The Players’ Panel is made up of customers from across Entain’s brands such as Ladbrokes, Coral and Gala Bingo. Members sign up voluntarily, with no payment in return.
It is designed to allow them discuss issues related to gambling. They will also be connected to political decision-makers, the media and other stakeholders, to share their individual perspectives on the industry.
Formation of the panel coincides with the UK Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which launched in December last year.
The call for evidence issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport runs until 31 March, and will see issues such as stake limits, gambling advertising and the role of the GB Gambling Commission come under the spotlight.
Entain said the panel would support this process, by allowing customers that gamble responsibly an opportunity to contribute to a balanced debate.
“Betting and gambling is a popular pastime for many people, yet the individuals who take part in it regularly and recreationally are rarely asked their opinion,” Entain’s corporate affairs director Grainne Hurst commented.
“At Entain we are committed to putting our customers first, and the Players’ Panel is an additional way to ensure that the voice of our regular customers, are considered in the debate about the future of our industry”
Elizabeth, one of the Players’ Panel members and a health and safety executive from Walsall, said there were “loads” of people like her, who played slots and bingo for fun.
“Until now we didn’t have any voice in the elite debate about gambling – even though it’s our hobby that’s being discussed,” she said.
“No one wants to see kids betting or people putting themselves at risk, but freedom of choice and personal responsibility are also really important. There must be more that can be done to protect people, but we have to get the right balance.”
Another member, library worker Ken from Newcastle, said bingo and sports betting were his form of social entertainment, whereas others may go to the cinema or the pub.
“Like most people I’m fair with my betting,” Ken said. “The small amount that I am prepared to lose is around the cost of two pints of beer a week, and I believe I get good value for money.
“There are so many people out there like me and I’m glad to get our voice heard through The Players’ Panel.”
The launch of the panel was accompanied by the results of polling carried out by Entain, gathering views on key issues around betting and gambling. This saw 1,781 customers polled, in July 2020.
Of those polled, 73% were of the opinion that betting and gaming was a normal leisure activity, with 79% of respondents stating individuals should be free to choose what activities they participate in.
Furthermore, 81% of Entain’s customers believe that it is down to the individual to decide whether to gamble. The number that believe that individual responsibility extends to how much each player gambles fell to 68%.
Those that believe individuals are best placed to decide how much they can afford to gamble then fell to 64%.
For staking limits, 71% were of the opinion that these should be voluntary and set by players themselves.
While the Gambling Commission has looked to play down the potential threat from offshore operators, Entain’s survey then looked to counteract these claims.
Its survey suggested that 30% of customers had either indirect or indirect experience of gambling with unlicensed operators, and 45% claimed they would consider moving offshore if they were required to provide proof of income in order to gamble.
While it did not provide figures for this statement, it said younger consumers were more likely to have experience of gambling with black market operators, and were more likely to consider it as an option should a £2 stake limit be imposed.