business meeting

UK Betting Firms Pledge Safety Commitments

It’s only been a few weeks since a group of cross-party MP’s looking into gambling related harm began a campaign to reduce online gambling stakes to a maximum of £2 – to match the regulations imposed on FOBT’s earlier in the year – and already the gambling industry has responded.

10 of the UK’s most well known gambling groups have put together a new commitment to responsible gambling which they pledge to follow, in an attempt to self regulate before the government steps in and imposes their own regulations.

This comes after continuing criticism that the industry does only the bare minimum to get by when it comes to customer safety, and that the risks that some products pose to customers are not taken seriously enough.

The 5 Commitments

Signing DocumentThis new commitment covers five areas, and all of them will be publically reports and monitored independently.

They are:

  1. To prevent underage gambling and protect young people.
  2. To increase support of treatment for gambling harm.
  3. To strengthen and expand codes of practice for advertising and marketing.
  4. To protect and empower our customers.
  5. To promote a culture of safer gambling.

So it’s the usual stuff, then, and it all sounds very vague at the moment, although each item on the list will be discussed in detail and expanded upon in time.

And although the gambling companies themselves have come up with the commitments, the development of just exactly what each one means in real terms will be facilitated through the Senet Group, which is an independent body set up to work alongside the UKGC and raise responsible gambling standards in the sector.

Anything Actionable Yet?

Yes, actually, to their credit.

The first significant step is a 4 year program to educate younger people which will be rolled out nationally by both GamCare and The Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust.

Gamcare Logo

It will raise awareness of the risks that come with gambling and help young people to understand what they are. This will be funded with £10million that will come from the industry itself.

Spokesmen for Bet365, William Hill, and GVC (Ladbrokes Coral), issued a statement saying the commitment represents:

“the most comprehensive set of measures from a wide group of leaders across the sector to support the UK Gambling Commission’s national strategy to reduce gambling harms”

While Peter Jackson, the CEO of Flutter Entertainment (Paddy Power Betfair) commented:

“These commitments are an important step forward for the sector in their own right and also signal a genuine desire to ensure that acting responsibly is at the heart of our businesses.”

The other companies who have so far signed up to the pledge are Sky Betting and Gaming, Genting, Aspers, Caesars, Rank Group, and Playtech.

Interesting Timing

SuspiciousThe fact that this move, as welcome as it is, has come directly after a big push from those in power to further regulate the gambling industry speaks volumes. It also coincides with the launch of the Betting & Gaming Council – the organisation that replaces both the Remote Gambling Association and the Association of British Bookmakers.

The industry is known for reacting to concerns only when it absolutely has to, apart from the odd one or two companies who seem to go the extra mile in this area, but in fairness, the same is true for all industries really.

All big companies are in the business of increasing profits and value for shareholders first and foremost, and the gambling industry is no different.

Self-regulation is obviously more advantageous to the bookmakers than government imposed rules and regs, but either will make things safer for the customer and crucially, for young people, so however it comes about it will be welcomed by many.