UK Gambling Commission
In the UK, the Gambling Commission’s snappily titled ‘Consumer Experiences and Attitudes to Free Bets & Bonuses’ survey suggests that 61% of respondents agree with the statement: “Free bets/bonuses don’t change the amount I gamble.” Meanwhile, 31% said they were incentivised.
Sixty-five percent of respondents say that over the last 12 months, they have received an incentive to gamble, with free spins and bets being the most common offering, followed by sign-up offers.
Emails accounted for nearly half of the correspondence, with around one in five derived from targeted social media. Online betting was the most common activity for which incentives were based, followed by online slots, bingo and casino.
In the same survey, the UKGC highlighted the increased popularity of esports, particularly among younger bettors, who are far more engaged with in-play betting too.
It was also discovered that younger gamblers were far more likely to engage with responsible gambling tools, with those in the 18-24 age group most likely to have self-excluded. The figure here is 14%, as opposed to 13% for the 25-34 age demographic.
Worryingly, more than 50% of bettors said they were unaware of self-exclusion tools, with 6% having used them and 34% being aware of their existence but not having utilized them.
Around 70% of gamblers said they were not aware of multi-operator self-exclusion, product exclusion and gambling blocking software, while the imposition of financial limits was the most popular safer gambling product, with 8% of respondents having used this in the last year. This compares with 5% who used a reality check.
The UKGC said: “Operators are required to offer these tools, and they should provide them and promote them in a way that maximises take up from those that would benefit from them, but there will always be customers that are experiencing harm that would not opt to take up any of these gambling management tools.
“This is why it is important for operators to have effective customer interaction approaches so that harm is identified at an early point with the operator acting to reduce harm. We would like to see an increased awareness of the gambling management tools, and for operators to continue to improve promotion so that customers make the best use of the right tool, at the right time for them.”
Speaking of the Gambling Commission, they have also updated their guidance on T&Cs to ensure that ‘fair and transparent terms and practices’ are used by licensed operators as ‘in some cases’, unfair terms of play have given them ‘undue discretion’ in determining outcomes and disputes.
GamCare have highlighted issues raised through the National Gambling Helpline by British consumers who are trading high-risk stocks and cryptocurrencies, as they support a self-exclusion scheme for the sector similar to that for gambling.
One caller mentioned by GamCare stated: “I was looking at the trading apps nearly 16 hours a day. I kept putting my money in and chasing losses, whilst lying to my family about how I was getting on. On a Friday night, I would dread the weekend because I couldn’t do any trading. That’s when I realised, I was no longer trading, I had a gambling problem.”
Through workshops, GamCare have asked for advice from experts in a number of sectors, with the outcome suggesting that regulatory bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority could introduce a self-exclusion scheme for all trading platforms that offer high-risk investments and day trading.
The CEO of Gamstop, Fiona Palmer, said: “Over the last three years, we have seen how effective tools like Gamstop can be for those struggling with online, regulated gambling.
“The area of cryptocurrency trading especially has experienced rapid growth and, with that, potential harm. We would be happy to discuss the area of self-exclusion with the FCA and other organisations working in this sector.”
Meanwhile, Jack Symons, the CEO of Gamban, said: “Many of these products (CFDs, binary options, crypto, etc) share a lot in common with gambling platforms; there’s no barrier to entry, they encourage over-trading and possess game-like characteristics. Regular consultations with advisors on the National Gambling Helpline, in addition to research undertaken by Gamban, identified the need to add these products to the Gamban block list.”
Participants in the workshops also suggested that trading and investment platforms should contain tools that enable customers to protect themselves from trading harm.
Racecourse Media Group
The CEO of the Racecourse Media Group (RMG), Martin Stevenson, has urged stakeholders in the horse racing industry to keep lobbying the Government over the review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
A number of senior figures in racing have expressed their concerns on the effect of affordability checks, while there are further worries about a clampdown in television advertising, which could reduce coverage of the sport.
Stevenson said: “We think it is enormously important that the millions of people who enjoy the sport have the opportunity to explain their concerns to MPs and government. People enjoy betting on racing and sports, and it is vital that government hears from fans on that, so that we avoid a potential catastrophe for the sport if new legislation is not proportionate and targeted.”
The Netherlands Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has told licensed operators that they must do much better at targeting their online advertising campaigns.
The call came after the KSA discovered that three licensed operators had adverts appear on a ‘Donald Duck website’, the ‘TeenTok’ YouTube channel and around ‘Marble Mania’, a popular family TV show.
They also stated that “less serious deviations from the law were found at seven other providers: they too must take measures. With one provider, the KSA could limit itself to a recommendation.”
The three operators in question have been issued with formal warnings, while the KSA has written to all 11 licensees to stress that ‘special attention must be paid’ to ensure that online advertising is not seen ‘by vulnerable persons such as minors and young adults.’
The KSA said: “The protection of vulnerable groups such as minors, young adults or problem players is a priority for the KSA. They are extra sensitive to gambling addiction and are therefore not allowed to see gambling advertising. The law sets strict requirements for this. Even if advertising is outsourced, the licence-holder remains responsible. The agreements must be laid down in writing in advance.”
The KSA also stressed that ‘Safe Play’ messaging must be included on all campaigns and concluded by saying: “The Gaming Authority keeps a close eye on advertising by gambling providers and takes enforcement action where necessary. New providers can also look forward to such a treatment. Fines are not excluded if violations are found.”
Staying in the Netherlands and NOGA director Peter-Paul de Goeij has teamed up with AGOG chair Feite Hofman to launch the “Feitmans & PeePee” podcast. The first episode addresses the hot topic of gambling advertising in the Dutch market.
In Ireland, William Hill have banned the use of credit cards for betting online, with the new rule having been implemented from Wednesday.
Credit card betting has not yet been formally outlawed by the Irish Government, but it does contravene the Irish Safer Gambling Code. Despite this, a number of companies still allow credit card betting, while others that claim they don’t reportedly permit it through apps such as Revolut and Apple Pay.
A new regulator is set to be introduced in Ireland around the turn of the year, with a ban on credit card betting most likely to be implemented. Earlier in February, both Apple and Google provided betting apps in Ireland with the option of blocking credit card transactions through their Apple Pay and Google Pay platforms, but not all of them have taken this up.
Health Research Board (HRB)
Staying in Ireland and towards the end of last week, it was reported that a lack of social mobility was a key factor in relation to problem gambling in the country. The Health Research Board (HRB) detailed their findings in their first ‘Irish Gambling Trends’ report, which also highlighted a near seven-time higher risk of problem gambling among those who have high-risk alcohol consumption as opposed to low risk.
The report also found that 12,000 people in Ireland are deemed to be high-risk gamblers, with 35,000 at moderate risk and 90,000 at low risk. Those living in deprived areas were more likely to be high risk.
The lead author of the report, Dr Deirdre Mongan, Research Officer at the Health Research Board, said: “Men are five times more likely than women to be at-risk gamblers. In terms of the profile of at-risk or problem gamblers, commonly, it is men aged 25-34 who are living in a deprived area, are unemployed and experience substance use problems such as drug use, alcohol use disorder or smoking.”
While the rate of gambling in Ireland in general is lower than that in the UK, at-risk and problem gambling figures are similar to that of England, Wales and Scotland. However, they are “considerably lower than in Northern Ireland.”
Mongan continued: “This new HRB data indicates that most people who gamble, do so safely. It also shows that gambling problems affect the lives of 135,000 people in Ireland, in particular, young men and people experiencing socio-economic deprivation. The correlation between problem gambling and harmful alcohol or drug use is of real concern as the presence of substance use disorders can lead to difficulties in treatment. This is reflected in a recent Irish study which found that almost one-half of problem gambling treatment cases have a substance use problem.”
Speaking of Northern Ireland, this week the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill passed the consideration stage in the Northern Irish Assembly. Further consideration is to come.
In a nod to the review of the UK’s Gambling Act in stating “any changes to the regulatory system in GB will be of significance to Northern Ireland and the Department should liaise closely with neighbouring jurisdictions in that regard”, the Assembly’s Committee for Communities recommended the Department of Communities provide ‘thorough research’ on both a betting levy and the role of a regulator.
The new Bill aims to update the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 following increased concern about protecting young and vulnerable people. The introduction of a mandatory Code of Practice and funding for research, education and problem gambling treatment through a levy are key aspects.
Paula Bradley MLA, who chairs the Committee, said: “The Committee is generally supportive of key elements of the Bill, including the legal enforcement of gambling contracts and the removal of restrictions on promotional prizes and offerings.
“The majority of the Committee were supportive of allowing bookmakers and bingo halls to operate on Sundays and Good Friday. Throughout our deliberations, it was important to us all that this legislation would strike the right balance between supporting the industry, while protecting children and enhancing support for those at risk from gambling.
“We are therefore pleased that age restrictions regarding access to gaming machines has now been set at 18 and that it will now be an offence for operators to allow minors to play gaming machines. However, we remain concerned that the absence of a ‘regulator’ means that there is no clear structure or resource for monitoring and enforcement.”
Towards the end of last week, Flutter Entertainment launched their new safer gambling strategy, with the focus being to “make every moment safe for [its] customers”.
The aim is to prevent problems from happening in the first place, rather than intervening when they do, with Flutter UK and Ireland chief executive Conor Grant describing it as “a refreshed and comprehensive” approach.
“The strategy is the culmination of many months of hard work, bringing together the best from across our existing businesses, gathering insights from industry experts, customers and colleagues to identify priority issues to focus on, and challenging areas where we need to go further,” Grant said.
Discover, educate, empower, understand and support will be the five pillars upon which the strategy is built, with more detail on each to be revealed in the coming weeks.
Grant continued: “Safer gambling has always been a central part of our culture and colleagues from across the business are committed to the successful delivery of this ambitious strategy and making every moment safe for customers.”
Finally, GGB News had a very interesting piece on the measures New York have introduced to deal with the increase in problem gambling in the state.