Following increasing criticism of the gambling industry over recent years, ten of the UK’s top gambling groups have agreed five voluntary measures to tackle the growing problem of gambling addiction.
The companies who have signed up to the scheme will be hoping that, as a result, further regulations won’t be imposed on the gambling sector.
According to research by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), more than two million people in the UK are either gambling addicts or at real risk of developing a gambling problem. With the growth of online casinos, the UKGC and several gambling addiction charities are now calling for a responsible gambling framework to be introduced.
The industry has come under considerable fire for not doing enough to protect players or promote a safe gambling environment, and with recent UK Government recommendations calling for greater restrictions to be imposed on online gambling, including introducing a £2 stake limit on online slot games, placing limitations on VIP accounts, and banning credit card payments, many of the gambling industry’s biggest names are taking steps to avoid having new legislation imposed on them.
Following talk of tightening regulations, Bet365, William Hill, GVC Holdings, Flutter Entertainment, Aspers, Caesars, Genting, Playtech, Rank Group and Sky Betting & Gaming have all signed an agreement where they commit to five safer gambling pledges:
- Prevent underage gambling and attempt to protect young people.
- Increase the support offered to people who need treatment for gambling harm.
- Strengthen and expand the codes of practice around the advertising and marketing of gambling products.
- Empower and protect customers.
- Promote a culture of safer gambling.
Peter Jackson, Chief Executive of Flutter Entertainment, said of the initiative: “These commitments are an important step forward for the sector in their own right and also signal a genuine desire to ensure that acting responsibly is at the heart of our businesses”.
“The five core safer gambling commitments will hope to deliver long-term and fundamental changes in how gambling companies are run in the UK and how they empower, protect and support their customers”, he continued.
These pledges were developed in partnership with the industry-funded Senet Group, an independent body set up to promote responsible gambling and raise standards in the sector, and they will be monitored independently.
One of the first initiatives to be introduced following this new collaboration is a four-year national programme intended to educate young people about gambling, which will be run by GamCare and the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust. It will be funded by a £10m grant from the gambling industry.
The announcement of these five pledges has coincided with the launch of the Betting and Gaming Council, which will replace the Remote Gambling Association and the Association of British Bookmakers.
Whether these commitments made by the ten gambling firms will effect change in the sector remains to be seen, but industry watchers will no doubt be keeping a close eye on any progress made.