Welcome to another Safer Gambling Weekly Round Up.
Safer Gambling Week

With Safer Gambling Week having concluded, the fallout is now being analysed, with the Betting and Gaming Council releasing data to suggest that it was the most impactful ever.

Around 25 million social media impressions using the #SGWeek2021 hashtag were recorded across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, representing a 19% increase in coverage.

Some of this was facilitated by unique safer gambling content produced by bookmaker sports ambassadors including Anthony Joshua, Michael Owen, AP McCoy and Racheal Blackmore.

The aim was to “kickstart a national conversation on the vital subject between staff, customers and their friends and family, as well as highlight the range of tools that are available to help people stay in control of their betting” and BGC chief executive Michael Dugher was delighted with how the event went.

He said: “It’s great news that this year’s Safer Gambling Week was such a huge success. It is now an established annual event creating a national conversation on the importance of safer gambling, the tools that are available and the help that’s out there.

“Once again, this shows the regulated betting and gaming industry’s commitment to continuing to raise standards. But our commitment to safer gambling is not just for one week of the year. Safer gambling is our mission for every week of the year.

“Millions of people enjoy a bet safely and responsibly, and the fall in problem gambling rates suggests that the work we have done at the BGC to promote safer gambling is starting to have an impact. But we are not complacent and will continue our efforts to raise standards even higher.”

Facebook

Speaking of the BGC, on Thursday they welcomed the news that Facebook will be allowing users to opt-out of gambling-related advertising as they aim to improve their online environment.

The move by the social media giant will help BGC members adhere to their ‘Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising’, which was implemented in 2020. Over the last year, the BGC has worked alongside Facebook in this regard.

Speaking about the decision, Dugher said: “I welcome this move by Facebook and I would urge all social media and search platforms to provide the ability for users to opt-out of viewing betting adverts.”

GambleAware

GambleAware have recommissioned the Scottish Gambling Education Hub for another three years, starting from 1 November 2021.

The Fast Forward charity has delivered The Hub for the last three years. Targeting young people and the adults with whom they have contact, they aim to raise awareness of gambling-related harm, as well as help those working with young people to offer harm reduction advice.

Their stated aim for the next three years is to ensure that all young people in Scotland can access resources in relation to gambling education and prevention. They have also announced that improvements to their programme will be implemented and that they’ll host a national conference in 2022 through their Scottish Gambling Education Network.

Fast Forward CEO Allie Cherry-Byrnes said: “Fast Forward’s work supports young people to make informed choices regarding risk-taking behaviours, towards positive life-long health outcomes.

“Gambling has become normalised in our communities, with many young people affected by their own gambling, or by the gambling of a parent, carer, or family member.

“The renewed funding from GambleAware means that the Scottish Gambling Education Hub will continue to work with young people, parents and educators to raise awareness of gambling harms and ensure support is accessible if they need it.”

Meanwhile, GambleAware’s prevention director, Dr. Jane Rigbye, said: “Fast Forward has demonstrated its value as a key partner to prevent gambling harm among young people in Scotland. Given the success of the work already carried out, continuity is vital.

“The Scottish Education Hub has engaged with young people, parents, the community and youth workers in an impactful and creative way to deliver unique projects over the years.

“We are delighted to support them further in their prevention and education work and look forward to publishing the independent evaluation of the project for their work in 2022.”

Speaking about GambleAware, at the end of last week, it was announced they had granted £250,000 to help fund research into lived experiences of women in relation to gambling and gambling-related harm.

A team will embark on an 18-month multidisciplined approach that will include forensic interviews, roundtables and community committees with women who have lived experience of gambling harm.

The aim is to determine what drives gambling harms for women in the UK, what interventions and policies are needed to prevent it, and to explore the relationship between the lived experience of women and gambling treatment/support services.

GambleAware research director Alison Clare said: “Women’s experiences of gambling harms are under-researched, often presented as homogenous and in terms of how they differ to men’s experiences.

“We are pleased to have awarded this grant to this strong multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team which will be drilling down into the experiences and needs of different communities of women. This is an important step towards ensuring GambleAware and others are commissioning the range of treatment and support services women want and will use.”

Netherlands

Last week, we reported there had been a rough consensus on a new industry slogan in the Netherlands in relation to Safer Gambling – “Voorkom spijt, stop op tijd, 18+” (“Avoid Regrets, Stop in Time, 18+”). However, this week, Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker decided to ignore the view of the trade associations and go for “Wat kost gokken jou? Stop op tijd. 18+” (“How much does gambling cost? Stop in Time. 18+”) instead.

This follows a recommendation from mental health organisation the Trimbos Institute, as it more clearly highlights the costs of gambling. The new slogan will feature on all gambling advertising going forward.

Kansspelautoriteit (KSA)

Staying in the Netherlands, it was reported at the start of this week that regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) is closely monitoring the conduct of 25 unlicensed online gambling operators to ensure they are not engaging with customers in the country, protecting the KOA regime legalising gambling as a result.

In a statement, the KSA said: “At legal providers, participants in games of chance can play in a safe environment, in which there is a reliable game and sufficient attention for gambling addiction. An objective of the law is to ‘channel’ players from illegal to legal providers.”

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

In a similar vein, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has authorised the first blocking orders against offshore lottery websites, ruling that two were operating illegally.

In a statement, Authority member Fiona Cameron said: “We Love Lotto and Red Fox Lotto are both operating illegally in Australia, meaning there are no consumer safeguards in place for players.

“Blocking illegal offshore sites protects Australians from potentially dodgy operators, where there is little or no recourse if things go wrong. Lottery services that are licensed in Australia and operating legally have important safeguards that consumers expect.”

While these are the first lottery sites to be blocked in Australia, during 2020/21, the Authority said they were able to block 55 websites overall. Most of these sites had seen a subsequent decrease in Australian visitors by at least 90%.

Veikkaus

Moving to Finland and monopoly Veikkaus has hailed the introduction of loss limits on their slot machines, saying problem gambling is now at an “all-time low”.

Revenue from the machines is set to drop by 84.6% as a result. Loss limits for so-called “fast-paced” online games are nothing new in Finland, but the amount was reduced from €2,000 to €500 per month during the pandemic. In August 2021, the rule was extended to slot machines in physical locations.

Data from September and October 2021 shows that up to 100,000 players were prevented from gambling as they had reached their loss limit, with the majority being self-imposed limits of under €200.

Veikkaus also said that the use of player ID for slot machines reached 80% in 2021 and that they expect this to be mandatory for all games by 2023, having introduced the measure in January for slots. The number of slots machines in Finland has also significantly reduced as part of an effort by Veikkaus.

All of this has seen a 50% reduction in problem gamblers in Finland, down to 0.8% of the population from 1.6% this time last year.

Veikkaus’ chief data officer and vice president of data and analytics, Lauri Halkola, said: “Ever since the compulsory loss limits were introduced, gambling has fallen significantly in the groups of both men and women, and in all age groups, and the differences between gambling rates have evened out. The most drastic drops have occurred in the groups playing the most and in the oldest age groups.

Meanwhile, Veikkaus’ vice president of sustainability Susanna Saikkonen said: “Our extensive sustainability measures have aimed at reducing problem gambling in particular. Our most recent indicators suggest that we are definitely going to the right direction. In other words, gaming – especially slots – is clearly at a turning point.”

Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media
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