UK Gambling Industry — Weekly Round-up for September 21, 2018

Gamstop Appoints Head For The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme

Jenny Watson is former chair of the UK Electoral Commission

Gamstop, the joint Gambling Commission and Remote Gaming Association initiative to introduce a UK-wide self-exclusion scheme for troubled online gamblers took another step forward this week with the appointment of Jenny Watson as head of the National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme.

Watson has an impressive c.v. that includes management experience as head of the UK Electoral Commission.

The full implementation of the Gamstop initiative has been bedevilled by delays since it was unveiled in June last year with a launch date scheduled for end 2017 (see previous InfoPowa reports).Teething problems appeared to hold that development up, with the target date being revised to Spring 2018.

Gamstop operational head Katie Reynolds-Jones says a soft launch actually began in April this year and has achieved a “significant” response, although she was not in a position to release statistical details. She has revealed that the full formal launch is still on for this year, when the focus will be on raising awareness of the scheme amongst consumers.

In the meantime Watson has revealed that her immediate priority is to bring on additional independent board members and commence an initial evaluation of the self-exclusion scheme based on the first six months of operations.

As recently as May this year the Gambling Commission wrote to the RGA expressing concern regarding the effectiveness of the Gamstop scheme, with executive director Tim Miller noting that he had yet to see proper evidence of the system’s full capability.

Miller was also concerned that Gamstop apparently did not synchronise its list of registered users with companies’ promotional mailing lists in order to ensure that self-exclused gamblers did not receive promotional material.

At the time a spokesperson for GamStop, which is funded by online gambling companies, said the system was still being fine-tuned and would be reviewed to see whether user details could be safely linked to marketing lists without compromising personal data.

The basic concept of the scheme remains a system that enables UK consumers to exclude themselves via a single website process from all online gambling operators that are licensed by the Gambling Commission.

Second A.S.A. Warning For Mobile Betting Operator

Kwiff criticised for buzzy advert

Mobile betting operator Kwiff, owned by Easton Gate Gaming, has been criticised by the UK Advertising Standards Authority following a complaint that its advertising condones or encourages gambling in an irresponsible fashion.

The material in question featured a number of customers aged 25 and over who offered Kwiff testimonials that suggested the services offered were “quite a buzz” and “exciting”.

The ASA seized particularly on the word buzz, finding that it is “commonly associated with the experience of problem gambling,” and warned Kwiff not to publish the material again, or any of a similar nature.

Kwiff’s previous encounter with the ASA involved a promo featuring odds that where not in fact offered by the operator (see previous InfoPowa report).

UK Politician Calls For Bans On Advertising, Credit Cards And Sponsorship In Gambling

Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson sounds off on gambling again

Virulently anti-gambling politician and UK Labour Party deputy leader, Tom Watson has managed to grab the media spotlight again this week with a rant against gambling, calling for a “whistle to whistle” ban on gambling advertising during live sporting events; a threat to stop the use of credit cards in gambling if Labour returns to national government; and a call for Premier League football clubs to halt gambling sponsorship deals or have it done for them, should a Labour government come to power.

Watson described problem gambling in the UK as a “national emergency” and suggested that gambling operators be forced to pay an additional 1 percent of GGR levy for the treatment of such persons.

“Current gambling regulation is not up to the job of protecting addicts and those at risk of addiction,” Watson claimed. “Gambling companies have to take more responsibility for harm caused by their products and contribute more to research and treatment.

The other side of the House was unimpressed, with Conservative Party vice chairman for policy, Chris Skidmore, commenting:

“Labour liberalised the gambling market when they were in power, and have admitted that they were wrong.

“We are correcting Labour’s mistakes – ensuring tighter rules on gambling advertising, increasing protections around online gambling, launching a multi-million pound awareness campaign, commissioning research on the harms of problem gambling, and slashing the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, which were introduced under Labour.”

SkyBet boss Richard Flint welcomed the idea of a levy, but said banning advertising and credit card payments would not work.