UK Gambling Industry in the News — Weekly Round-up for November 23, 2018

Van Der Gaag To Serve As Responsible Gambling Chair

At UK Gambling Commission

Dr Anna van der Gaag has been appointed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) as Chair of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB).

The RGSB comprises a team of advisors tackling the research, education and treatment required to reduce gambling-related harms.

van der Gaag succeeds Sir Christopher Kelly with immediate effect as Kelly’s term winds to an end in March 2019.

As a Visiting Professor of Ethics and Regulation at the University of Surrey, van der Gaag has held regulatory roles in the health, social care and legal sectors. She has a particular interest in how regulators can be proactive in the prevention of harm.

Bill Moyes, Gambling Commission Chair said:

“It is with pleasure that we announce Dr Anna van der Gaag as the new Chair of RGSB. She brings with her a wealth of experience in health, social care and the prevention of harm that will be an asset in advising on how to implement the next National Strategy, which will launch in April 2019 and on which we will shortly be consulting.”

Formerly Chair of the Health and Care Professions Council, van der Gaag is a non-executive director at Health Education England and the Kent Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Science Network and a founding member of the Q Community, a quality improvement network led by the Health Foundation. She was awarded the CBE for services to health and care in 2015.

“Gambling-related harms are increasingly recognised as a public health issue requiring robust collective action,” van der Gaag added. “I am thrilled by this opportunity to join a team with such a passionate commitment to understanding and reducing harms and raising awareness of the personal and societal costs that can arise from gambling activities.”

UKGC To Invite Bids For National Lottery License

Camelot contract ends 2023

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reportedly established an advisory group that will manage a transparent, tender process for the lucrative National Lottery license in 2019.

Camelot, owned by Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has held the concession since the National Lottery’s inception in 1994, enjoying three consecutive license terms, the last of which ends in 2023.

The advisory group will be seeking best ideas, innovations and experiences, along with a focus on maximising returns to good causes, Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UKGC, said last week in the run up to the World Lottery Summit in Buenos Aires.

McArthur wants to see new technology that has the potential to change the way British people, and in particular problem gamblers, play the lottery.

“In a world where 24-hour communication and technology continues to change at an increasingly fast pace, innovation and creativity will play a key part in making sure the National Lottery remains relevant in the future.”

The advisory group is led by Paul Grout, an economics professor and adviser to the Bank of England who along with others will collectively guide the UKGC in terms of changes in consumer behaviour and advances in digital platforms. These findings will shape a consultation concerning the 4th lottery concession in February 2019 with the bid process expected to launch in the third quarter of 2019.

In related news, Camelot UK is upping its game following a wide-ranging strategic review in 2017 triggered by criticism from both punters and parliamentarians.

The company announced sweeping changes to its offer Monday which include the discontinuation of select games, the introduction of new rules and the addition of new prizes and new draws.

“Changes to Lotto, Millionaire Raffle and Euromillions will mean more winners and bigger prizes and the jackpot will be won more often,” the National Lottery website promises.

Industry Giants Move To Voluntarily Curb Gambling Advertising

Discussions hosted by Remote Gambling Association

According to a Sky News report, the Remote Gambling Association will be hosting critical talks this week between gambling industry giants who are proposing to voluntarily curb betting and gambling advertising in response to political leaders pushing for a crackdown.

UK operators Betfred, William Hill and Ladbrokes are among those discussing proposals which the Sky News report says may include a ban on ‘in-play’ advertising during live football matches.

Sky News revealed the meeting’s agenda contains the most “rigorous set of measures to restrict television advertising ever considered by the gaming industry.”

Other restrictions up for discussion apparently include a complete ban on pre-watershed advertising and gaming adverts restricted to one per commercial break.

Sky itself has implemented a maximum of one gambling advertisement per commercial break effective from the second quarter in 2019.

Stronger Protection Of Minors Urged By UK Gambling Commission

Commission publishes new report on children and gambling trends

A new report on gambling published Thursday has prompted the UK Gambling Commission to urge parents and the industry to strengthen the protection of minors.

The 2018 Young People and Gambling report reveals that gambling participation by 11 to 16 year olds has increased in the past 12 months but remains lower compared to all previous years.

Nevertheless, the research indicated that more children are at risk of being harmed by gambling, necessitating the call for more protection.

The most common gambling activities that attract minors were identified by the research, which noted that these are frequently outside the scope and control of direct Commission regulation.

In this regard it points to bets between friends, lottery scratch cards purchased by parents and playing fruit machines in pubs, and recommends a more proactive and collaborative approach than is presently the case.

Despite wide media publicity on the dangers to young people of gambling, researchers found that only 19 percent of children felt that their parents had imposed strict anti-gambling rules at home..

Tim Miller, executive director at the Gambling Commission, said: “Protecting children from the harms that can come from gambling remains one of our highest priorities. In the areas we have regulatory control, we continue to strengthen the protections in place to prevent underage gambling, such as our recent proposals for enhanced age verifications checks for online gambling.

“But regulation alone cannot address all of the risks that young people may face from gambling. Our latest research shows that the most common forms of gambling by children do not happen in gambling premises. Some of these are legal, such as bets between friends; some of these are unlawful, such as gambling on machines in pubs. But all of them present risks to young people as there is no form of gambling that is risk-free. It is therefore vital that all those with a part to play in protecting children and young people – parents, businesses and regulators – work together.”

Last week, the Commission called on the pubs industry to take urgent action following serious failures to stop children playing on age restricted 18+ gaming machines. In September 17 global gambling regulators teamed up with the Commission to work together to address the risks created by the blurring of lines between video games, social gaming and gambling.

The Commission is also currently consulting on strengthening age verification processes.

Key findings of the new report included:

  • 14% of 11-16 year olds had spent their own money on gambling in the past week, this is up from 12% in 2017 but is still lower than rates seen prior to 2017;
  • The principal forms of gambling in the past week were placing a private bet for money with friends (6%), National Lottery scratchcards (4%), fruit/slot machines
    (3%) and playing cards for money with friends (3%);
  • Young people who have gambled in the past week spent an average of GBP 16 on gambling during this period;
  • Over the past 12 months, 39% of 11-16 year olds have spent their own money on gambling;
  • 6% have gambled online using a parent or guardian’s account;
  • 31% have ever opened loot boxes in a computer game or app, to try to acquire in-game items, while 3% claim to have ever bet with in-game items (so called
    ‘skins’ gambling);
  • 59% agree that gambling is dangerous and only 14% agree that it is acceptable for someone their age to gamble;
  • Around half (49%) of respondents said that someone had spoken to them about the problems that gambling can lead to, with the conversation typically taking
    place with a parent (40%) or teacher (21%);.
  • 60% of young people think their parents would prefer them not to gamble at all, however only 19% stated that their parents set strict rules about gambling with
    no negotiation;
  • 1.7% of 11-16 year olds are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers, 2.2% as ‘at risk’.

Camelot Lottery Sales Up In Fiscal H1

Total sales rise 5.4 percent, with digital doing especially well

H1 figures for the fiscal year to end September have been released by Camelot UK Lotteries, operator of the National UK Lottery, showing that sales rose 5.4 percent to GBP 3.5 billion in the reporting period.

Growth was recorded across all product verticals, with digital doing particularly well, setting a new sales record of GBP 831.4 million driven by a broader range of online games, as well as the launch of an Android app. The new app contributed to mobile sales increasing to GBP 431.6 million, with the channel now accounting for the majority of digital sales.

Retail sales grew to GBP 2.6 billion, with retailer partners earnings GBP 147.2 million in commission over the six month period. Scratchards and online instant win games performed strongly, with sales up 10 percent year-on-year to GBP 1.5 billion.

“Thanks to the work we’ve been carrying out following our comprehensive review of the business, we’ve made a very positive start to the financial year across the board,” Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton said.

“We’ll continue to make improvements across our retail and digital channels, and build on the good headway we’ve made to date in making The National Lottery brand more relevant and visible. On top of that, we’ve got some great plans for the second half of the year to ensure that we’re offering a more balanced and appealing range of games that offers something for everyone – starting with exciting changes to Lotto next week to give our players a better winning experience.”

Camelot paid out GBP 2 billion in prizes, creating 196 new millionaires, and generated GBP 793.2 million for good causes.