Photo of Brigid Simmonds

Brigid Simmonds

Safer gambling is 24/7 and all year round for the BGC and our members, but it is good to have a week where we can encourage our customers to think about their betting and ensure they remain in control.

This was the 5th year of Safer Gambling Week which is very much a cross-industry campaign involving arcades, bingo clubs, casinos, bookmakers, online operators as well as the Irish bookmakers too. All our members commit to taking part and as many physical premises as possible display posters and signage in their windows and inside.

And to answer our critics, yes of course safer gambling is a 24/7, all year round, top of the tree agenda for both the BGC and all our members, but it is good to have a week where not only can thousands of colleagues take part in engagement programmes, but we can encourage all our customers to think about their betting and gaming and ensure that they remain firmly in control.

Last year there was a substantial increase in the use of deposit limit tools during and immediately after Safer Gambling Week. The number of deposit limits set jumped 49% during the week and the total number of players setting deposit limits rose 58% compared to the previous four weeks. This led to a 128% increase on deposit limits set during 2019, so this year we created dedicated messaging on the use of deposit limit tools that all online operators could use.

This year’s campaign got off to a brilliant start, with social media engagements up by over 60 per cent on launch day. Operators also include Safer Gambling Week messaging in nearly all of their adverts, demonstrating their strong support for the campaign.

Activities have included communicating with customers about safer gambling and raising awareness of tools and tips on where to find more information and support. This has been helped by the consistency achieved by the GamCare Code on the Display of Safer Gambling information and the safer gambling icon on all operators’ websites.

Individual companies have led programmes of colleague engagement using specialists such as Epic Risk Management and working with those who have ‘lived experience’. A ‘Feet on the Street’ initiative included all head office retail colleagues visiting all their betting shops, while in another member there was a lock-in for staff with the safer gambling manager and customer welfare teams. Barclays Bank offered a financial wellbeing workshop to teams, while many operators’ brand ambassadors – many of them well-known figures with significant social media following – making videos making clear their support for Safer Gambling Week.

As well as having the support of the Gambling Commission and Chris Philp, the new gambling minister, it was great to see 26 MPs and peers from both main parties turning up on College Green to show their support for the campaign.

Meanwhile, all 72 clubs in the English Football League put Safer Gambling Week banners on their websites and used their pitch-side advertising to promote the campaign. In the Premier League, players at the West Ham v Liverpool match on Sunday will wear Safer Gambling Week t-shirts during their warm-up, while all all-weather race meetings, as well as at Aintree, Betway-sponsored races promoted the campaign.

There were a range of online and in-person events, culminating in the EGR in person conference for CEOs. Our national charities GamCare and YGAM have run a Safer Gambling Forum featuring the charities’ young people and women’s programmes as well as latest updates from the TalkBanStop campaign. Risk awareness for young people is key to our future.

As we approach the end of Safer Gambling Week, where are we? We have certainly raised awareness in person and of course on social media. This is clearly about keeping our customers safe, but also starting and stimulating conversations about safer gambling within the media, influencer and training organisations, government agencies and of course the general public.

The latest figures from the Gambling Commission, showing the rate of problem gambling halving from 0.6 per cent to 0.3 per cent over the last year – with the rate of those deemed to be at moderate risk also well down on 12 months ago – is certainly encouraging, and a sign that our determination to raise standards is bearing fruit. However, we are far from complacent.

We need to talk about safer gambling, make sure that we do ‘Take Time to Think’ and use all the tools available to pause and consider, set a deposit limit, take time out and know where you can self exclude, moderate play and stay in control. This is a journey and at the BGC we are not at all complacent, but Safer Gambling Week is an important step along the way.

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