Safer Gambling Weekly Round-Up, by Dam Mad Media

Jenga - Safer Gambling
It has been an incredibly busy week in the world of Safer Gambling so let’s dive right in.
GamCare

On Tuesday, GamCare published their Annual Review for 2020/21, which covers the final 12 months of their current three-year strategy. Highlighting a number of developments, they described it as ‘an incredible period of change, growth, and of course, recent challenge’.

Some of the highlighted significant moments for the UK industry included the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act and the ban on credit card wagering. GamCare also said that their main achievement was the launch of their Young People Service, which provides ‘dedicated practitioners’ to help those aged between 11 and 18 who are struggling with gambling-related harm. Over 70% of those who used their support and treatment services successfully completed the programme.

Over the last year, GamCare experienced a 9% increase in the number of chats and calls, with the number of treatment sessions rising by 14%. Gamble awareness training increased by 64% compared to 2019/20, while 95% of callers to the National Gambling Helpline said they would recommend it.

CEO Anna Hemmings said: “Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, this year we have reached more people than ever. For those harmed by gambling, this was a particularly challenging year, in which the isolation, stress and money worries may have been amplified by the pandemic.”

TalkBanStop

In related news, GamCare, Gamban and GamStop have all hailed the preliminary success of their TalkBanStop campaign, which was launched in early March.

The aim of this 12-month pilot was to highlight the support services provided by GamCare, the blocking software provided by Gamban as well as GamStop’s self-exclusion scheme.

GamCare said that TalkBanStop was introduced to over five million people, while 55% of those subscribing to Gamban did so for the maximum amount of time.

Gamban founder, Jack Symons, said: “Working in partnership with GamCare on the TalkBanStop initiative has been a very positive experience. GamCare’s dedication to supporting individuals and affected others experiencing gambling related harm, along with a high level of focus, strategy and wisdom, has made the process of delivering the TalkBanStop initiative relatively straightforward.”

Meanwhile, Hemmings said: “Since the TalkBanStop campaign started there has been huge value in the collaboration of the three partners, all of which have a shared aspiration in reducing gambling harms.

“What we’ve seen through the pilot is the ability to share best-practice with one another and provide the tools and support to make it as easy as possible for people to get help in one place.

“We believe the impact of our interventions, layered together, amplifies the effects of the others for the individual in recovery, just as our coming together as organisations has multiplied our efforts to achieve greater impact. Going forward, we want TalkBanStop to become normalised as a first port of call for anyone looking to stop or control their gambling.”

GamStop

Speaking of GamStop, last week they announced a partnership with Queens Park Rangers FC which will see them raise awareness of their service in the matchday programme, on the QPR website and on social media.

GamStop chief exec Fiona Palmer said: “QPR have been incredibly proactive in launching this partnership with GamStop and we are delighted that the club will be using its extensive platform to raise awareness of the tools that are available to those who may be experiencing gambling-related harm.”

Kindred

Kindred Group announced their Q3 figures earlier in the week, with the headline being a reduction in the amount of revenue generated from harmful gambling to 3.3% from 4.3% in Q2. This is the lowest percentage since Kindred started publishing this data earlier in the year as part of their ‘Journey towards zero’ strategy. Their aim is to generate no revenue at all from harmful gambling by the end of 2023.

However, the percentage of players who saw an improvement after some sort of intervention from the company fell in Q3, from 76.9% last quarter to 64.9%.

Speaking on the figures, Kindred chief executive Henrik Tjärnström said: “Whilst we welcome this decrease, we do understand that we still have to work hard to further decrease this number. In line with our roadmap, our operational teams have worked to implement more proactive customer interactions, and this has resulted in an increase in the use of control tools to help customers stay in control.

“We have also taken a more cautious approach towards the younger demographic, since this group is at a higher risk financially and is more prone to addiction. Therefore, we have set up tailored approaches to de-risk customers that are between 18-24 and we can already see the benefits from this action.”

Kindred have also published a peer-reviewed research paper by Head of Responsible Gambling and Research, Maris Catania. Working alongside PhD tutor Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, the paper studied the application of ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5’ criteria in the assessment of “gambling disorders to actual online gambling behaviours”.

The company say this is “the basis for the ideology behind Kindred’s behavioural monitoring system”. Professor Griffiths said: “To limit harmful gambling, the behaviour has to be identified in the first place. Our research provides Kindred with actual examples of the types of behaviour engaged in by problem gamblers, which could be used by the player protection team to identify potential markers of harm.”

Betting and Gaming Council (BGC)

Speaking of reduced rates of problem gambling, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has said its members would ‘keep the momentum’ on falling rates of gambling-related harm following encouraging data from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)’s quarterly telephone survey.

In September, Yonder Consulting interviewed a representative sample of 4,005 UK adults aged over 16.

Their survey highlighted that the overall number of problem gamblers as defined by the Problem Gambling Severity Index had dropped to 0.3% of all respondents, from 0.6% in September 2020. One of the steepest drops in the number of problem gamblers was in the 16-24 age group – from 0.8% to 0.4%. There was also a steep precipitation in the number of male problem gamblers, from 0.8% to 0.3%.

The percentage of the UK population at moderate risk of gambling-related harm had dropped to 0.7%, which is a significant reduction year-on-year but represents the same figure that was recorded in June.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “Since being established in 2019, we have worked tirelessly to drive up standards in the regulated betting and gaming industry and promote safer gambling.

“Our initiatives have included using advertising to promote safer gambling tools like deposit limits and time-outs, investing more in research and treatment, funding an education programme provided by GamCare and YGAM, implementing the credit card ban and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes and changes game design, as well as using technology to intervene with customers online.

“One problem gambler is one too many, however, and we are determined to keep up the momentum in the months and years ahead.”

Howard League

The Howard League have this week demanded change in how the UK’s Criminal Justice System addresses ‘crimes linked to problem gambling’ following a two-year study on the relationship between crimes committed and gambling issues.

This was stated as part of the League’s ‘Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling’ led by Lord Goldsmith QC in their ‘State of Play’ briefing. It was stressed that a ‘lack of knowledge’ regarding how problem gambling can lead to crime was hampering the work of the CJS.

Chair of the Commission on Problem Gambling, Lord Goldsmith QC, said: “Crime related to problem gambling represents unplumbed depths of which the criminal justice system seems largely unaware.

“Prisons do not screen for signs of problem gambling when people arrive, and it would be up to individual probation practitioners to pick up on problem gambling from their caseload – with limited guidance to support the people they are supervising or to advise on what treatment services might be available locally.

“Pockets of good practice do exist, particularly where the police first make contact with people who may have committed offences linked to problem gambling, but far more work needs to be done across the system to tackle this issue and reduce crime.”

Ireland

Moving to Ireland and two former directors of Paddy Power, Stewart Kenny and Fintan Drury, have urged for regulatory changes as Ireland rewrites its gambling laws.

The Times reported on Sunday that the pair have launched the Stop Gambling Harm Now body alongside Ian Armitage. Last week, we reported that the creation of a strong regulatory body for the industry in Ireland had moved a step closer, while there have been greater calls for much stricter advertising laws pertaining to gambling related products too.

The changes mirror those happening in the UK and Kenny believes that legislators in both countries have been too slow in dealing with the impact of gambling-related harm. He highlighted a reduction in tax revenues and wider economic considerations as being the reasons behind this, but stressed that the messaging around safer gambling must also be maintained.

He said: “Politicians are the first line of defence for society’s well-being so there can be no let-up in keeping this issue front of the political mind in any democracy where requisite controls are not in place.”

Meanwhile, Drury has recently published a new book, See-Saw, and says that “stemming the growth of 24/7 gambling is the tallest of tall orders”. He goes on to say: “It’s not easy to challenge some fundamentals of an industry where you once had a leadership role.

“It leaves you exposed to the hypocrisy charge but the evidence of a global increase in problem gambling is incontrovertible, so if you understand its source and don’t trust the industry, then it seems important to highlight the problem.”

Despite these comments, current Flutter Entertainment Chief Executive Conor Grant highlighted the measures they have introduced as part of their ‘ongoing commitment’ to safer gambling, but also welcomed the changes proposed in Ireland.

European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA)

In related news, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has stated they welcome the regulatory plans proposed in Ireland, but have concerns about the implementation of a ban on free bets.

University of Bristol

University of Bristol researchers have called for a ban on all gambling advertisements in relation to esports, saying they are ‘dramatically more appealing to children and young persons than to adults’. The research was conducted by the University’s chair of marketing Professor Agnes Nairn alongside marketing lecturer Dr Raffaello Rossi in the form of an online survey.

It was concluded that young people should be defined as being between the ages of 16 and 24, rather than 16 and 17, in the advertising codes. They said the rules should be tightened around content marketing and for ads to be clearly labelled. They also suggested asking young people what appeals to them about gambling advertising, with a view of omitting these things in future marketing campaigns.

Nairn said: “We know from previous research that children are actively following and engaging with gambling content on social media and regulators are struggling to keep up with this trend. This new research shines a spotlight on two specific types of gambling adverts: content marketing and esports that are strongly and significantly more appealing to children and young people than to older adults.

“Importantly, the current regulations do not address these types of advertising at all. The esports market is forecast to exceed a billion dollars this year. It has an audience of 500 million people, most of them children and young people. The regulations need to be reformed as a matter of urgency.”

YGAM

Kev Clelland, the strategic alliance director at the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust, backed this up, saying: “The findings support the evidence we submitted to the Gambling Act Review where we called for more to be done to minimise the exposure that children have to gambling advertising.

“All gambling advertising should be designed and displayed in a way that is appropriate for adults and avoids marketing techniques that appeal to children. There is opportunity to strengthen advertising protections and both the advertisers and the platforms which host adverts should use technology and data to do more.”

KSA

In the Netherlands, chair of the regulator KSA, René Jansen, apologised for the technical issues which plagued the national exclusion register CRUKS during the opening weekend of the newly regulated Dutch market at the start of the month. He also warned operators to show restraint and responsibility when it comes to advertising, otherwise it could lead to public opposition. He went on to say: “Not everything that is legally allowed is also prudent. It is unwise to push the limits of what is legal, especially when it comes to targeting young people.”

Sweden

On Thursday, it was reported that the weekly deposit limits and reduced customer bonuses imposed on casinos in Sweden during the pandemic will end on 14 November after nearly 17 months.

Uplatform

Finally, jumping on the popularity of Squid Game, Uplatform released a responsible gambling message inspired by the hit series. It makes for engaging Friday afternoon reading.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media
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