Building on our recent 10 pledges for Covid19, BGC Members have committed to further safer gambling measures in a letter to the Sports Minister.
The letter reads:
Thank you for your letter of 20th April regarding safeguarding online gamblers during the covid-19 lockdown period.
We strongly welcome the proactive approach taken by you on this matter. 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 have also been grateful for positive feedback you have given the BGC about our ten pledges for enhanced safer gambling during covid-19 and for the contribution the industry is making across the country to support the National Effort. I can give you 100 per cent 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.
As you know, the Betting and Gaming Council is the new standards body which represents betting shops, online gaming businesses, bingo and casinos. 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. 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.
Whilst there has been a significant drop in total gambling with no live sport and with all betting shops, bingo halls and casinos closed, our members are already stepping up safer gambling messaging, interventions and initiatives to ensure that any customers betting online are doing so safely.
As you recognised in your letter, we have already introduced a 10 pledge action plan with tough new safer gambling measures during covid-19 which go beyond current regulatory requirements. This includes actively promoting deposit limits, increasing safer gambling messaging, restricting and blocking accounts where necessary, and taking action to ensure responsible advertising, including monitoring volumes.
As you set out in your letter, we fully support a mandatory requirement for all UK licensed online operators to sign-up to GamStop and believe that those operators that refuse to do so should undergo an immediate licence review by the Gambling Commission. We are pleased that the Gambling Commission has recently taken action on those who refuse to sign up to GamStop. All BGC members have implemented the recent changes in GamStop requirements which have strengthened player self-exclusion. As you know there are no safer gambling measures in place on the illegal black-market and we will work with the regulator to identify these companies to ensure that they are blocked from access in the UK. I can also assure you that all our members have introduced a ban on gambling with credit cards as of 14th April.
You have asked for safer gambling messages to be given more prominence in all adverts across all channels. I am happy to say that we will immediately work with our members to examine how we will implement this as an immediate high priority.
We can further confirm that our members have received a request for data from the Gambling Commission and we will work to ensure that this is urgently provided to the regulator. We will also look to expedite agreed changes to VIPs, advertising technology and game design. Our members have already implemented restrictions on VIP accounts for anyone under 25 and will look to bring forward age-gating on advertising technology to help prevent under 25s receiving advertising along with all other measures.
We can assure you that we are firmly committed to increasing funding for research, education and treatment (RET), despite the severe financial pressures that our members are under during the covid-19 crisis. We will work with your Department and the regulator to ensure that funding is well managed and targeted where it is required.
Last year the largest operators committed to increasing RET to 1% of GGY by 2023 up from 0.1% as provided by guidance from the Gambling Commission. What is most important to us is that we direct this help to where it is needed as soon as possible. Therefore, our largest members are looking to make this commitment to those organisations that are already approved by the regulator and that are able to quickly scale up existing delivery of safer gambling research, education and treatment. In addition, we have committed a further £10 million to safer gambling education and £3.8 million to continue the BetRegret public awareness campaign.
We will work with you, the Government and the regulator to address any further areas where there is an identifiable increased risk to customers during the current crisis.