BGC hails success of Responsible Gambling Week 2019 (including launch of APAS)

The newly launched Betting and Gaming Council has posted on its website the following reflections on this year’s Responsible Gambling Week (7th – 13th November 2019):

Responsible Gambling (RG) Week 2019 has been a huge success and the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) are delighted to have been involved. Responsible gambling is a central part of our mission to champion industry standards, which is why we fully support the diverse and inspiring announcements and initiatives of the past seven days. Whilst RGWeek 2019 has been extremely effective at raising awareness however, it will only be worthwhile if we can ensure it drives lasting standards for the industry.

You may have read about the wide-ranging and ambitious Responsible Gambling Commitments launched last week, and I am proud that the BGC will be driving these commitments forward in the coming years. I’m also delighted to have announced the new Anonymous Player Awareness System on behalf of the BGC this week. This system will identify potentially harmful behaviour in betting shops and trigger a “cooling-off period”, while alerting members of staff to the need for a possible intervention.

The BGC fully support the charities and organisations focusing on work to encourage responsible gambling in RGWeek 2019 and beyond. GamCare and the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) have run free training and workshops designed to start a dialogue with young people at risk. Their programmes aim to encourage young people to be more open about gambling-related difficulties, to develop greater awareness of the boundary between responsible gambling and addictive play, and to learn about where to find crucial support.

RGWeek has sponsored several different schemes throughout the past seven days designed to educate individuals about tools and frameworks currently in place. These include timekeeping reality checks warning players about excessive play, the roll-out of the universal GamStop scheme, and the new safer gambling campaign which addresses some of the concerns raised by the recent cross-party report by the Gambling Related Harm APPG.

Raising awareness and promoting education remain the most effective tools for encouraging responsible gambling. A recent YouGov poll found that 77% of users believe that the necessary tools are in place to promote responsible gambling, yet 60% believe that a more extensive education campaign to promote these tools would be worthwhile.

Responsible gambling initiatives need to be communicated better and more accessible to ensure that individuals can engage with them. RGWeek 2019 has shown how this campaigning should be undertaken and we look forward to playing a leading role in this work in the years ahead.

We know that considerable work is required to ensure that all betting and gaming is carried out responsibly, and Responsible Gambling Week has shown that achieving this is not an unrealistic ambition and that the industry is working hard to achieve this.

The Anonymous Player Awareness System (referred to above) has been developed over the last two years and is designed to identify signs of  potentially harmful gambling behaviour on gaming machines in licensed betting shops. This is explained as follows in a separate Betting and Gaming Council website posting:

The Betting and Gaming Council has announced the introduction of an Anonymous Player Awareness System (APAS) on gaming machines in betting shops.

APAS is a real-time algorithm for gaming machines which identifies areas of player behaviour that could indicate harmful play. Such behaviour will trigger an alert on-screen and force a break in play or ‘cooling-off period’, simultaneously staff will be alerted, allowing for a Responsible Gambling Interaction (RGI) where appropriate.

The introduction of APAS demonstrates betting shops’ continued work to ensure that customers have a safe and enjoyable experience. The forced ‘cooling-off’ periods for players with signs of potential harm adds to the tools already in place on betting shop gaming machines such as time and spend limit setting and responsible gambling messaging on screens.

The new APAS system will form part of the delivery of the ‘protecting and empowering customers’ work in the Safer Gambling Commitments announced by the Betting and Gaming Council last week.

The BGC also announced last week that £10m of funding would be provided for a national education programme designed and delivered by the charities GamCare and YGam for children and young people over the next four years.

BGC Chairman, Brigid Simmonds OBE said:

“I am delighted to launch these new measures today as part of Responsible Gambling Week. The Betting and Gaming Council has as its mission statement raising standards and this technology will create an environment that promotes safer play.”

Interim Chief Executive, Wes Himes said:

“I see this as an opportunity to champion the highest standards and share best practice on safe betting and gaming, and we hope these new measures are a sign of intent. I’m convinced that this approach can help restore public trust, and I look forward to working on further safer betting and gaming initiatives across our industry.”