The UK Gambling Industry in the News — Weekly Round-up for November 10, 2017

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Nov 13, 2017

Online Constituted 33 Percent Of All UK Gambling Last Year

Gambling Commission numbers show that overall gambling in the UK increased by 161 percent over the last ten years

UK Gambling Commission figures just released make for interesting reading:

* Overall gross gambling yield over the last decade has grown 161 percent and is now GBP 13.44 billion annually (as at 2016);

* Online action accounts for 33 percent of all UK gambling;

* There are 34,000 Fixed Odds Betting Machines in retail betting shops across the nation, generating GGR of GBP1.8 billion between October 2015 and September 2016, or 13 percent of all gambling industry revenue;

* Last year there were 8,788 retail betting shops operating in the UK, along with 583 bingo halls;

* Last year, the UK gambling industry as a whole employed 106,678 people.

Questions Around Accuracy Of Problem Gambling Numbers In The UK

Bookies’ trade association says levels of problem gambling have not increased, but how accurate are the Gambling Commission figures?

With the debate around the acceptability of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals raging this week following the release of the government’s gambling review (see previous InfoPowa reports), broadcaster BBC published an article based on a claim by the Association of British Bookmakers that since the introduction of the machines 15 years ago, problem gambling statistics from the Gambling Commission have shown no upward movement.

The CEO of the trade association, Malcolm George, based his claim on Gambling Commission figures that indicate that the rate of problem gambling across UK gambling has moved from 0.06 percent in 1999 to somewhere between 0.6 and 0.08 percent in 2015.

Anti-gambling activists however claim that the figures are questionable because they are not accurately comparable; the questions on which the numbers were based are similar, but the methodologies used to make the assessment differ.

The 1999 figure is based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) methodology, and the marginally higher percentage recorded in 2015 was arrived at using the same yardstick but a different collection system. The Problem Gambling Severity index was also used.

On the face of it the differences over a 15 year period appear minute, ranging between 0,06 percent and 0,08 percent, but technically that is an increase, activists suggest.

Interestingly, the BBC report also mentions a NatCen study which looked at the lowest levels of problem gambling across the various verticals, finding that a flutter on the National Lottery presented the lowest risk of problem gambling developing at just 1.3 percent.

Conversely, the highest percentages of problem gambling risk were associated with:

Spread betting 20.1 percent
Betting exchanges 16.2 percent
Playing poker in pubs or clubs 15.9 percent
Betting on events with a bookmaker (not online) 15.5 percent
Playing machines in bookmakers (FOBTs) 11.5 percent.

The always voluble, anti-gambling deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, claimed in the BBC piece that gambling addiction costs the economy GBP 1.2 billion a year, but the article points out that this figure is arguable and top of the range from an IPPR think tank that estimated the cost at somewhere between GBP 260 million and GBP 1.2 million a year.

That’s a pretty wide spread, and the report from the IPPR casts further doubt with its warning: “Due to limitations in the available data, these findings should not be taken as the excess fiscal cost caused by problem gambling.”

Read the full story here:

Ladbrokes Coral Receive Stiff Penalty For Responsible Gambling Failings (Update)

Acknowledges liability. Penalty package includes donation to responsible gambling research

A Ladbrokes Coral statement released Monday detailed penalties amounting to around GBP 2.3 million following customer protection failures identified by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

The investigation, which focused on Gala Interactive (Gibraltar) Limited operations prior to the merger of the Ladbrokes and Coral businesses in 2016, has led to Ladbrokes Coral acknowledging failures in its social responsibility standards and procedures.

The penalty package will see Gala Coral refund money made in relation to the two customers who gambled with the company to the tune of around GBP 1.3 million using stolen money.

In addition, the firm will make a GBP 1.2 million contribution to fund research into the causes and identification of problem gambling, GBP 200,000 of which is a voluntary top-up to the penalty amount.

Jim Mullen, Ladbrokes Coral Group Chief Executive commented:

“Running a gambling company carries a huge responsibility to ensure that it is done so in a safe and responsible manner. When any part of our business fails to meet the required standards, it is right that they are held to account. The sector has an obligation to look to help customers help themselves and to seek to protect the vulnerable where self-help is evidently not going to happen.

“In the two cases reviewed with the Commission, it was clear that within our operations, we had not met our own standards or those demanded by the Commission. While we will always be exposed to risk of people failing to follow procedures, we accept that, in this case, the failings were evidence of a lack of priority being given to changes in approach identified in earlier engagements.

“Being public with our failings is an uncomfortable experience for any business, but we believe it is right that others can see the extent of our mistakes and try to learn from them. The Ladbrokes Coral business has moved on since these cases occurred and the mind-set of the Board and the management is that there can be no short cuts on delivering our social responsibility and anti-money laundering obligations.

Mullen goes on to say the company will genuinely put responsible gambling at the heart of the business as it moves forward from the debacle.

“With a business of this size and scale we will always be at risk of inadvertently failing to follow the right procedures. That is why we must continue to invest in the technology, people and research and education to help achieve the highest standards of social responsibility.

“We support the drive for higher standards and will continue to work with the Commission to raise the bar across the sector.”

Veiled Warning On Tax Increases From Skybet Chief

Hiking the 15 percent point-of-consumption gambling tax could have serious consequences, says Flint

In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper Tuesday SkyBet chief Richard Flint urged UK Chancellor Philip Hammond not to raise gambling-related taxes in the forthcoming Budget, claiming such a move could stifle his company’s domestic investment plans.

Flint noted that his company’s plans this year include the creation of 200 high-tech jobs at its Yorkshire site to add to the 1,300 people it already employs there, and he revealed that he has written to the Chancellor warning that any increase in the 15 percent p.o.c. tax could have consequences.

“We are prepared to have the penalty [of higher taxes] versus being based offshore but it could become unsustainable if taxes are increased too much,” he said.

SkyBet paid GBP 153 million in taxes in the year to June 30 – equivalent to 30 percent of its revenue.

Flint pointed out that because SkyBet is UK-based, it also pays VAT on its considerable marketing expenditure, a financial disadvantage that does not impact offshore-based operators.

Sky Betting & Gaming posted a 38 percent rise in revenue to GBP 516 million and EBITDA up 38 percent at GBP 146 million in its most recent annual results.

The company launched in Italy during the period in its first overseas expansion, and this month launched in Germany. The betting company is 80 percent owned by private equity group CVC Capital Partners.

New Microgaming HQ Makes UK’s 10 Coolest Offices Of 2017

List features some of the biggest consumer brands

Microgaming’s new Isle of Man headquarters have been listed in Adzuna’s ‘The 10 coolest offices of 2017‘ in the UK alongside some of the biggest consumer brands Deliveroo, Superdrug and Talk Talk.

The five-story office building, which opened its doors in July 2017, features a unique sky bridge that joins the new and existing offices, creating a campus for the company.

The new building boasts unique and creative design features around every corner, down to the smallest detail.

Employees can choose between hot desks, standing desks, work booths and break-out areas on each floor.

Staff are encouraged to take time out away from their desks, enticed by the fourth floor communal area featuring a table tennis table, pool table, poker table, dart board and a library or a fully equipped in-house gym and treatment room. Staff can refuel at the canteen and coffee shop offering an exclusive Microgaming coffee blend.

“We have been enjoying the new building and its facilities for a little over three months now and feedback from staff has been incredibly positive,” Roger Raatgever, CEO of Microgaming, said. “Our presence on the Isle of Man continues to grow with over 120 staff at Sixty Two and nine vacancies currently listed on our website.”

In addition, a rooftop garden offers stunning panoramic views of the island, which can also be enjoyed via a periscope in the reception area.

Microgaming’s office has been designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible and has achieved a BREEAM rating of Excellent.

Pics of the new office space can be accessed 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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