Welcome along to another Safer Gambling Newsletter, fresh from our September hiatus and back with a round-up of everything that has been going on over the last seven days.
Gamstop

In the UK, GAMSTOP reported this week that they have seen a 25% increase in the rates of self-exclusion this year compared to last.

Publishing their bi-annual review, they highlighted that from January to June inclusive, 40,000 people had registered with their self-exclusion service. This is a 25% increase on comparable figures from 2020, with the total number of registrants now standing at 218,000.

GAMSTOP also said that there had been an increase in the number of young people accessing the service, with 41% of those registering between the ages of 25 and 34, and 59% falling between the ages of 18 and 34. Furthermore, 58% of those applying requested the longest five-year exclusion period. Meanwhile, there is a gender split of 70:30 towards men.

The report also featured results from an independent survey conducted by Sonnet, which suggests that GAMSTOP is being used by a wide range of ages, ethnicities and socio-economic groups across the UK.

GAMSTOP CEO Fiona Palmer said: “While it is encouraging to see that consumers are continuing to find GAMSTOP and use it as a crucial safety net in their recovery, this review reinforces the importance of continuing to raise awareness of practical tools that are available to those struggling with gambling-related harm.

“Our evaluation results demonstrate that gambling-related harm is an issue that affects people from all walks of life, irrespective of income, location or gender. It is imperative that we continue to reach people from across the UK, and to give them access to tools that can aid them in their recovery, or form an important preventative measure.”

U.S.A

In the US, Rush Street Interactive have become the latest big name to join the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Have A Game Plan.® Bet Responsibly.™ public service initiative.

The campaign’s primary focus is to educate sports fans on the importance of responsible gambling, focusing on areas of key importance including setting and sticking to a budget, keeping betting a social activity, being aware of the odds, and playing with trusted regulated operators.

RSI have recently boosted their compliance and corporate social responsibility functions, as well as deploying innovative responsible gaming tools within their products. One example is RushPay, which enables fast, transparent, and non-cancellable withdraw and refund capabilities.

A number of other partners have also backed the campaign, including Monumental Sports and Entertainment, NASCAR, the New York Jets, the NHL, the PGA TOUR, SeventySix Capital, Sinclair Broadcast Group, UFC, Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Football Team.

Speaking about the tie-up, RSI director of corporate social responsibility Tammi Barlow said: “Responsible gaming is at the core of our business and joining AGA’s Have A Game Plan campaign is an important extension of these efforts.

“It is crucial that our industry prioritises the protection of those who are vulnerable to gambling problems and others affected by their behaviour. Through this partnership with AGA, we will continue to provide our players with new, user-friendly tools and resources to wager responsibly, while ensuring our employees are positioned to provide the best possible customer service and care.”

Meanwhile, Casey Clark, AGA senior vice president, said: “As legal sports betting increases in popularity and availability, the success of the industry relies heavily on educating players about responsible gaming. We’re proud to have Rush Street Interactive join us in this important endeavour.”

Staying in the US and the Department of Consumer Protection in Connecticut has launched its self-exclusion portal which will enable players to exclude themselves from gambling voluntarily. This forms a key part of the safer gambling measures that are being introduced in a market that launched last May.

The portal aims to provide information to players on how to spot the signs of problem gambling as well as details on where to seek support. It’s backed by a number of key partners including the Connecticut Council on Problem Gaming, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

On the launch, DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said: “We know there is a lot of excitement around the launch of an expanded gaming industry in Connecticut.

“While this may be a form of entertainment many people can enjoy, for others it can be a harmful addiction. The ability to voluntarily exclude yourself from these activities is one of the many tools available to help.”

Meanwhile, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said: “Connecticut is about to embark on a new future when it comes to sports betting and gambling, and with these new programs come renewed responsibilities for state government.

“We’ve worked diligently to have strong provisions to ensure our self-exclusion policy is effective and provides the ability for individuals to take the proper steps to hold themselves accountable.”

Finland

Over in Finland, the Government is aiming to amend the Lottery Act, having proposed to Parliament a number of reforms designed to “reduce the disadvantages of gambling”.

A key measure in the new bill is the introduction of payment blocking for operators that are not Veikkaus that are directly targeting the Finnish market through advertising.

It is also proposed that mandatory identification will be brought in for all forms of gambling, not just slots, no later than 2024. Meanwhile, the advertising of certain gambling activities deemed as being particularly harmful, including slots, will be banned.

Gambling firms will also have to highlight age limits, the ability to apply for a ban from gambling, and services that provide support to address gambling-related harm in their marketing collateral.

Sweden

In neighbouring Sweden, the Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) operator association has dismissed a proposal from the Government that wants gambling advertising to be subject to “special moderation”.

This would see a stricter approach to marketing and formed part of a consultation that was launched in June, as reported in this newsletter. It would see gambling advertising be treated similarly to alcohol, but the BOS are pressing for the plan to be “withdrawn”.

BOS’s objections are based on how marketing is key to directing players to licensed and regulated sites.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary-general of BOS, said in a statement: “The reason why it is important that gambling takes place on the designated licensed market is [that] only there do Swedish legislators and authorities have command of consumer protection.”

Hoffstedt also stressed the potential threat to sports and journalism through a reduction in advertising and sponsorship monies, highlighting the steps already taken by the industry to reduce the aggressive amount of advertising from 2018 and 2019, which he admits was “very extensive”.

The Netherlands

As the Dutch sports betting market finally opens today, regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has reminded operators once again of their obligations under the Remote Gambling Act.

Ten online gaming licenses have been granted and were announced publicly this week, with the KSA stressing the importance to operators of monitoring players’ gambling behaviour and flagging any deviations. The KSA also says operators need to establish each player’s identity to counter money laundering and potential terrorist activity.

Operators will also need to ensure that a player is not registered with Cruks – the Central Register Exclusion of Chance Games – before being permitted to play.

Meanwhile, the proposed voluntary advertising code in the Netherlands has been blocked by Consumentenbond, the main Dutch consumer protection group.

The code was proposed by VNLOK, a trade association representing incumbent gambling operators including Nederlandse Loterij, JVH Gaming, Janshen-Hahnraths Group, Holland Casino and ZEBetting. The group say they aim to resume discussions with Consumentenbond in due course.

Consumentenbond spokesman Gerard Spierenburg said: “The advertising code as currently written is far too weak. Not enough is being done regarding the use of role models in relation to vulnerable consumer groups, such as young adults and people with mental disabilities.”

Public Health England

Finally, just as we went to print, Public Health England published their ‘Gambling-related harms evidence review’ paper, which the UK Government will assess as part of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media
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