UKGC’s Tim Miller highlights need for more requirements in UK gambling sector
The UKGC’s Executive Director of Research and Statistics, Tim Miller, has announced all the discoveries made during the very first ‘National Strategic Assessment’. This assessment goes over and analyzes the UKGC’s reaction to all risks and responsibilities.
This assessment was conducted based on the four main constituents which were the person who is gambling, the location where this gambling is taking place, who the provider of the gambling equipment is and the products that are available.
Furthermore, Miller also mentioned the fact that the Commission’s assessment was conducted using the most appropriate and accurate proof that was available, as well as taking into consideration the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the habits and practices of the customers. This assessment took about three years to complete and was undertaken simultaneously with the many changes that happened in gambling rules and regulations, policies and research.
The research conducted also took into account the fact that problem gambling is now dealt with as a public health problem and using a fitting approach, since this also was not accepted back when the assessment began.
Aside from that, the UKGC also acknowledged that those who have been or have ever suffered from problem gambling should be recognized. And in order to make this a reality, the authority teamed up with ‘Lived Experience Advisory Panel’ to help out with the development of policies and the collection of information.
The panel went on to say:
We were amongst the first voices to make the arguments that Gambling Harms should be recognised as a Public Health issue and adopted a public health approach when we published the first-ever National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms in 2019.
Even though there was much progress made, the authority still noted that there are many risks still present, which really changed the profile of anyone who is directly or indirectly being affected by problem gambling-related issues.
Miller also stated that UK consumers turned to iGaming as of late, considering the pandemic. Before COVID-19, online gambling had grown to over half of Gross Gambling Yield (excluding prizes). Miller further said:
This has obvious implications for where and how customers gamble, as does the increasing use of mobile phones to play.
There are still many risks that come with this seeing as the United Kingdom’s gambling industry has been going through many changes as of late, especially when it comes to mergers and takeovers, which has brought on safety implications as “compliance work has seen that time taken to integrate different systems and approaches can disadvantage customers in terms of safer gambling and customer experience.”
The UK Gambling Commission already improved its involvement with compliance enforcement after it announced the issuing of over £90 million in penalty packages since 2017, and it even nullified 10 different operator licences since then. It has also imposed a strict string of requirements for operators to meet when it comes to player verification and identification, and issued a ban on gambling by using credit cards. Obviously, there had to be some alterations made during 2020 in order to stick with COVID-19 guidelines and safety measures, with the whole industry shifting online. The NSA also decided to make some changes for online gambling operators, and add some new rules such as reviewing deposit thresholds, customer care interventions and more…
Miller further noted that even though it had met its compliance goals, the Commission still had to provide better support to its four main research constituents. To do this, it released instructions that aim to create a ‘single customer view’ in the country’s gambling sector, which will in turn offer stakeholders a ‘full picture’ of customers habits and risks.
He further explained:
Amongst the debate around gambling, it often gets forgotten that a lot of progress has been made over the last three years. A Single Customer View could dramatically help reduce harm and that is why we will not accept progress at the pace of the slowest on this work. Over the last five years it does appear that there is an emerging trend showing a decline in overall rates of problem gambling. Now I said I would return to the increased political interest and scrutiny that gambling and our work has received in recent years.
As a statutory regulator, it is right that we are scrutinised and held to account for how we deliver the licensing objectives and we know that different groups may have very different views about how our role should be performed. In particular, we welcome greater interest from Parliament in making gambling safer. Whether that interest is long-held, came from concerns over FOBTs or is yet more recent, we welcome the diversity of interest and perspective that this greater scrutiny brings.
Some of the more general changes and advancements saw the country’s problem gambling rate attain a four-year low in 2020, at 0.3%, when it had been 0.6% the previous year, 0.6% again in 2017 and 0.7% in 2016. And in order to progress this year, the executive revealed many of the UKGC’s goals for the year in order to improve the country’s standards regarding safe gambling.
Some of the measures that were put forward include a ban on the features that speed up gameplay or seem like they provide control over the results, any slots that spin faster than 2.5 seconds, audio and images that make it seem like the player is winning when they actually end up losing or staying equal…
Miller ended his statement by saying:
We are working hard to make Great Britain the safest place to gamble in the world and we need you all to work with us to achieve that outcome.We recognise the unprecedented pressures on businesses and we know that some operators have been forced to make tough decisions to keep businesses and jobs viable in recent months. But even through the turbulence of the pandemic, progress is being made in making gambling safer. The evidence is suggesting that we are on the right track. So let’s keep on going together.