Bookmakers ‘think local’ to reduce the risks of problem gambling

bettingshopBookmakers must now set out how they will reduce social risks in their local area, such as if they are located near a school or homeless shelter, in order to reduce incidence of problem gambling.

The new guidelines will see operators consider their individual betting shop environments and introduce sufficient safeguards for any particular areas of concern specific to each premises.

The new rules have been brought in by the Gambling Commission for all land-based gambling operators in an attempt to reduce harm caused by gambling. The Commission, the Local Government Association and licensing authorities will be working closely over the coming months to make sure that new requirement delivers benefits to consumers.

Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, said that the new rules will build on measures betting shops have implemented to identify problem gamblers, training for shop staff on how to intervene and directing problem gamblers to the help that they need.

He added: “Bookmakers will be working with local councils, looking at the local environment and ensuring that we’ve got the structures in place that are appropriate for that area. It’s a dialogue we want to have with councils and communities, and it’s part of a process we’re following to ensure that betting shops the safest place to gamble on the high street.”

Rob Burkitt, Policy Development Manager at the Gambling Commission, said: “Local risk assessments give gambling operators a means to demonstrate how they are conducting or intend to conduct their business in a socially responsible manner. We want operators to think local and act local – to work with licensing authorities to ensure gambling is crime free, fair and open and children and vulnerable people are protected.”

Under the new rules a gambling premises adjacent to a bus stop which is used by college or school students, between 3- 5 pm for example, should ensure that staffing levels are adequate to mitigate the risk of underage access. If there is a gambling premises close to a homelessness hostel, the operator would ensure they have staff awareness training to ensure that homeless customers are not putting themselves at risk of harm.

Burkitt added: “We’re very keen on the use of all the tools available to protect children and vulnerable people and we hope to see more employment of technology such as that used in the Geofutures maps research. This innovative project explored which groups of people were more likely to be vulnerable to gambling harm and where these different groups of people were located – all invaluable information for conducting risk assessments.”

A Local Government Association spokesperson added: “The LGA strongly supports the introduction of new risk assessments for betting shops and other gambling premises, which will help protect those most at risk of addictive behaviour. Each business will have slightly different risks associated with it and different measures already in place, so the final assessments will look different for every premises.

“Many local councils are producing local area risk profiles to assist businesses as they draw up their assessments – these will typically plot points of risk such as schools, treatment centres or areas of significant deprivation. We hope that the gambling industry collectively rises to the occasion and demonstrates its commitment to social responsibility and preventing risky gambling behaviour.”

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