare are industry-wide issues, so we’re pleased to work with GamBan to offer our customers a blanket self-exclusion tool which covers all gambling sites, not just our own.
“It’s important that those at risk have access to the simplest tools in order to protect themselves effectively. GamBan delivers exactly that, and we’re very confident this free facility will be a significant addition to our responsible gaming arsenal.”
It has been a big week for companies reporting their Q1 figures, with Kindred revealing that revenues generated from harmful gambling declined to 3.9% from 4.3% in their latest trading period.
The company’s aim is to obtain ‘0% of revenue from harmful gambling by the end of 2023’, with the latest figures released forming part of their most recent ‘Safer Gambling Update’.
Henrik Tjärnström, Kindred CEO, stated: “It’s encouraging to see a decrease in the share of revenue from harmful gambling for the first quarter of the year, however, we need to be aware that the journey forward will not be a steady decrease. We expect to see the data increase in individual quarters but we continue to work towards our ambition. Reducing harmful gambling in society is a long-term process which requires a fact-based, open, and constructive dialogue among all stakeholders.”
Kindred also reported a 0.9% uptick in ‘improvement effect after interventions’ by their customer care team, which now stands at 76.6%. They also said they have increased cooperation with treatment centres and Experts by Experience (reformed problem gamblers)
In long-form news, iGamingBusiness have run an excellent three-part series on affordability, drilling down into all its aspects.
Guided by Sonny Cott, the operations manager for affordability solutions provider BeBettor, the series looks at the definition of affordability from a UK Gambling Commission perspective as well as the current regulatory situation and the importance of using discretionary income as a key measure. The second piece looks at the role automation can play, specifically in relation to checks and interactions. The third and final article examines the concerns and misconceptions around affordability, particularly in relation to privacy, civil liberties, data protection and convenience.
As part of the implementation planning of the UK Gambling Commission’s National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, Expert Link are looking to set up a UK-wide network for people with lived experience of gambling harms, whether direct or as affected friends and family. The network will be independent, inclusive and completely led by the views of the community.
Your views could shape the direction of this network, with Expert Link having a survey. If you would like to contribute, follow the link and complete the one-minute questionnaire by Monday, May 3.
Finally, iGaming Future would like to invite you to a virtual roundtable we will be hosting soon called ‘The Future of Responsible Gaming’. We are assembling a panel of industry experts who will be discussing topics like the importance of self-regulation, the identification of behavioural indicators of problem gambling, when to intervene, and the tools of the future which can help in the battle against gambling-related harm. If you are interested in this discussion, click on the link to register.
Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media