Welcome along to another edition of the Safer Gambling Newsletter where there has been quite the mélange of happenings this week.
Centre for Social Justice
In the UK, Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) think tank has proposed the creation of an ‘independent ombudsman’ which will monitor both banks and betting companies with the aim of increasing player safeguards.
The CSJ’s ‘Not a Game’ study found that 25% of gambling industry profits in the UK are generated by problem gamblers, even though they only form 0.8% of the total population. It was also discovered that through the pandemic, regular gamblers were 6x more likely to bet online than before.
The report states that banks should have a duty of care to share financial information with an appointed ombudsman, which would quantify the risk that the particular gambler was in.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Gambling Related Harm, also backed the report, citing the greater accessibility of gambling due to technological innovation as well as the influence betting has over the behaviour of individuals as being areas of concern.
Duncan Smith said: “The gambling industry now poses a very real threat to our communities and the time has come to get a hold on this pernicious addiction which has such a strong connection to social problems, including drug and alcohol addiction, debt, family breakdown and crime.
“Only wholesale reform can meet the scale of the challenge posed by the well-engineered and sophisticated practices of the gambling industry to recruit and retain their customers.”
The report also calls for a complete ban of gambling advertising stating: “The evidence shows the negative impact of gambling advertising on individuals, with increased spending, greater likelihood of betting, and normalisation of gambling.
“Given that the point of advertising is to encourage people to gamble, there is a clear case for ending all gambling advertising, marketing and inducements and adopting more stringent restrictions.”
The BetKnowMore app has gained charity status as they put training, education and lived experience at the centre of their efforts to improve treatment and recovery from gambling-related disorders.
Launching their new status, BetKnowMore has rebranded their training and consultancy programmes under the ‘BKM Evolve’ banner, setting out a three-year plan with the aim to “provide support and training services that prevent and address personal and societal harms caused by gambling”.
They have also launched a new website with the aim of moving their services to a digital platform.
CEO Frankie Graham said: “Betknowmore UK is an ambitious, young charity. We seek sustainable growth, achieved through evolving strategic planning and learning, diversity of income streams and strong partnerships with organisations with shared values.”
BKM also revealed they are looking for new trustees and board members to push their charity objectives as well as to boost fundraising.
Dutch iGaming Market
Earlier this week, the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) and the UK Gambling Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation between the regulators.
The agreement will see the agencies share more information, particularly in addressing the challenges of online gambling. These include player protection and the prevention of financial crimes associated with gambling, in particular money laundering and terrorist financing.
KSA chairman René Jansen said: “The MoU forms a good basis for sharing knowledge, cooperation and a smooth exchange of information. A clear signal is also given to providers of games of chance that cooperation is taking place at an international level. Online games of chance move across borders. That is why it is important that regulators work together.”
The Dutch regulated market launches on 1 October and the KSA is looking to form similar tie-ups with a number of other European-based gambling regulators in the meantime.
Speaking of the KSA, Jansen has also urged operators not to bombard the Dutch market with advertising once it opens, saying he cannot predict whether stricter ad laws will be introduced in future despite stringent restrictions already being in place.
Staying in the Netherlands and BetBlocker, the self-exclusion tool, has launched a Dutch language version ahead of the market going live in four months’ time.
This marks a first for the market as previously there was no software available in the Dutch language that could be used to block gambling related websites.
L&L Europe, who have been promoting BetBlocker to UK customers since 2018, have been charged with the translation, ensuring Dutch customers can get support in their native language.
The Founder of BetBlocker, Duncan Garvie, said: “The BetBlocker tool is useful for any player who needs help to manage their gambling regardless of where in the world they live. We have wanted to expand BetBlocker into other languages for a long time. However, the challenges of sourcing charitable funding limit our capacity to provide multi-language support and with the majority of our funding coming via the UKGC licensing system, that funding has to be targeted towards supporting UK players primarily.
“This new cooperation with L&L Europe is ground-breaking, allowing BetBlocker to support native Dutch speakers. It creates a sustainable strategy to allow us to reach Dutch users, something that we could not have managed without the support that L&L Europe have offered.”
Feite Hofman, the owner of “Pas op met gamen en gokken” (Be careful with gaming and gambling) has offered his full support for the project, stating: “A safer gambling tool like ‘Bet Blocker’ doesn’t exist in the Dutch language, as far as I know. I’m glad to deliver my part at this project, although we know that safer gambling tools are not the solution for gambling addiction. It will definitely enlarge the awareness about the risks of gambling too much.”
In the US, the Entain Foundation and RG24seven have joined forces with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) to launch a responsible gambling initiative called Operation Responsible Gambling which is tailored towards the military community.
Keith Whyte, NCPG Executive Director, said: “We know that active-duty personnel and veterans face higher risks for gambling problems so Operation Responsible Gambling provides access to help, information and veterans’ video testimonials aimed especially at the military community. The information will be available on social media and a micro-website.
“The research is clear that members of the military community are at higher risk for gambling problems, yet military community members may not know what to do or where to go. We want to make sure they know there is hope and help available.”
There are some smaller stories of interest as Entain have published their 2020-21 ESG report which highlights their approach to responsible gambling, amongst other issues, with the headline figure being a 29.9% increase in customer interactions related to responsible gambling in 2020. There was also an 84% increase in the number of customers setting time/spend limits by using safer gaming tools.
Gambling and Football Documentary
Earlier in the week, we were alerted to a Channel 4 documentary where the former leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, will investigate the link between gambling and football.
Set to air later in 2021, ‘Ruth Davidson Tackles Gambling and Football’ will look at the issue of advertising in football and whether enough is being done by government to fight gambling addiction.
Davidson said: “As a lifelong fan that grew up in a football household, I’ve watched as our national game has become saturated by gambling logos. From leagues to broadcasts, shirts to stadiums, gambling firms have infiltrated every nook and cranny of the game and use footy fans to push other products. I wanted to find out what potential harm this has caused – and whether we need a radical rethink to wean football off its gambling addiction.”
It will be interesting to see just how balanced this documentary will be.
Swedish iGaming Market
Finally, the Swedish Government have once again decided to extend the SEK5,000 deposit cap which was introduced last July in a response to the pandemic. The limit will remain in place until 14 November.
Safer Gambling Week
Meanwhile, the Betting and Gaming Council have announced the UK’s Safer Gambling Week will take place between 1-7 November 2021.