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Industry collaboration makes progress on safer gambling

A collaboration between the Gambling Commission and the gambling industry has lead to progress after three challenges were set out by the Gambling Commission to make gambling safer and reduce harm across the sector:

  • Under 25s to be restricted from joining VIP schemes
  • Tightened controls to be introduced for other VIP customers
  • Online advertising rules strengthened to better protect vulnerable groups
  • Progress made on safer product design but industry must go further.

The work has led to restrictions and has prevented under 25s being recruited into VIP schemes. There is also a reduction on intensity of play such as the speed of spin and removing turbo buttons, and a joint effort to shield children and young people from online gambling advertising.

The Gambling Commission welcomes the recommendations made by the industry on safer products but has challenged the industry to go further.

The new approach to speed up progress on protecting consumers was set by the Commission’s chief executive, Neil McArthur in October 2019. Working groups made up of senior leaders from the industry were formed in January 2020 and concentrated on the use of VIP incentives, safer advertising online and the use of safer product design.

The Industry working groups featured over 30 operators co-ordinated by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). As part of this work, the Commission ran workshops with people who had first-hand experience of gambling harm, as well as collaborating with GamCare to ensure that its service users’ experience would also help inform any outcomes.

Those involved will continue to develop and implement the proposals, with some measures around VIP customers being implemented as soon as April 14 2020.

The Commission has launched formal consultations on these areas to ensure that the new measures are incorporated into its regulatory framework – which means that all operators will have to abide by the new consumer protection rules.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive said: “We have been encouraged by the progress on VIP incentives, safer advertising and safer products. We set these challenges in order to deliver real and rapid change for consumers in key areas of risk. However, it is important these commitments are implemented as soon as possible. It should not take months to implement safeguards many would expect to be in place already.

“By working together with operators and seeking the views of people with lived experience of gambling harm we have been able to make significant progress, although there is always more to do. We will now consult on the necessary changes to our rule book to ensure all operators have to meet the new standards.

“Whilst we are encouraged by industry proposals for making gambling products safer we now call on operators to implement those proposals rapidly; but the proposals do not go far enough and we will now consider what additional measures we should impose on operators.

“I recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak will impact on next steps and actions, in particular land-based operators. I welcome the fact that the operators involved and the BGC have remained committed to progressing this work during these difficult times. That is a positive sign of their commitment to make the industry safer.”

“Ultimately actions speak louder than words and any operator that does not put consumer safety first will find itself a target for enforcement action.”

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