Redressing the balance – we all need to care about reducing gambling related harm

Not long now until our Keeping Crime out of Gambling and Social Responsibility for Gambling Operators conference. So here’s our MD, Paula Pusey with her views on recent industry events…Paula Pusey KnowNow

The old saying, it doesn’t rain but it pours, seems to apply to the gambling industry at the moment. Public opinion seems firmly set that the operators are the big bad wolf presiding over a problem gambling epidemic without a care in the world.

This is a view fueled by the politicians and the press alike. Only yesterday I read an article in the FT claiming that;

“the gambling industry’s lack of regard for its impact on society means that the government must act to curb its excesses.”

In the last few weeks alone we have seen the resignation of Tracey Crouch from her post as Parliamentary Under Secretary for Sport And Civil Society over the government’s proposed delay on the cutting of FOBT stakes. A delay that was swiftly backtracked on when MP’s from all parties added their voices to object.

The Gambling Commission have published their Young People and Gambling report suggesting that almost a million 11 to 16 year olds say they have been exposed to gambling through games and apps and almost half a million children bet regularly online. Alarmingly it also suggested that as many as 55,000 children are thought to have a gambling problem and a further 70,000 said to be at risk.

There has been public outcry at the £265m Bet365 boss, Denise Coates took home in the last year. A topic that even made a splash on BBC’s Question Time last week.

The Gambling Commission fined Daub Alderney £7.1m for anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures. This is just the latest in a line of sizable fines we have seen over the last couple of years. I’m sure we will see more in the future. It’s common knowledge that a number of operators are under review by the GC.

Sky TV have put a limit to one gambling advert per break during live sporting fixtures from the start of the next Premier League season in August. This comes off the back of mounting pressure on gambling promotion in general.

I could go on and on and fill this whole blog post with the twists and turns that are being used by the press to cast the operators firmly in the role of villain of the piece. There are plenty of real issues associated with gambling. Player protection and the prevention of gambling related crime are serious and complex considerations for all stakeholders. That’s a crucial point because the operators are stakeholders as well and there is plenty going on across the industry aimed at addressing these inherent problems.

Responsible Marketing for Gambling Operators.

In October we hosted our Responsible Marketing for Gambling Operators event in London where a packed room heard from Ian Angus, Programme Director at the Gambling Commission and Andrew Taylor, Regulatory Policy Executive at CAP. Delegates went on to look at the pressing issues around marketing. This ranged from what they can do to help protect the young and vulnerable, putting social responsibility at the heart of campaigns, affiliate marketing and its associated pitfalls. We even heard a heart moving speech by ex problem gambler Owen Baily on the real life impact of marketing practices.

January KnowNow conferences.

In January, we’ll be turning our attention to Keeping Crime Out of Gambling and Social Responsibility for Gambling Operators. We have a great lineup of speakers over the two days.

KnowNow Conferences

Keeping Crime out of Gambling.

Brain Faint from the Cheshire Constabulary and Neil Platt, Director and Clinical Lead at Beacon Counselling Trust will be setting the scene on day 1. They will be looking at what gambling related crime actually means and the great work they are doing across this entire area from low level public order offences to large scale organised crime.

David Clifton, Partner at Clifton Davies will be moderating our AML panel with a host of experts to discuss where we are and how we move forwards. In the afternoon we’ll have an in depth panel session on spotting fraud.

We have practical sessions such as internal audit, handling on-site inspections and being ready to actually show the regulator what you do hosted by Ray Wilson from AML Global Solutions.

Simo Dragicevic, CEO at BetBuddy will be showcasing the work he’s been doing around applications of AI to identify anomalous behaviors. We’ll also be looking at the regulation of blockchain with JP Fabri, Managing Director at ARQ Group in Malta.

Social Responsibility for Gambling Operators.

On day 2 we have Professor Mark Griffiths, Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University and Director of International Gaming Research Unit talking about the blurring of the lines between gaming and gambling and behavioral addiction. Following on from this talk representatives from Sky Betting and Gaming and YGAM will be talking about the work they have been doing to help educate young people about screen time and what their personal choices mean for them. They will be showcasing the Scrabit App and how they are using technology to help in this area.

Our morning panel, moderated by Dan Waugh from Regulus will be looking at what makes a solid social responsibility programme. The afternoon panel, moderated by Joe Ewens, Managing Editor at GamblingCompliance,  looks into self exclusion. We’ll be hearing from Monzo Bank, GAMSTOP and Gamban on that one. In addition we’ll get some real life feedback from recovering problem gambler Daniel Cheetham.

Reducing gambling related harm.

The fact that I have once again been able to put together such a packed programme is testament to the work that is going on both inside and around the industry. I ask myself – why have I not seen any coverage of this splashed across the front page of mainstream media? I guess the answer is that it doesn’t sell papers!

We encourage open conversation at our events which are designed to bring stakeholders together and promote collaboration and best practice. Yes regulation is important and that part of the puzzle has to be in place. However it isn’t the full picture. Regulation can by its very nature seem wooly and be hard to interpret and implement. Also over regulation is dangerous because it can drive black market activity – nobody wants that. Most of the operators I speak to are conscientious. I see no value in demonising the responsible operators and in turn enabling those with less scruples. Everyone needs to work together on an even footing to progress common knowledge and understanding of these very serious issues. We hope you’ll be joining us in January to do just that.

Tickets for both days are on sale now.

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