The Gambling Commission has today published its Annual Report and Accounts, that can be downloaded below.
Future-focused comments within the Chairman’s Message that will be of particular interest to UK licence-holders include the following:
Protection of children and the vulnerable
As we now look to accelerate the pace of change across these five areas in the year ahead, we are starting to see signs that the gambling industry is willing to recognise the need for more effective controls in relation to the protection of consumers, particularly those who may be vulnerable, such as children and young people – for example the recently announced voluntary bans on advertising during televised sports matches. Although there is much more the industry could and should do, the Commission welcomes signs of an openness to change, and in the year ahead we will work with the industry and our partners, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to build on the progress we have seen during 2018-19.
In the coming year we hope to see an increase in contributions from the industry to finance research, education and treatment to reduce harms caused by gambling. Even so, the sums currently contributed voluntarily by the industry are likely to fall well short of what will be required. Reliance on agreed settlements between the Commission and companies in breach of their licence conditions is not the answer and we therefore intend to explore other approaches, and we hope the industry will support us in doing so.
Prevention of gambling harms
Our challenge to gambling operators is to ensure the prevention of gambling harms is understood at every level of their organisations and is intrinsic to the determination of remuneration, bonuses, promotion and disciplinary procedures. A positive attitude around the board table is not enough, although it is welcome. Preventing harm to customers has to be a key priority for everyone working in the gambling industry as it is in other industries.
Reduction of volume of sports betting advertising and sponsorship
We also welcome the stated future commitment by many in the industry to make gambling a safer pastime through voluntary initiatives and collaboration with the Commission and with Government. Over the next 12 months we hope that the industry will move to further increase public trust by building on its existing plans to reduce the volume of sports betting advertising and sponsorship.
Blurring of lines between gaming and online gambling
The rapid advances in technology has meant that an increasing proportion of gambling is now conducted online using tablets or mobile phones. The distinction between gaming and online gambling is becoming increasingly blurred, and this raises serious questions about how we can ensure that children and young people are protected, without being denied access to legitimate forms of entertainment.
Use of credit cards
As cash declines in importance and contactless debit and credit cards become the main forms of monetary transaction, the case for allowing gamblers to pay using credit cards will once again be raised and we will provide full and detailed recommendations on this issue.