Great deal still to be done if the National Responsible Gambling Strategy is to be judged a success

The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (“RGSB”) has today published its annual assessment of how much progress has been made with delivering year two of the three year National Responsible Gambling Strategy.

The report (that can be downloaded below) summarises the progress that has been made in the delivery of the 12 Priority Actions in the Strategy, and identifies that more needs to be done to increase the pace of delivery over the next and final year. Last year’s annual report can be accessed here.

This year’s report concludes as follows:

  • “Our overall assessment of progress with the National Responsible Gambling Strategy is that it is good in parts, but not yet sufficiently good to make us comfortable about the position likely to be reached at the end of the third and final year. Some operators are more active than others in responding to the challenges of the Strategy. Progress on some of the Priority Actions is looking more successful than others; and there are a number of areas where things could have gone significantly better – not all of these being the responsibility of the industry”.
  • “Generally, the pace of change has been slower than we had hoped, and expected, given the degree of sign-up when the Strategy was first published. We believe there to be a number of possible reasons. Two appear to us to be particularly important:
    1. Despite what we believe to have been genuinely good intentions at the beginning, ownership of the Strategy by operators is much less complete than we had hoped. Only a minority seem really to understand what is required of them if the Strategy is to be successful; and genuine culture change is, perhaps inevitably, proving to be difficult.
    2. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake not to have a more fully worked through implementation plan for delivering the Strategy, with individual accountabilities more clearly established and greater direction from the Gambling Commission about what they expected to happen”.
  • “We therefore welcome the intention of the Gambling Commission to provide greater leadership to coordinate and encourage implementation in the future”.
  • “Once a type of intervention or action has been shown to be effective at protecting players from harm, greater consideration needs to be given to mandating it across all operators. Those operators who are leading the way and investing more time and effort in the identification and reduction of gambling-related harms should not be commercially disadvantaged. In our view, all 12 Priority Actions in the Strategy remain relevant. But to maximise the impact that can be achieved over the final 12 months of the Strategy period we believe that operators should pay particular attention to better detection of consumers who are suffering, or at risk of, harm, to further work to develop, pilot and test new ways of protecting players from harm, and to the evaluation of these interventions. For other stakeholders, the continued focus should be particularly on understanding, identifying and measuring gambling-related harms, on further embedding the work on gambling as a public health issue and on developing national strategies on preventive education and treatment”.
  • “We continue to believe in the relevance and importance of the Strategy. There is, however, a great deal to be done over the next 12 months if it is to be judged a success. That will require considerable effort from everyone concerned. Failure would, or ought to, call into question some of the assumptions on which the current framework for the regulation of gambling is based”.

Gambling Commission executive director, Tim Miller, has responded as follows to the findings in the RGSB progress report:

  • “RGSB’s progress report reaffirms our view that there is still considerable work to be done to protect consumers from gambling related harm”.
  • “We can see there has been progress towards delivering the National Responsible Gambling Strategy by the industry and others. But we are now in the final 12 months of the three year plan, and we remain concerned that many of the priority actions have not moved along as far as they should have”.
  • “The concerns highlighted mirror some of those within our own ambitious strategy to make gambling fairer and safer for consumers. The challenge we all face is how to deliver a gambling market that provides consumer choice and enjoyment whilst also protecting against the risks gambling can create and its impact on wider society”.
  • “But, this isn’t a challenge the Gambling Commission can address on its own. Many of the RGSB’s recommendations require us, as the industry regulator, to lead on delivery, and we will do more to speed up progress”.
  • “However, with over two million people at-risk or classed as problem gamblers in Great Britain, and many more either at risk of harm or affected by somebody else’s gambling, there needs to be a real concerted focus by everyone that has a part to play”.
  • “We need continued strong partnerships with other regulators, consumer representatives and government. Most importantly, we need the industry to step up and work to raise standards and reduce the risk of harm”.
Download article PDF: RGSB Progress Report 2017-18