Advisory Board on Safer Gambling Calls for Statutory Levy
The Advisory Board on Safer Gambling said it is “disappointed” that a mandatory levy on bookmakers has not been introduced. It called the current voluntary system “unsustainable”.
Independent expert advisory board ABSG has warned that progress on delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms would be limited without the introduction of a mandatory levy on gambling companies. It stated that the current funding model of voluntary funding was unsustainable, and introducing compulsory fees would accelerate the delivery of objectives related to the strategy.
While the ABSG is critical of the current funding regime in place with the UKGC, they did pay credit to the Betting and Gaming Council’s £100m funding pledge to GambleAware. The charity will receive the funds over five years in the areas of research, education and treatment of problem gamblers. However, not everyone is happy with the surprise injection of cash with some stating this donation proves the industry has too much influence on how funds are spent.
In a statement, the ABSG said:
Concerns continue about independence, predictability and the quantum of funding, and in the absence of a levy, there are significant limitations on the scale of action that can be taken.– ABSG, statement.
In February this year, the Advisory Board on Safer Gambling set out its recommendations that it believed the Gambling Commission should consider for making online gambling safer. These suggestions are over six main categories; transparency and evaluation, detection of harms, effective interventions, game design and product characteristics, stake, prize and speed of play limits and marketing and advertising.
In the summary of key recommendation the Board suggest; Transparency and evaluation – The UK Gambling Commission should make all operator assurance statements public documents with formal feedback that the operator receives being included in these records. The ABSG suggest setting up a data repository and an update of the evaluation protocol. A move the Board state will ensure a more comprehensive evaluation of what works.
Detection of harms – Operators will be required to be more transparent about the approach they take to detect harm with their customers. ABSG state that there should be Increasing focus and resources on establishing what is best practice. They also state minimum standards should be introduced, based on the best practice guidelines.
Effective interventions – The ABSG’s suggestions recommend that the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy is used to provide leadership and structure for the piloting and evaluation of a wider range of strong harm prevention interventions. The ABSG also states that the Gambling Commission should consider how it can be assured that operators have robust measures in place from when a customer returns from self-exclusion. The Board also stated that dialogue should take place with the UK Government to explore granting IP blocking powers to disrupt illegal online gambling further.
Game design and product characteristics – Regulators, need to improve their understanding of product and game characteristics and their links to harm. The regulator should also use enforcement measures to increase operators’ duty of care for their consumers. A recommendation in the report that credit cards should be banned when online gambling has already been adopted, this came into effect in April this year.
Stake, prize and speed of play limits – They suggest a regime of stake, prize and rate of play limits to be introduced. If these are not voluntarily brought in by the operators, the UK government should intervene and bring in regulation to enforce them.
Marketing and advertising – The ABSG recommend exploring technological solutions that would reduce exposure for children and vulnerable people. They suggest using ad-tech software that could potentially block advertisements to certain customers.
The Gambling Commission announced last week that they are working with an interim Experts by Experience Group. The Commission state that by listing to the advice of the Group, it will inform decision making and improve industry standards.