Gaming industry standards body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has committed to having its members make safer gambling messaging more prominent in advertising, following calls from the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Minister for sport, tourism and heritage Nigel Huddleston wrote to the UK’s five leading operators and the BGC, asking for operators to provide player data to allow DCMS to track changes in player behaviour. He also told operators to give safer gambling messaging greater prominence in their promotional material.
Much of what Huddleston demanded appeared to have already been included in the BGC’s ten-point plan for protecting players during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. However its chief executive Michael Dugher (pictured) said it would immediately work with members to examine how to give these warnings and advice greater prominence.
Dugher added that it was also looking to ensure the members were able to provide the internal data on players’ gambling habits as a matter of urgency. Operators would also expedite agreed changes to VIPs, advertising technology and game design that were agreed by working groups established by the Gambling Commission.
This has already seen players aged 25 and under blocked from VIP schemes, while age-gating advertising technology would also be deployed to stop this demographic being exposed to industry advertising.
“We strongly welcome the proactive approach taken by you on this matter,” Dugher said in his reponse to Huddleston. “I know from our previous conversations just how seriously the government takes this issue and you have been steadfast in reminding the industry of the high standards you rightly expect and demand.”
“I can give you 100% assurance that despite the severe financial pressures the industry is under at present, our members in the regulated sector are fully committed to working with you and the Government to address all concerns on safeguarding customers.”
The BGC CEO told Huddleston there had been a significant drop in total gambling, with no live sports and all betting shops, bingo halls and casinos closed, but the industry was already stepping up efforts to protect online customers.
However, he also pointed out that the BGC represents betting shops, igaming, bingo and casino operators only, and warned that there was a wider industry that would have to be monitored during the pandemic.
“We don’t represent the National Lottery, which represents a huge amount of gambling in the UK, nor do we represent large society lotteries and arcades, so we cannot therefore speak on their behalf,” he said. “Further the BGC does not represent any unlicensed, unregulated offshore operators that exist online via the black-market that may be targeting UK customers.
“I am sure, though, that the government is committed to tackling the issue of problem gambling wherever it occurs, without fear of favour.”
The news comes after the Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group (APBGG) launched a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, ahead of a government-led review expected to begin later this year. The group, which is largely supportive of the industry, aims to assess four key topics: A public health approach to gambling; gambling's relationship with football; gambling marketing, and whether the 2005 Act is fit for purpose.