Industry report finds betting shop staff not equipped to spot problem gamblers
A damning report written by research group Revealing Reality and commissioned by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) has found that betting shop staff are not trained to spot or assist problem gamblers that visit their shop.
Even more worrying were the report’s findings that some staff were even encouraging customers to bet and lose more, by sharing unprofitable strategies or encouraging the customers to try and chase losses. Furthermore, the report highlighted that although shops display responsible gambling messages, they are often out-of-sight from customers.
While the report did not go so far to say that staff are deliberately misleading customers, it highlighted the distinct lack of training around problem gambling that the staff receive, that can result in them offering suggestions likely to exacerbate a problem.
Deputy Leader of the Labour party, Tom Watson, who last month pledged to impose a levy on gambling firms and ban them from sponsoring football clubs, reacted with shock to the findings and further piled pressure on the industry. Watson said:
This shocking report is a litany of poor practice from an industry that is out of control. Instead of trying to help problem gamblers, and encourage responsible gambling, too often gambling firms and their staff are facilitating irresponsible behaviour.– Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party
A wake up call for the industry?
It has been a turbulent time for betting firms as they have come under ever increasing pressure from watchdogs, regulators, and political parties. In September, the UK Gambling Commission issued a report into problem gambling among students, while the Labour party pledged to tackle problem gambling and ban betting firms from sponsoring football club.
The industry has at least outwardly voiced concern over the issue and problem gambling charity Gamble Aware also issued a report suggesting improved methodology to identify and protect problem gamblers. The speed at which these new standards are implemented may be hastened after the findings of this report.
Speaking about the IGRG’s report, Marc Etches, chief executive of Gamble Aware, said:
It’s a clear wake-up call to the gambling industry. Frankly, all sectors need to do more to ensure staff and customers know when, how and where to seek help.– Marc Etches, chief executive of Gamble Aware