NHS

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the NHS will likely declare it will no longer accept donations from charities associated with UK gambling, putting the funding of research, education and treatment (RET) into problem gambling in jeopardy. Ties are set to be severed from the new financial year in April.

The decision is unexpected and will likely see the NHS cease working with GambleAware, who helped to set up the NHS problem gambling service three years ago. This included donating £1million to set up a dedicated problem gambling RET clinic in Leeds, followed by the opening of further clinics in Manchester, London and Sunderland.

GambleAware have consistently stressed their complete independence from the gambling industry.

GambleAware

Speaking of GambleAware, this week they launched a new campaign focusing on female gamblers aged between 25 and 55. Having identified that up to one million women in the UK could be at risk of gambling-related harm, the campaign will focus on three key warning signs: “losing track of time; spending more than you can afford on playing and keeping your gambling secret from those around you.”

Zoe Osmund, the CEO of GambleAware, said: “Our research shows women may not be aware they are starting to experience harm from gambling or may be worried about reaching out for support due to stigma or shame. That’s why our campaign highlights the warning signs to look out for, so we can support women who gamble and prevent them from developing gambling harms.”

GambleAware also highlighted that over the last five years, the number of women having treatment had doubled from 1,134 to 2,423, while they say that 39% of women may not seek help due to fear. They also stressed that gambling websites which are more popular with women receive a 29% spike in traffic during the winter months, highlighting the timeliness of the launch of the new initiative.

Chris Philp, the current Gambling Minister, said: “I welcome this campaign to increase awareness of problem gambling among women. It’s vital that we continue to do all we can to protect those at risk from gambling-related harm. The gambling landscape has evolved immeasurably in the past 15 years and our comprehensive gambling act review will ensure our gambling laws offer the right balance of protections in the digital age.”

BetKnowMore

BetKnowMore published a blog post on Tuesday in support of the initiative too, saying their own research highlighted the need for an awareness campaign that targeted women.

EPIC Risk Management

Meanwhile, EPIC Risk Management, in conjunction with key partners Teen Tips Ltd and WHYSUP, expressed their worries about the figures, saying they will enhance their efforts to educate as many people as possible on the dangers of problem gambling.

The three organisations currently provide wholescale educational programmes centered around gambling-related harm and general wellbeing to around 200 colleges and schools every year, with each of them utilising their own contacts and skillsets to help educate female-specific groups too.

GAMSTOP

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) confirmed on Tuesday that GAMSTOP will run a new ‘Single Customer View’ scheme, with the aim of sharing data on those most at risk of gambling harm.

The aim of the trial is to identify those who are most at risk and prevent them from gambling at all regulated companies. This would prevent those who have been classified as high risk from jumping to other operators. This could be in the form of an outright ban from betting with other operators or the imposition of stricter safeguards, depending on the individual concerned.

This resolves a key issue when it comes to things like affordability checks – the potential infringement of personal data, particularly that belonging to the vast majority of people who gamble safely. Data sharing concerns have already delayed the project by almost two years, despite Philp previously having said that the establishment of the scheme is “an important step towards protecting vulnerable people”.

Wes Himes, the Executive Director for Standards and Innovation for the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “I am delighted with the commitment from BGC members and the significant financial investment they are undertaking to get on with delivering this scheme quickly.

“Whilst many companies put forward proposals for this system, it was clear that GAMSTOP stood out from the rest. They are uniquely placed as they currently operate the online gambling self-exclusion scheme which has helped more than two hundred and fifty thousand people over the last five years.

“We are committed to ensuring the trial scheme which focuses on those most at risk is proportionate and effective. We are getting on with the work of change and once again, demonstrating that despite the challenges and complexities, when it comes to safer gambling, technology is our friend.”

Himes also had a Red Box piece in The Times on Tuesday, explaining the ‘Single Customer View’ concept.

National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)

Aiming to contribute to the Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) will head a research project investigating the positive and negative effects of gambling on both the British economy and society.

The aim is to study the impact of gambling on “individuals, communities and the wider society” as well as simulating the economic effects of different policies using current data and theoretical modelling. The project is expected to be completed in the summer.

Professor Adrian Pabst, Deputy Director and Research Lead of NIESR, said: “Gambling is an important part of the UK’s economic and social landscape, but we do not have a sufficiently accurate understanding of its benefits and costs, notably the economic costs of gambling-related harm. We welcome this opportunity to conduct a rigorous assessment and help build an impartial evidence base.”

National College Athletic Association

Moving to the US and towards the tail end of last week, EPIC Risk Management announced they had partnered with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to launch a landmark educational program focused on the protection of student-athletes in relation to gambling-related harm.

The program, available to all NCAA campuses and conferences, will feature a range of delivery options including live teaching, workshops and online resources. Education materials will be tailored to help coaches, athletes, administrators and game officials, as well as health care and support personnel.

Stan Wilcox, executive vice president of regulatory affairs at the NCAA, said: “This program is the latest action by the national office as the membership adapts to increased legalised sports wagering.

“The NCAA continually assesses the evolving sports wagering landscape, and we are committed to providing tools, resources and educational initiatives for our schools and conferences.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of EPIC Risk Management, Paul Buck, said: “We are excited to work with the NCAA to further equip student athletes and athletics personnel with the most comprehensive gambling harm preventative services, support, awareness and education.”

France

Over in France, regulator l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) has ordered all operators to submit an ‘Action Plan’ every year which outlines the responsible gambling measures they have adopted. This will form part of their licensing agreement, with the recommendation having come out of the recent ‘prevention of pathological gambling and gambling by minors’ study.

The submissions will be assessed by the ANJ, with the aim of enabling a ‘constant dialogue between the regulator and operator’ in regard to safer gambling provisions.

Operators have to submit action plans on how they are preventing underage gambling, as well as reducing engagement by minors with gambling products, advertising and social media. A ‘clear pathway’ must also be signposted on the availability of software to enable parental control, as well as on the performing of ID checks and the displaying of underage warnings.

‘Canada’s ICJE index’ will be used in the Action Plans for this year, relating to excessive gambling and how this is both monitored and reported by operators. Things covered include staff training in how to spot gambling risks, as well as the controls available to customer service teams to ensure gambling-related harm is minimised. The adoption of targeted preventative measures based on customer knowledge is also being encouraged.

New guidelines will then be devised in the summer based on the feedback provided by operators, with the ANJ saying there is still “substantial progress” to be made.

The ANJ stated: “Excessive gambling and gambling by minors are indeed one of the most significant risks affecting the gambling market in France.

“The ANJ considers that substantial progress still remains to be made by the majority of operators in order to achieve the objective of preventing excessive or pathological gambling set by the state in terms of gambling and thus to consolidate the foundations of a recreational gambling market, which is the regulator’s compass.”

Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the chairman of the Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA), Rene Jansen, has requested that the “spirit of the law” is upheld by operators when it comes to the setting of limits.

Both time and deposit limits must be set by customers before playing, but a loophole enables anyone over the age of 23 to cap their playtime at 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a deposit limit of €100,000.

Jansen stressed the importance of restricting players to sensible levels, saying: “Strictly speaking, a provider does nothing wrong with this. Nevertheless, I would like to call on operators to look at this quickly and carefully. It may not be to the letter, but it is to the spirit of the law to curb the limits to be set… As I have said before: if operators themselves do not take sufficient responsibility, the government will do so.”

Meanwhile, Oddsbeater and CasinoNieuws have discovered that a number of operators licensed in the Dutch market failed to prevent player funds from being deposited from bank accounts which were not owned by the registered account holder. This could, in theory, make it possible for under-18s with identical surnames to registered players to deposit funds into that player’s account.

The law in the Netherlands states that deposits can only be made into a player’s account from a bank account that can be “unequivocally traced” to the registered player.

Sweden

In Sweden, Spelinspektionen, the Gambling Inspectorate, has said they aim to make the Spelapus.se self-exclusion website more ‘user-friendly’, with a relaunch expected in May. However, they have also reassured operators that there will be no ‘major adjustments’ to the system either.

One of the key changes will enable customers to extend an ongoing self-exclusion period, which was something that was requested by the public. Furthermore, priority will be given to ‘clearer information and guidance,’ particularly in relation to finding help for gambling-related issues. The update is taking place as a new partner, Precio Fishbone, will be involved in the project. Spelapus.se was launched three years ago and has seen just over 70,000 people self-excluding.

In a statement, Spelinspektionen said: “During the three years that Spelapus.se has been in operation, the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate has received many good views and seen the need for further functions and improvements.”

Armenia

In Armenia, the gambling industry has hit back at the proposed amendments to the federal Advertising Law, highlighted in this newsletter last week, which will see a clampdown on gambling advertising.

The National Assembly has yet to approve Finance Minister Armen Hayrapetyan’s proposed changes, which passed first reading last week. He has since urged the passing of the law in order to “unify policies for the gambling sector and imposing equal competitive terms and requirements on businesses”.

Hitting back was Chief Marketing Officer of Toto Gaming, Tereza Tokmajyan, who spoke to SBCCIS. He highlighted the already “strict limitations” on advertising in Armenia, before saying further restrictions would be “de-facto prohibition of the advertising and leave no room for effective marketing communication.”

He pointed out that many companies reduced their marketing budgets during the pandemic, resulting in a seemingly increased prominence of gambling advertising, although he did recognise public concern. He also stressed the damage done to the media industry by a potential drop in revenue as media owners suggest that 60-70% of their income comes through online gambling and lottery businesses.

Meanwhile, Digitain’s Legal Counsel Vaagn Tangamyan highlighted that the changes could result in black market operators taking greater advantage of Armenian customers.

Gambling Commission

Following on from the APBGG’s scathing report on the Gambling Commission, which we covered last week, David Clifton, the Director of Clifton Davies, took an in-depth and measured look at the situation in an editorial piece in SBC News. It’s definitely worth a read.

Michigan

And finally, there was a fascinating piece in iGB this week concerning Michigan’s collaborative approach to safer gambling, with interviews from some key people involved. Definitely worth a Friday pm read.

Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media

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