Gambling Commission CEO speech: areas of major concern & future action plus a rare compliment

The Gambling Commission CEO, Neil McArthur, delivered a wide-ranging speech to those attending a CEO Breakfast Briefing in London on 2 October.

His speech (that can be downloaded below) included reference to the following areas that represent particular concerns for the Commission and its action plans for the coming months.

  • Gambling on credit, in relation to which the Commission is “looking closely at the case for introducing further protections for consumers online and this includes the evidence for imposing stake limits online as a means of further reducing the risk of harm”.
  • The offer of VIP status and associated incentives and bonuses because “if the industry cannot or will not drive improvements in this area, [the Commission] will need to explore the use of all our tools to encourage or mandate changes in the interests of consumer protection”.
  • The impact of changes in consumer behaviour and technology on the licensing objectives, raising the question in  relation to mobile play “What are you doing about the new risks that a shift in the way people play brings?”
  • Data arising from recent research into the connection between Suicide and Gambling, posing the questions:
    • “How have your own risk assessments changed as a result of that data?” and
    • “What additional thought has your company given to how it can minimize the risk of harm to groups we know are at greater risk of mental health issues and, in some tragic cases, greater risk of suicide?”
  • Opportunities in the following respects:
    • an effective Industry Code for Game Design that will set out:
      • the techniques that the industry plans to use when designing apps, online games and gaming machine products
      • the risk associated with each product and how they can be mitigated
      • a clear explanation of what is not acceptable.
    • development of a code of conduct on inducements to gamble offered to VIP consumers
    • industry collaboration to develop a plan that sets out new standards for how industry will embrace ad-tech for social responsibility purposes, actively targeting ads away from vulnerable audiences.

Gambling Commission licence-holders should also note the following rare compliment delivered by the Commission’s CEO:

In November, I called on you to know your customers better and I know you have been working to do that. Progress has been made on:

  • markers of harm,
  • customer interaction and
  • affordability checks.

There has been an encouraging increase in the number of operators investing in and developing algorithms and machine learning to identity customers who may be experiencing harm.

We have also seen increasing numbers of operators evaluating the effectiveness of their identification tools and customer interaction processes.

At another point in his speech, Neil McArthur said: “We also want to support you to overcome challenges where that will help consumers. For example – recently one of you told me a challenge for you was consumers not understanding why you were asking to see proof of affordability. So we’ve added a page to our website so consumers can see why we ask you to make those checks, which you can link to or point consumers toward if they ask”. The webpage to which he was referring can be found here. It can also be downloaded below.

You can also download below a speech delivered at the same event by the newly appointed Chair of the new Advisory Board for Safer Gambling, Anna van der Gaag.