The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has confirmed that it will create three new focus groups to help facilitate the implementation of safer gambling standards.
Led by senior leaders in the gambling industry, the three collaboration groups will focus on game and product design, advertising technology and high value customer incentives to gamble.
The initiative, which is said to be the first-of-its-kind, will follow on from a briefing in October 2019 in which UKGC CEO Neil McArthur outlined three challenges and opportunities that the industry must grasp to raise standards and rapidly reduce harm across the sector.
SG Gaming and Playtech have both committed to leading work on producing an effective Industry Code for Product Design. The group will primarily focus on how the gambling industry can continue to produce safer products in the future, while also looking at the techniques used to develop games and the associated risks.
Meanwhile, Sky Betting and Gaming has agreed to oversee the advertising technology working group, which will explore and quickly accelerate opportunities to reduce the amount of advertising seen by children, young people and vulnerable adults.
The group focusing on the use of VIP incentives will be led by GVC Holdings, and will involve close cooperation with the Betting and Gaming Council. This group will ‘help ensure bonuses, hospitality and gifts in particular around VIP programmes, are offered in a manner which is consistent with the licensing objectives to make gambling fairer, safer and crimefree’.
Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: “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.
“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.”
The three working groups are, in more detail:
Safer products: The industry code for responsible product and game design working group will set out how the gambling industry can produce safer products in the future, the techniques to use when designing apps, online games and gaming machine products, the risks associated with each product and how they can be mitigated, and a clear explanation of what is not acceptable.
Safer advertising online: An interim report by Gamble Aware from earlier this year shows that children, young people and vulnerable adults report they are being exposed to significant levels of online gambling adverts – including via social media. The Advertising Technology challenge will therefore explore and quickly accelerate opportunities to reduce the amount of advertising seen by children, young people and vulnerable adults.
Use of VIP incentives: The incentivisation of high value customers working group will help ensure bonuses, hospitality and gifts in particular around VIP programmes, are offered in a manner which is consistent with the licensing objectives to make gambling fairer, safer and crimefree. The Commission’s casework has found evidence that the approach of some licensees has exacerbated at-risk behaviour and this new group will identify how existing rules can be strengthened.
This approach utilises the skills and resources of the industry but ensures the Commission retains control of outputs – and consequently the best progress for British consumers.