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Join us for another round-up of all the weeks happenings in safer gambling.
Flutter

Conor Grant has said Flutter is looking to increase customer protection across their brands, saying “Catch us if you can” as their aim is to be a leader in safer gambling.

In a blog post published on Monday, the Flutter UK and Ireland chief executive highlighted the changes implemented since the UK Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act began a year ago, stressing Flutter had not been “idly tinkering round the edges in the hope that the status quo can be maintained.”

Focusing on Flutter’s ‘Affordability Triple Step’, he stressed that safer gambling was a key part of a customer’s journey, from registration where gambling limits are allocated to in-game monitoring. If concerns are flagged, a backstop is implemented to prevent further losses.

Grant said: “We will not wait for regulation where there is clear evidence to act, as we continue to evolve for the benefit of our millions of customers. We have been looking at meaningful ways we can enhance customer protections – not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is vital for the sustainability of our industry.”

On specific measures used as part of the customer journey, he said: “We know that blanket measures are blunt instruments that will fail to tackle the issue. Each customer’s circumstances are different, which is why we need to take a risk-based approach to safer gambling and affordability.”

Grant also said there had been an increased focus in protecting 18-25-year-olds from problem gambling, as they are a high-risk group, with deposit limits of £500 per month for this demographic being implemented from early 2022.

Betting and Gaming Council

Speaking of Flutter, as part of their membership of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), they have joined other brands such as bet365 and William Hill, along with Advertising Association members and the Lotteries Council, in the formation of an Ad Tech Forum. The aim is to find out how the latest technology can be used to protect children and vulnerable adults online.

Meta, Twitter, Google and Snap will also feed into the forum, along with advertising bodies, with the primary aim to assess how data can be used to improve the accuracy of age verification.

The Forum forms part of what was agreed in the Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising. Measures include ensuring that all sponsored/paid for social media adverts are targeted at those aged 25 and over unless it can be proved the adverts meet a standard of age targeting verified by an agreed third party. The more robust use of safer gambling and 18+ messaging is also included, particularly when gambling ads appear in search engines.

This new initiative also relates to comments made by BGC chief executive Michael Dugher last week, in which he stressed that child protection should be placed ‘front and centre’ of the Gambling Act review.

Dugher also said: “I am delighted that the BGC has been able to co-ordinate the Ad Tech Forum, which I’m sure will come up with new ways of protecting young people and the vulnerable online.

“Since being set up two years ago, we have worked tirelessly to drive up standards and promote safer gambling, and this is proof of our determination to go even further.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Advertising Association, Stephen Woodford, said: “We welcome the proactive work by the gambling industry with tech platforms and advertising bodies. It is essential that gambling ads online and in social media meet the highest standards of social responsibility.”

Speaking of the BGC, this week they also published a 28-page report highlighting the positive contribution the regulated betting industry makes to sport, the economy and local communities in the UK. A number of Safer Gambling initiatives were highlighted, including the £10million Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, which is funded by members of the BGC and delivered by the GamCare and YGAM charities.

Regulus Partners

Last week we reported some of the keynote speeches that took place at the GambleAware Conference and these were analysed by Regulus Partners for SBC News on Monday. Highlights in the piece include the muddied definition of affordability, along with the lack of clarity regarding the problem that needs fixing. The forthcoming reforms of the Gambling Commission were also covered, as well as whether advertising restrictions should focus on under-25s rather than just under-18s.

Netherlands

Moving to the Netherlands and regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has learned of an error within the CRUKS self-exclusion database, and have asked licensed operators in the country to ensure that none of their customers are currently signed up to it. They have also asked for any records to be updated too.

The KSA received reports that players who had signed up to CRUKS could still register new online iGaming accounts from 2-20 October, the opening weeks of the new regulated Dutch market. The KSA said these errors may have been caused by entering key information such as a customer’s citizen service number (BSN) or date of birth incorrectly when registering with CRUKS.

Their statement said: “When registering players, errors may have been made between 2 and 20 October when filling in the BSN, name and/or date of birth. Think, for example, of (manually) entering the surname incorrectly, omitting special (punctuation) characters or registering without a BSN (while the player does have one).

“If this is the case, CRUKS will be consulted by the provider with incorrect data and the player will still have access to the game of chance. The KSA cannot recover that because it is data in the provider’s system. The KSA therefore calls on providers to check the data.

“If you have registered without a BSN (while the player does have one), or if the correct data has not been entered, the existing CRUKS code must be deleted.”

The KSA has said that these issues have now been resolved, with any incorrect information flagged as verification is now tied to the country’s Citizen Service Number Management Facility.

Staying in the Netherlands and the KSA has confirmed that the new mandatory warning that all licensed gambling operators must employ on all gambling marketing and advertising will come into effect on 1 April 2022. As reported in previous newsletters, the phrase “Wat kost gokken jou? Stop op tijd. 18+” (“How much does gambling cost? Stop in time. 18+”) has been chosen.

Despite increasing concern over gambling advertising, it became clear this week that there is no majority in the Dutch Lower House to pass new legislation that would tighten restrictions after a new code on gambling advertising was released on Wednesday. However, Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, will investigate the possibility of introducing mandatory deposit limits at the point of registration while the possibility of further rules has also been left open. This week, it was also revealed that over half of all televised gambling advertising in the Netherlands in October and November 2021 came from the state-owned TOTO and Holland Casino. The new code will see the introduction of a number of measures including only three (non-lottery) gambling commercials per commercial break.

This week, Dekker also promised to clamp down on illegal gambling from Curaçao, a constituent country of the Netherlands, following an investigation from ‘Follow the Money’. Their piece suggested that 40% of unregulated gaming worldwide goes through the island. Discussions between the Netherlands and Curaçao will see an independent gaming regulator being introduced, with the power to revoke gaming licenses. It is worth noting that Curaçao is “fiscally autonomous” to the rest of the Netherlands though.

Dekker said: “Based on local laws and regulations, there is a small number of master licences provided by the authorities of Curaçao which could be transferred without the intervention of a government body. This has resulted in a large number of sub-licences, which explains the range of online games available in Curaçao.

“The cabinet takes the concerns about illegal gaming in Curaçao seriously and is committed to limiting the illegal offering of games of chance from Curaçao. Curaçao is currently working on a step-by-step plan of action to limit and better regulate the supply of games of chance. As expected, this action plan will be adopted this month.”

Australian Communications and Media Authority

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has sanctioned further blocking of illegal offshore gambling and affiliate sites that have breached the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act. The ACMA has now blocked 375 websites since November 2019, while over 150 illegal services have left Australia since the ACMA started enforcing rules on illegal offshore gambling which were implemented in 2017.

They said: “Website blocking provides a valuable opportunity to alert the public to illegal gambling services through the messaging that appears when there is an attempt to access the site.

“ACMA is reminding consumers that even if a service looks legitimate, its unlikely to have important customer protections. This means Australians who use illegal gambling services risk losing their money.”

Gamban

Finally, there was a very interesting piece on LinkedIn this week from Gamban’s VP of Strategic Partnerships, Stephen Aupy, on problem gambling in Kenya. With the country having a very young population, it’s no surprise that they have the highest number of 17-35-year-old gamblers in sub-Saharan Africa. With technological developments enabling remote internet access, this has exacerbated the issue of problem gambling too, with Aupy focusing initially on the problem and then the initiatives that Gamban have adopted in the country to try and remedy it.

EPIC Risk Management

And very finally, we stumbled across this fascinating video on YouTube with the SVP of US at EPIC Risk Management, John Millington. Taken at the SBC Betting on Sports Europe conference in November, Millington details how EPIC intends to tackle problem gambling in the US, as well as focusing on a number of other key markets, stressing the importance of tackling gambling-related harm early on. He hopes that as the US market grows, the importance of harm prevention can grow with it, while he also details the launch of their new Pro Sport Advisory board, with the aim of helping professional sportsmen and women who are suffering from gambling-related harm.