UK Gambling Industry in the News — Weekly Round-up for March 1, 2019

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Mar 1, 2019

Davies Plans To Outlaw Sales Of Scratch Cards To Under 18’s

Government needs to step in

In an exclusive interview with the UK Parliament’s magazine – The House, Mims Davies, Minister for Sports and Civil Society of the DCMS, said she plans to outlaw the sale of National Lottery scratch cards to under 18s.

According to recent UK Gambling statistics, over 15 percent of 11 to 16 year olds said they had purchased National Lottery scratch cards at least once a week or more.

“We need to be very clear that gambling starts at 18… It’s not to stop people from having fun, but it’s also to protect those most vulnerable people. That’s where the Government needs to step in.”

Senet Group Weighs In On UKGC Responsible Gambling Strategy

Calls for “clearly articulated goals”

The UK responsible gambling body Senet Group has published its response to the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) consultation on the new National Responsible Gambling Strategy.

The three-year strategy, in force from April 2019, will focus on reducing gambling harms and requires the collective effort of a wide range of stakeholders, in particular gambling operators and those at the forefront of customer engagement, Senet Group said.

While Senet welcomed the proposed reduction in the the number of strategic priority areas from twelve to five, it called on the UKGC to clearly articulate its goals with the insertion of an additional stage to clarify and identify the desired outcomes associated with the key strategic themes.

Gillian Wilmot, Chairman of the Senet Group:

“Elements of the gambling industry have contributed to an environment of mistrust and frustration in recent years, and delivery against the Commission’s objectives in the last three year strategy has not been sufficiently coordinated.

“However, operators are now making unprecedented efforts to reduce harms, and it’s critical that the customer insight and interaction they bring is put to good use in ensuring that harm reduction solutions have the operational context necessary to succeed and be implemented speedily.”

Read Senet Group’s full submission here:

UK Gambling Commission Release Latest Participation Stats

Gambling participation in 2018: behaviour, awareness and attitudes

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released its annual report on gambling participation in 2018 covering awareness, behaviour and attitudes.

The datasets were gathered by Populus via a combination of telephone and online surveys with people aged 16 and over.

Key findings from respondents referring to the past four week period at the time of the survey include:

  • Gambling participation was up 1 percent to 46 percent of respondents who participated in any form of gambling.
  • Excluding the National Lottery, 32 percent had participated, again up one percent compared to December 2017.
  • Online gambling was flat with 18 percent of respondents having gambled online.
  • 55 percent of online gamblers did so utilising a mobile phone or tablet.
  • 23 percent of online gamblers had bet in-play.
  • 1.5 percent had played on FOBT machines in a retail bookmaker (2017: 1.4 percent).
  • 0.7 percent of the sample were classified as problem gamblers, 1.1 percent as moderate-risk gamblers and 2.4 percent as low-risk gamblers.
  • 6 percent of the sample had ever self-excluded.
  • Only 30 percent perceived gambling as fair and felt they could trust the industry, while 38 percent believe gambling is associated with crime.

Read the full report here:

UK Labour Party To Call For Overhaul Of Gambling Act

Pushing for stricter online gambling limits

The United Kingdom’s Labour Party will reportedly propose policy that will impose strict online gambling limits and affordability checks under a new online gambling category within the 2005 Gambling Act, The Guardian and reports.

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party and the Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is leading the call for a “radical rethink of gambling laws” ahead of his speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London later today.

“Whereas gambling in the offline world is highly regulated, the lack of controls on online gambling is leading to vulnerable consumers suffering huge losses,” Watson said.

“We need to see a culture of limits introduced to internet gambling: a system of thresholds placed on the spend, stake and speed… that will give safeguards to consumers.”

In addition to online gambling, Watson intends launching a consultation on the link between online video games and gambling, specifically loot boxes.

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), in response, said: “We fully embrace the need to move faster to tackle problem gambling through effective regulation based on innovation, evidence and customer data and we are committed to working with the government and opposition to achieve that goal.”

“We support moves towards affordability and targeted intervention to ensure that those at risk of harm are identified without restricting or penalising those who enjoy their play and gamble responsibly. Online operators continually monitor patterns of play making thousands of interventions each month to prevent harm occurring and we will input fully to this responsible gambling policy process.

“The online environment has the huge advantage of providing a complete overview of player spending patterns and behaviours, using this information can prove to be a more effective and more sophisticated way to tackle problem gambling and thereby avoid arbitrary limits that risk driving customers to the unregulated and illegal gambling market.”

The UK Gambling Commission’s recently released ‘Gambling Participation in 2018: behaviour, awareness and attitudes’ survey reported a 1 percent rise in gambling participation compared to December 2017 (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Senet Group Release Research Report On Gambling Behaviour

In the context of personal control

The UK gambling sector’s responsible gambling association Senet Group has published a qualitative independent research report examining gambling behaviours in the context of personal control.

The research, conducted by independent agency Revealing Reality, sets out the elements required for a behaviour change approach to tackling problem gambling, where an understanding of why and how people behave as they do can help to identify opportunities to influence and change behaviour for the better.

The research reveals that regardless of their risk profile, all gamblers want to stay in control and that this control is critical to their enjoyment of gambling.

“As a result, people set boundaries to their gambling which they look to maintain through a variety of formal and informal management strategies.”

The report surmises that the challenge for gambling operators is to help and support gamblers in setting and adhering to those boundaries, by both reinforcing their motivation to stay in control but also by providing the tools to make it easier.

Commenting on the research, Gillian Wilmot, Chairman of the Senet Group, said:

“This research report provides some practical insights into how people manage their gambling on a day to day basis, and how the gambling industry might support their enjoyment of gambling by helping them stay in control.”

“The gambling industry can do a great deal more to develop and promote tools and techniques which assist gamblers in understanding the positive benefits of control, but more importantly how they can keep track of their gambling, whether that’s through the amount they are spending or the time they devote to playing.”

The research findings will be used to inform the next generation of Senet’s player messaging campaign, ‘When the Fun Stops, Stop’ which, according to the research, has reached around 82 percent of regular gamblers since its launch.

Damon De Ionno, Managing Director of Revealing Reality, added:

“This research provides a clear summary and examples of many ways that operators can actively help their customers stay in control of their gambling – and make sure they don’t undermine their attempts to do so.”

The ‘In Control’ research report employed a combination of ethnographic interviews and shadowed observation of 25 participants, selected by PGSI scores to be representative of the low, medium and high-risk gambling categories.

The sample was recruited to reflect a variety of demographic backgrounds, including a spread of age, gender, ethnicity and employment status.

Read the full report findings here:

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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