GC targets key responsible gambling challenges with new initiative

20 January 2020

The GB Gambling Commission has set out details of a new responsible gambling initiative, whereby it will work with GVC Holdings, Sky Betting and Gaming, Playtech and SG Gaming to form three industry working groups in an effort to make gambling safer.

Led by senior leaders within the industry, the three groups will focus on game and product design, advertising technology and high value customer incentives to gamble.

SG Gaming, a division of Scientific Games, and Playtech have agreed to head up work on producing an industry code for product design, while Sky Betting and Gaming will oversee an advertising technology working group. Meanwhile, GVC will lead a third group addressing issues around VIP inducements to gamble.

The proposed industry code for product design will set out how the industry can produce safer products, the techniques to use when designing apps, online games and gaming machine products, the risks associated with products and how they can be mitigated, as well as an explanation of what is not acceptable.

The advertising technology group will seek to address major concerns raised in a recent report by GambleAware, which showed that children, young people and vulnerable adults are being exposed to high levels of online gambling adverts.

In addition, the VIP group will focus on ensuring that bonuses, hospitality and gifts around VIP programmes, are offered in a manner which is consistent with the licensing objectives to make gambling fairer, safer and crime-free. According to the GC, the approach of some licensees has exacerbated at-risk behaviour and it is hoped this group will identify how existing rules can be strengthened.

“Consumer behaviour and technology are changing so quickly that only a bold and innovative approach will allow us to achieve a reduction in the numbers of people experiencing, or at risk from, gambling related harm,” said GC executive director Neil McArthur.

“I’ve been encouraged by the willingness of so many operators to work with us on these challenges. We’ve set demanding timetable for progress because we cannot proceed at the speed of the slowest.

“If rapid progress is not made then we will have to look at other options, as making gambling safer for consumers is paramount.”

Confirmation of the new groups comes after McArthur in October set out three challenges and opportunities that he said the industry must grasp in order to raise standards and reduce harm.

Speaking at the time, McArthur said the regulator would launch an industry-wide challenge to identify a technology solution to creating a single customer view to protect consumers who gamble with more than one operator.

As part of the project, the GC will work with the Information Commissioners Office and plans to stage a kick-off event in Birmingham next month for industry and technology providers.

Last week, the GC also issued a warning to operators to ensure their products meet transparency and online safety standards, after discovering that operators were offering games that featured a ‘buy-in’ option for bonus features.

This saw players able to pay money to access games’ bonus feature without playing the games’ normal rounds. Six operators were found to be offering the feature, with one charging more than £3,000 for immediate access to the bonus round.