The gambling regulator has challenged the biggest gambling firms in Britain to raise – and speed up – their game in keeping customers safe from gambling-related harm and creating a market that the public can trust.
The Gambling Commission has warned that operators who fail to protect the public risk their long term future in the industry.
Earlier today gambling industry leaders gathered in Birmingham for the Gambling Commission’s annual Raising Standards conference. The event is part of the Commission’s strategy to press its licensees to make gambling a fairer and safer experience for players.
The event – held in the home city of the gambling regulator’s headquarters – brings together the most senior representatives from gambling businesses regulated by the Commission, including the National Lottery operator Camelot, and groups with shared interests in making gambling fairer and safer. This includes consumer groups, other regulators and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Speaking at the conference, Sarah Harrison, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, reflected on the 12 months that have passed since the last conference, noting that while progress has been made, the industry hasn’t gone far enough to make gambling fairer and safer for consumers.
Sarah noted that “there has been some progress across the market that should rightly be acknowledged.” She later added: “The bar has been set too low by operators in relation to treating customers fairly. The customer experience has not been what it should be, and change is now coming. Fairness is key, transparency is essential, and unreasonable behaviour will not be accepted, by us, by our partner organisations and certainly not by the consumer.”
Leaving delegates in no doubt about the Commission’s expectations, Sarah concluded: “I want to restate our commitment to make the UK the best place in the world to enjoy gambling. To make sure that consumers are safe and that operators are fair and responsible. To have higher standards than ever before, that increase year on year.
“While our roles differ it is our shared interest in the outcomes that unites us – and please, I want you to take that message away with you today. We want to work with you to go much further and faster to reduce harm. But we are at a tipping point, and those that do not share this commitment, those who do not deliver for the consumer, will find themselves in an uncomfortable position, with their future in this industry increasingly in peril.”
Earlier in the day, Gambling Commission chair, Bill Moyes, opened the conference with a strong message to gambling firms: “Public support for gambling is beginning to decline. Public concern about gambling is increasing – about the scale of problem gambling, about advertising, about the potential impact on children and the vulnerable.
“My remarks today are a call to action. The industry can be seen as beyond redemption and requiring tough action to tackle its worst excesses. Or it can be seen as a responsible part of the entertainment industry, which acknowledges that it has the capacity to cause harm and demonstrates a real willingness to invest in improvement, in prevention and in treatment.”
Other speakers at the event included Jim Mullen (Ladbrokes Coral Group Chief Executive) who talked about how common interests and common goals can help drive a better business and Richard Lloyd, an advocate for consumers and former executive director of Which?
Key industry figures also discussed how businesses can change their approaches to marketing, systems and data, develop a culture of innovation and drive safer gambling. Panellists included Sir Chris Kelly (Chair of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board), Kate Lampard (Chair of GambleAware), Phil Cronin (Chief Executive Officer of Tombola), Richard Flint (Chief Executive Officer of SkyBet).