It may have been a quieter week due to the culmination of Safer Gambling Week, but this doesn’t mean there has been a lack of news. Take a look at what has been happening.
Netherlands

In the Netherlands, a new safer gambling slogan has been suggested. Over the last few months, the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Safety has been working alongside the Trimbos Institute to formulate a new slogan, with a shortlist of five having been drawn up. Of these, ‘Avoid Regrets, Stop in Time 18+’ was backed by the three major betting and gaming associations – the Netherlands Online Gaming Association (NOGA), VAN Kansspelen and VNLOK.

The three groups said this was ‘the most appealing, appropriate and effective’ of the five options.

Speaking about the choice, NOGA Managing Director, Peter-Paul de Goeij, stated: “NOGA, VAN Kansspelen and VNLOK call on the Minister for Legal Protection to make a quick decision on the new and more effective slogan and to choose “Avoid Regrets, Stop in Time 18+” for sectors where our associations are active.

“Both consumers and providers benefit from clarity in the short term. The sector is capable of fully implementing this slogan in the short term. The Trimbos Institute will soon present the report with its findings. NOGA, VAN Kansspelen and VNLOK look forward with confidence to the conclusions and considerations.”

Later in the week, De Goeij discussed the new slogan in greater depth with the Meneer Casino website.

Betting on Sports Europe

De Goeij was also involved in a discussion at Betting On Sports Europe this week relating to the current Dutch debate around gambling advertising and the importance of adopting a sustainable approach.

He said: “Currently, the market is open. There is advertising for gambling and what we see in Parliament is a concern and members of parliament are starting to complain and ask questions to the Minister, with some MPs even hellbent on banning advertising for online gambling, which would really be a disaster.

“There is currently a code, which is being drafted as we speak, it has already been adopted by the Dutch advertising body and this code is really good and NOGA believes in self-regulation so we are fully behind the code. But, we do think in some aspects the code should go further than it’s currently drafted.

“What we are pleading for is to have a trans-industry agreement between all gambling operators, whether it is lottery, casino or online betting, as well as the media and online broadcasters, so we could agree on the total volume that the Dutch market can sustain – because that is what it’s all about in the end, to keep advertising sustainable.”

In the same discussion, Arno De Jong, the CMO of Nederlands Loterij, highlighted the importance of the code and why the media also have a role to play in limiting gambling advertising, saying it’s in their interest to adopt rules now before an outside body imposes stricter regulations.

He said: “Self-regulation only works if we all adopt and if you look at the code, on top of the regulatory system in place, for example, we are allowed to advertise between nine in the evening and six in the morning, but if you now put on the television it is full of gaming advertising.”

Speaking of Betting On Sports Europe, there was another interesting panel in relation to Safer Gambling which highlighted the need for the industry to educate regulators about the nuances of gambling.

The importance of self-regulation by the industry was discussed in depth too, with a general belief that operators should bear the ultimate responsibility for safer gambling. However, it was noted by Tim de Borle, the CEO of Napoleon Sports in particular, that operators are just one piece of the puzzle.

He said: “We can take our responsibility, but we are only one part of the ecosystem of a safe gaming environment and if regulators and legislators are not open to say even speak with us and listen to what’s really going on, we will never get to a regulation that is balanced. That eventually brings what we all achieve or are trying to achieve, which is a safe and fun gaming environment for our players.”

Meanwhile, Niels Onkenhout, the CEO of Nederlandse Loterij, highlighted the importance of a self-regulated approach, saying: “There’s a lot of emotion around gambling, a lot of emotion with the regulators and politicians, and so indeed, educating them and informing them well is a good idea. Secondly, I think there’s a huge importance of self-regulation.”

He continued later: “If we don’t organise ourselves in a sensible way, with advertising restrictions, you’re meant to kind of make sense and resonate well with the public and as politicians.

“We need to make sure we have a real definition of what our problem players are and have specific policies in place in every company to build this that will get the emotion out of the discussion. This leads to sensible regulation as opposed to an ever-increasing burden of regulation, which ultimately will stimulate the black and the grey markets.”

Sweden

In Sweden, regulator Spelinspektionen has said they will support a government inquiry into consumer credit over concerns about the level of public indebtedness.

The inquiry was announced towards the end of last week with the aim of suggesting “measures to reduce predatory lending and counteract over-indebtedness amongst consumers”. The excessive advertising of credit services, how credit suppliers gauge customer affordability and whether consumers have measures to secure better repayment conditions will all be investigated.

Speaking about the inquiry, Spelinspektionen said it was “vital to maintaining a safe gambling market with the strongest consumer protections.”

They continued: “Against this background, the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate welcomes the Government’s decision to now appoint an inquiry to look more closely at these issues.

“We see that an improved credit assessment in Sweden can have great significance for those consumers who risk ending up in over-indebtedness and addiction due to gambling.”

Lithuania

Across the Baltic Sea to Lithuania, where the country’s Supreme Court has described gambling as “dangerous to society” in response to a case about a poker training programme.

Finding in the defendant’s favour, the Court stated: “After examining the case, the Supreme Court of Lithuania pointed out that a clear legal policy regarding gambling is being formed in Lithuania – such activities are not encouraged and considered dangerous to society, therefore gambling is restricted and controlled by various legal acts.

“The Supreme Court of Lithuania, finding that the agreement promoted gambling and that the plaintiffs sought to involve the defendant in gambling, declared the agreement contrary to public policy (i.e. the public interest), and dismissed the action.”

Lithuania introduced strict laws on gambling promotion back in July, as reported in this newsletter.

Advisory Board for Safer Gambling

In the UK, the Chair of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG), Anna van der Gaag (CBE), has said there is an urgent need for evidence-led research around gambling harm prevention.

Having led the UK Gambling Commission’s advisory on research, education and treatment (RET) for over three years, she said the phrase “we don’t have enough evidence yet” has commonly hindered research efforts into problem gambling, preventing key breakthroughs from happening.

Backing the research conducted by Dave Sackett on ‘Evidence-Based Medicines (EBM)’, Van der Gaag agreed that “evidence-based practice involved the interaction of three elements – research, clinical judgement and the voice of users, and not, as many proposed, research evidence alone.”

She stressed her support for the use of lived experience to provide that voice of users, while also saying “we must not wait for one type of research evidence to be fully complete before moving forward on planning provision of services. We must evaluate carefully as provision evolves, and adapt accordingly, listening to those who already provide treatment and support.”

This backs the view of the University of Oxford’s Muir Gray on the importance of value-based healthcare that reflects the greater needs of society. The full post can be found here.

888 Holdings

888 Holdings are looking for a new head of safer gambling following Pedro Romero’s departure after just five months, which was announced this week.

Tenlot Group

At the SBC Summit Latin America, there was a speech by Yossi Abadi, the CEO of Tenlot Group, under the title “The Gaming Industry between Social Responsibility, Profitability and Regulatory Compliance.”

Inspiring many of the delegates, he stressed that “Social responsibility in our sector is key to maintaining its legitimacy in the long term!”

“I say it with pride: what differentiates our operation from others is the correlation between our success and our social contributions in the countries in which we operate.”

In Armistice Week, new research from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was discussed which highlighted that members of the US military were at greater risk of gambling-related harm. Improved access to treatment and greater screening was called for in response.

The relation between problem gambling and anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder – all afflictions more prevalent in the military – was covered, as was the fact that military personnel are likely to be young men of a lower socioeconomic group – again a key demographic that is more susceptible to gambling-related harm. Factors such as ease of access to gambling products, waiting for deployment and missing friends and family were also highlighted as key drivers of problem gambling.

Finally, there was an interesting piece in iGamingBusiness this week concerning whether markets in Latin America can raise standards as they begin to regulate. Definitely worth a Friday afternoon read.

Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media