UK Gambling Industry News — Weekly Round-up for July 07, 2017

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Jul 7, 2017

Paddy Power Draws Ire Of National Trust

Publicity stunt temporarily defaced 400-year-old Cerne Abbas chalk giant

Paddy Power’s latest publicity stunt, in which the company temporarily defaced the 17th century chalk giant in Dorset, has outraged The National Trust, begging the question – how much is too much?

The Cerne Abbas Giant is a hill figure, and fertility symbol, near the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, England.  It is listed as a scheduled monument in the United Kingdom and the site on which it lies is owned by The National Trust.

The monument is a turf-cut outline filled with chalk depicting a giant naked man wielding a club who historians believe dates back to the 17th century.

Paddy Power, in a bid to gain publicity for the Wimbledon Championship, reportedly “broke onto the site” under cover of night and, using tarpaulins and tent pegs, reshaped the chalk giant’s club to represent a tennis racquet in one hand, and tossing a ball in the other.

According to PRWeek, the stunt was a collaboration between Paddy Power and agency Taylor Herring created to celebrate the start of Wimbledon and Tennis star Andy Murray’s announcement that he and his wife were expecting their second child.

“The Cerne Abbas Giant is protected as both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and as part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest and we are very concerned about any publicity stunt that may in future encourage damage to this fragile site,” the National Trust said.

“It’s our job to look after special places like this so everyone can enjoy them and we know that visitors who come here every year have a huge emotional connection with this special place.

“The site is protected as important chalk grassland for its wild flowers and the butterflies and wildlife that it supports and is easily damaged.”

Paddy Power’s response to PRWeek? “We’d rather beg forgiveness, than ask permission,” while handing over GBP 5,000 “as a gesture of goodwill” to The National Trust.

Opinium Research Offers Key Takeaways

First in a new series of research reports

The first in a series of new research reports from strategic insight agency, Opinium, provides interesting insights into the changing face of the UK gambler.

Retention, cross-selling and building brand loyalty are the key challenges facing operators in the UK, Opinium reports in its new paper “Gaming’s not so quiet revolution: the changing face of the UK punter” in which 1,500 people, who gambled at least once a month online, were surveyed.

The report found that:

A good introductory bonus or offer were the most important factor for 42 percent of sportsbook customers when signing up to a new brand;

25 percent said best odds were the most important factor;

33 percent of those gambling online once a month exclusively play sportsbook, 11 percent play bingo exclusively and 8 percent play casino exclusively;

The gender-split between casino-only players is closer than many think, the reports says, with 57 percent of users male and 43 percent female;

UK gamblers are more likely to come from the 35-54 age bracket (43 percent of the Opinium sample versus 34 percent of total UK population) than the 18-34 bracket (30 percent Opinium sample, 29 percent UK population);

Casino players are the most proliferate when it comes to brand loyalty, with 49 percent switching from their most commonly used brand, versus just 27 percent of bingo players.

Steve Looney, Research Director at Opinium, said:

“An understanding of the customer is absolutely critical to success in a market as competitive as the UK, and we are proud to publish this insightful report giving the industry a glimpse of exactly what the modern gambler looks like.

“This has been an extensive study utilising a robust methodology, and we hope the results inform both operators and suppliers to make better, more customer-centric decisions.”

The full report can be accessed here:

Opinium will publish further reports focusing on sportsbook, casino and bingo verticals in the coming months.

F.O.B.T. Review Will Not Be Published Until October

Department for Culture Media and Sport has not yet completed its triennial review of the industry

The Guardian newspaper reports that Tracey Crouch, the British government minister responsible for the Department for Culture Media and Sport (under which the UK gambling industry falls) has informed parliament that the review findings on the controversial Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) will not be released until “October at the earliest.”

Crouch explained that the DCMS is currently conducting its triennial review of the UK gambling industry, and that the FOBT issue forms part of that project.

Media and political pressure for a reduction in the current GBP 100 maximum stake on the popular machines has been unrelenting over the past two or more years, with some calls for the maximum stake to be reduced to just GBP 2 (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Other proposals are that the number of FOBT’s per betting shop should be reduced, and that marketing restrictions be imposed.

The recent UK general election has contributed to delays on the review, Crouch pointed out, noting that a mandatory 12-week stand-still period following the election requires compliance and had interrupted the process. She maintained that government must “ensure that we have a proper evidence-based response to the issue of stakes and prizes.”

The FOBT issue is a prickly problem in which government will be under public pressure, but will no doubt remain cognisant that the Treasury reaps over GBP 400 million a year in tax revenues from the companies operating these machines.

UK Gambling Commission Launch New Enforcement Strategy

Latest in a line of consultations addresses operators who breach gambling regulations

The UK Gambling Commission has implemented changes to its enforcement strategy, effective today (Wednesday, July 5), targeting operators who breach gambling regulations.

The ‘Consumer First’ changes to the enforcement policy include:

The introduction of higher financial penalties for breaches, particularly for systemic and repeated failings.

Putting all regulatory tools, including licence review (both of the operator and personal management licences), on an equal footing by removing the current bias in favour of settlement.

Using time-limited discounts to create better incentives for early settlement.

“We will use the full range of enforcement powers to ensure operators put customers first and raise standards,” Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission said.

“The industry can be assured that we will use our powers in a targeted way, and consumers and the public can be assured we will take robust and effective action when gambling companies don’t meet their obligations.”

More on the Gambling Commission’s responses to its enforcement strategy consultation at:

ASA Rules TV Ad Breaches BCAP Code

On two issues relating to over-emphasis of strategy and portraying gambling in the context of “toughness”

A TV ad for, owned by Intellectual Property & Software Ltd (IPS), has been investigated by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a complainant felt that the ad “referenced a psychological thrill experienced by gambling addicts”, challenging whether it was socially irresponsible.

The advertisement, flighted in March 2017, showed a man in a tuxedo seated at a blackjack table, as a voice-over said: “His heart is pounding. His body is still. He shuffles his chips as he thinks. Heart versus head. Emotion versus reason. He makes his move. He makes his own luck.”

In addition to the complaint, the ASA also challenged whether the claim “He makes his own luck” implied that gambling involved skill rather than chance.

Ultimately the ASA dismissed one and upheld two issues relating to breaches of the BCAP Code rule 17.3.8  (Gambling) and ordered the ad may not appear again in its current form.

The ASA told IPS to ensure in future that their advertising did not over-emphasise the role of strategy and did not portray gambling in a context of toughness.

W.S.O.P. Online United Kingdom To Close

Sudden and poorly communicated decision results in an immediate halt to operations and a warning to players to withdraw balances before July 20 closure

Cassava Enterprises-888 – the companies behind the popular, 1,500 player WSOP Online UK website has informed players that the site will close on July 20 in a warning to withdraw their balances.

The company has not seen fit to explain its decision to shutter what is a well-established site on the 888Poker network carrying the WSOP brand into the UK market, and in fact have reportedly ceased gaming activity with effect from July 3.

Company service representatives have confirmed the closure, but had apparently not been briefed on the reasons behind it.

The UK closure does not affect WSOP branded activity in the United States.

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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