Playtech to remain part of GC working group

28 May 2020

The Gambling Commission has revealed that Playtech will remain part of its industry working groups tasked with developing new standards for safer gambling, arguing that first-hand experience of its enforcement activity provides valuable lessons in raising standards for consumers.

The working groups were established in January this year, with Playtech leading the responsible game design working group alongside Scientific Games.

Earlier this week the Commission published details of an investigation launched following the suicide of a customer that wagered millions via Winner and Titanbet, two brands operated by Playtech’s PT Entertainment Services subsidiary.

Playtech has accepted full responsibility for the failings highlighted in the regulator’s review.

This, the regulator said, did not preclude the solutions giant from participating in this process.

“The three industry working groups which we established involved over 30 operators who bring a variety of expertise and experience in areas where progress must be made quickly to reduce harm,” a Commission spokesperson told iGB.

“As we acknowledged at the time, some of those operators had been the subject of our enforcement activity, which means that they have first-hand experience of why it’s critical to improve and raise the standards for consumers.

“They are also in no doubt that tougher regulation will follow if further and faster progress is not made.”

The supplier has made a £3.5m donation to charities dedicated to tackling gambling related harms, as well as issuing a personal apology to the individual’s family.

A number of management staff have also left the business following an internal investigation. Neither brand is active in the British market, with Playtech having taken the decision to focus on B2B operations in the country.

Playtech itself will also make a £5m donation to promote better understanding of “healthy online living” and the relationship between mental health and online gambling.

The Gambling Commission said that while it welcomed the company’s efforts to address the situation, it was “deeply disappointing” it had failed to do so earlier.

“We expect operators to learn lessons from this case and how this could have been avoided and will continue our investigations associated with the case.”

British industry association Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which counts Playtech among its members, described it as “a horrendous, tragic and deeply sad case”.

“While this company is no longer in operation, we fully support the actions of the Gambling Commission and believe that Playtech, as the parent company, has made the right decision to pay the expected fine of £3.5m in full and to commit in addition £5m to charities to help further understand the relationship between mental health and online gambling, and to apologise to the family,” it said.

While stressing that the case was historic, the BGC said lessons can - and must - be learned across the whole industry.

It pointed out that “millions” of people gambled without any problems, but added that one tragic case was “one too many”.

“Player safety is of paramount importance for the BGC and we will continue to work with our members to further improve protection for potentially at risk and vulnerable customers,” it said.

It then looked to highlight efforts to better protect players in recent months. BGC members have stepped up interventions, including blocking and restricting accounts for at-risk customers, amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it said.

Members have also complied with the Commission-mandated ban on credit card gambling, and increased funding for research, education and treatment for problem gambling.

“This approach to raising standards is one which is fully supported by Playtech today and we will continue to work with the industry, with the regulator and with government, to drive further improvements.”