Safer Gambling Weekly Round Up by Dam Mad Media


Jenga - Safer Gambling
Welcome along to another edition of the Safer Gambling Newsletter and what a busy week it has been!
GAMStop and YGAM

A survey commissioned amongst UK university students by GAMSTOP and YGAM has highlighted that 80% of the 2,000 participants had gambled, with 35% admitting they used their bank overdrafts, payday loans or loaned money from friends to gamble and 19% admitting they used their student loan.

Of those who gambled, 41% said their gambling had a “negative impact on their university experience, including missing lectures, assignments deadlines and social activities”.

The mean spend on gambling by students was £31.52 per week, with 18% saying they spent more than £50. However, 45% of respondents said they spent less than £10 a week on gambling. The National Lottery was most popular (32%) followed by online sports betting (25%) and online bingo (18%).

Speaking about the data, Fiona Palmer, CEO of GAMSTOP, said: “Gambling-related harm on our campuses is a subject that is rarely addressed, but for any students experiencing problems with their gambling, self-exclusion can give them valuable breathing space whilst they seek additional help.

“With online gambling increasingly prevalent during the pandemic, the research shows the importance of raising awareness of a free online self-exclusion service, which is accessible to all.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Bliss, Director of External Affairs at YGAM, said: “This research provides us with some valuable insights into the behaviours of students during the pandemic. We’re keen to build on this piece of work to better understand how our programmes can safeguard and support students.

“The findings reiterate the importance of educating our young people on the risks and harms associated with gambling. Education is a powerful tool to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge and understanding to help prevent harm.”

In light of the research, YGAM and GAMSTOP have paired up with RecoverMe, an app that provides self-help tools to those experiencing gambling-related harm. The trio will conduct a ‘Gambling Support University Tour’, which will involve visits to a number of campuses to speak to students and staff.

Betknowmore UK

Betknowmore UK have announced they will launch a new peer support group for women, New Beginnings, later in January based on qualitative research conducted and published before Christmas.

Fourteen women with lived experience of gambling-related harm were consulted, with key findings suggesting that current support networks are not flexible enough to help women of different identities.

Furthermore, “it was also found that services do not sufficiently engage in preventative support work to stop women from reaching crisis point and the focus of support on immediate gambling harms means that women’s wider and longer-term needs are not being sufficiently met, for example helping them to rebuild careers.”

Support services are also rarely directly targeted at women, while the signposting of such treatment and support is often inconsistent, resulting in women having to do their own research to find the support they need. Furthermore, “when they find support, its accessibility, quantity and speed are sometimes insufficient, and the provision of peer support and women’s support groups is also insufficient to meet the demand for these services.”

Some key recommendations in the report include the need for women to see themselves reflected in safer gambling campaigns, with this more active approach key to reducing the stigma and fear surrounding women’s gambling harm. Peer support is also seen as vital, as are support groups for women, while “explicitly exploring the differences in the gambling harms and support needs of women and men would increase the relevance of treatment content to women.”

The debate about affordability checks in the UK has continued this week, with a recent YouGov poll being described as a ‘wake-up call’ for the Government by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

In the poll, only 16% of bettors support the introduction of such checks, with 58% opposed. A further 59% also thought they pose ‘a large or substantial risk’ of customers moving over to black market operators, with 51% thinking this would increase the rate of problem gambling.

The BGC has backed affordability checks that target individuals but are opposed to a blanket approach, which is currently being considered as part of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Michael Dugher, the CEO of the BGC, said: “We strongly support the Gambling Review as a once in a generation opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling. Ministers have said it will be an evidence-led process, and these findings are a wake-up call showing the potential dangers of introducing blanket affordability checks on anyone who likes a flutter.”

John Whittingdale MP

Speaking of the BGC, they held their AGM on Thursday, where John Whittingdale MP was asked questions by a live audience. One of these was whether the review would reflect the views of gamblers and the public, rather than specific lobby groups and other interests.

Rank Digital Gaming and Annexio Limited

Finally for the UK, the Gambling Commission has ordered Rank Digital Gaming and Annexio Limited to pay settlements totalling £1.3m due to social responsibility failures based on separate investigations. The former will pay £700,557, with the latter £612,000.

Denmark

Moving to Denmark and their gambling regulator, Spillemyndigheden, has stated that over 30,000 people are now signed up to the Register of Voluntarily Excluded Players (ROFUS) self-exclusion scheme.

There represents an increase of 4,336 in 2021, taking the total to 30,451 last December. The majority of people who are self-excluding are in the 20-29 age bracket (30%) with the 30-39 age group not far behind (28%). The male/female ratio is 76%/24%

Sweden

Moving across the Øresund (or indeed Öresund) to Sweden and the rumblings over the imposition of lower deposit limits continue. On Monday, it was reported that gambling regulator Spelinspektionen had “no objections” to the new proposed temporary restrictions but warned that the impact of such a move is currently unknown.

As we reported last week, a consultation has been launched by the Swedish Government on the introduction of a new lower deposit limit of SEK4,000 from 7 February to 30 June, with player protection in light of the ongoing pandemic cited.

Spelinspektionen was critical of a SEK5,000 limit when it was introduced in July 2020 and has again stressed that more data is needed before a decision can be made on whether this move should be made permanent. It hopes to report back to the government with its own data by 15 March. This will come from a range of bodies including the Swedish Public Health Agency, The Swedish Consumer Agency and the Swedish Enforcement Agency and was a condition of relaxing the previous SEK5,000 limit on 14 November last year.

Criticism of the new deposit limits has been forthcoming though, particularly from the online gambling association Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (BOS), which describes the move as “counterproductive”.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general of BOS, said: “We have requested evidence of the government’s findings of alarming increases in online casino play, as we have not seen such a development in our own books. We have also pointed out that the restrictions are counterproductive. They have an impact on the gaming market and consumers that is negative for consumer protection and public health.

“The restrictions create incentives for the high-volume consumer to, instead of playing with a single gaming company, instead play with many companies, in order to thus override the deposit limit. It also creates additional incentives for consumers to move away from the regulated market.”

Further criticism was issued by Kindred on Wednesday, saying in a written response concerning the latest proposals that “the restrictions on the online gambling industry have been ill-founded and did not meet the criteria of evidence-based policymaking.”

They went on to state: “Our main objections to the measures are that they make it more difficult for licensed gambling companies to fulfil their duty of care and have a negative impact on channelling by encouraging gambling with unlicensed operators. Requirement to introduce added measures, such as a 96-hour lock out-rule, on top of previously implemented measures within a very short time frame risks leading to a low-quality implementation of the measures and a random distortion of competition in the Swedish gambling market.

“If the Swedish government, despite the serious objections raised, decides to move ahead with temporary gambling responsibility measures, the simplest and least problematic solution would be to impose exactly the same measures that applied during the previous restriction period.”

Staying in Sweden and Spelinspektionen has warned the Swedish Bingo Association about failing to honour their requirements regarding social responsibility on their website.

The regulator concluded that logos for bet limitation, self-testing, game suspension and determination of login time were missing from the idrottensbingo.se when customers were not logged in.

However, they did state “there was no intention from The Swedish Bingo Association page not to follow the regulations” as the messaging was visible when players were logged in.

The regulator also said changes had been made to the layout of the site once the operator had been informed of these issues. Consequently, they concluded a warning was sufficient punishment as the situation was “not to be regarded as serious, but neither as minor nor excusable”.

Austrailia

Speaking of betting limits, in Australia, research commissioned by Gambling Research Australia (GRA) suggests that gamblers in the country often do not set betting limits despite wanting to do so.

Research conducted over a four-week period on 3,141 bettors by CQUniversity’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory (EGRL) found that 41% set a deposit limit, with over 50% saying they were unlikely to set one. However, those who did utilize betting limits did say they found them useful.

Further conclusions suggest that the number of people setting betting limits is low when the process is voluntary, with low-risk bettors thinking they don’t need to and high-risk bettors being reluctant.

CQUniversity research professor and lead author Nerilee Hing also discovered that the most popular tool amongst players was being able to set deposit limits, followed by an overall spend limit, a single bet amount limit, and then a loss limit.

Australia’s online operators are obligated to give customers the option of setting deposit limits and must also send regular reminders for these to be reviewed, but the research suggests that making this mandatory as well as capping maximum limits could significantly aid gambling-harm prevention.

Professor Hing said: “Of those with more serious gambling problems, 45.6% were setting at least one limit. This is encouraging, however as this group benefits the most from opt-in limits, the fact that more than half aren’t taking that option suggests there’s still a need to address why people are unwilling to limit their betting. The study showed that prompt messages need to be consistent to allow gamblers to self-reflect. Then we see better uptake of limits.”

Massachusetts Gaming Commission

There was an interesting piece in GGB News this week analysing last month’s report by the Asian CARES Center for Addressing Research, Education and Services to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission which suggested that recently arrived Asian immigrants are more vulnerable to problem gambling. This is because they often find themselves alone with little support from family or the wider community. Furthermore, local casinos often foster an atmosphere “in which the Asian community feels welcome and accepted” as “marketing and buses aid in targeting the community”.

A number of key recommendations were forwarded, including increased funding of “ethnic-based community-based organizations to develop culturally and linguistically appropriate services for gambling prevention and intervention” as well as “expanding the definition and use of mitigation funds to include workforce development programs for immigrants”. The greater tailoring of responsible gambling messaging to the Asian community was also highlighted.

SBC

Finally, SBC’s Winning Post column had another well thought-out analysis piece on Monday, focusing on why operators should defend their right to advertise and not appease on regulation. This follows stories and potential clampdowns in territories including the UK, the Netherlands, Georgia and Germany.

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