New National Responsible Gambling Strategy consultation commenced

The Gambling Commission has commenced a consultation on:

  • five proposed priority areas for action over the life of a new National Responsible Gambling Strategy to minimise gambling-related harms, in view of the fact that the present strategy comes to an end in March 2019,
  • a proposed amendment to the LCCP social responsibility code provision 3.1.1 requirement for gambling businesses to contribute to research, prevention and treatment (the effect of which would be to specify that licensees’ contributions under this provision are made to one or more organisations that are approved by the Commission) and
  • associated arrangements needed to deliver the strategy.

“Gambling-related harms” are defined in the consultation document (that can be downloaded below) as follows:

  • the adverse impacts from gambling on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and society;
  • these harms are diverse, affecting resources, relationships and health, and may reflect an interplay between individual, family and community processes;
  • the harmful effects from gambling may be short-lived but can persist, having longer-term and enduring consequences that can exacerbate existing inequalities.

The five priority areas for action are identified as follows:

  1. Research to inform action (so that “a central data repository is established”),
  2. Prevention (to progress the “framework for understanding and measuring gambling-related harms” pursuant to July 2018’s report on gambling-related harms),
  3. Treatment (so that an understanding of “the long-term impact of the various types and methods of treatment for those with gambling addiction or experiencing moderate harms” enables identification of “which treatment methodologies best suit different groups, and to inform future work to increase the reach of treatment”),
  4. Evaluation (so that “greater emphasis is placed on improving evaluation and truly identifying what works”), and
  5. Gambling businesses (“to ensure that the efforts of gambling businesses are coordinated through targeted collaboration” so that, “in order to maximise progress”, they “focus their collaborative efforts to achieve the most impact”).

The final item above (numbered 5) clearly merits particular consideration by gambling operators, who may wish to ensure that they respond to the consultation before the time for doing so expires on 15 February 2019. In so doing, they will wish to take particular account of the following extracts from the consultation document that underlines the Gambling Commission’s constantly repeated call for greater collaboration and sharing of good practice:

Gambling businesses have been encouraged, or required, throughout the life of the current strategy to do more to protect their consumers, in particular children and other vulnerable people. There has been some progress by businesses in recognising the need to increase efforts to proactively identify problematic gambling to reduce the risk of harm to customers.
We have seen developments in the use of data analytics and processes to identify and interact with customers, and collaboration between businesses to share good practice and identify solutions has increased.
However, businesses still sometimes fail to use the information at their disposal or take the basic actions needed to meet their responsibilities – this is evident in the Commission’s enforcement activity. We want to target efforts to collaborate on areas where most impact can be seen by the actions of businesses.
Comparing and contrasting initiatives and programmes will be an important action throughout the life of the strategy. It is only through proper and proportionate evaluation that we can identify what works, so there is a role for gambling businesses to collaborate on actions to address Priority Area 4: Evaluation, and embed evaluation into both current practices and new ideas from the start.
Businesses should see sharing the lessons learned from approaches which have proved to be less successful to be as important as identifying the good aspects of their work.
Ensuring widespread adoption of current good practice: In order to make the most of the increasing evidence base through research, trialling and evaluating interventions to deliver better outcomes for all consumers, in particular vulnerable groups, we will support the sharing of current good practice and collaborate with businesses to do so.
Where there is evidence of what works to minimise the risk of gambling harms to customers, we will expect widespread adoption and use our regulatory tools to deliver consumer protections, including licence conditions, assurance processes and placing the onus on the right people (such as personal licence holders) to deliver these protections.
Insofar as the proposed LCCP amendments are concerned, the consultation document states as follows:

Earlier this year, to feed in to the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures, we reviewed the current arrangements, and considered options which could improve the application of funding to further the strategy. The outcome of this review [that can also be downloaded below] included a commitment to consulting on a change to our LCCP requirement on businesses to specify where contributions must go in order to meet the LCCP requirement. In that review, we said we would consider a mechanism to ensure that contributions to meet the LCCP requirement are made to organisations signed up to deliver the new national strategy under an agreed governance framework. This is to ensure that contributions are focused on actions to reduce gambling harms, and coordinated to enable the most effective delivery of the strategy.

It goes on to say that the Commission is therefore proposing an amendment to LCCP to specify that licensees’ contributions under this provision are made to one or more organisations that are approved by the Commission”, adding:

This is intended to give clarity to gambling businesses on how they can ensure they are compliant. It will reduce the risk to operators that they will select an inappropriate recipient in breach of code provision 3.1.1.(2). It will improve the outcomes for vulnerable persons who are or may be affected by gambling-related harms by helping to target funding within the priorities of the strategy and ensuring that organisations in receipt of funds operate within appropriate governance principles and arrangements.

Our engagement so far suggests that stakeholders, including those currently in receipt of contributions and gambling businesses themselves, will welcome this additional clarity and resulting coordination of effort.

This proposed change would only apply to those contributions made under the LCCP requirement and which are therefore reported to the Gambling Commission as part of regulatory returns. Contributions that are made to organisations which are not made in order to meet the LCCP requirement could continue to be made – as they are now – to any organisation which the gambling business considers appropriate.

As is sometimes the case at the moment, contributions could be made via trade associations so long as the destinations of the contribution meet the proposed amended LCCP requirement and there is clarity about the level of contributions made on behalf of each business.

It explains that when deciding whether to approve an organisation to which businesses may direct contributions under the LCCP requirement, the Commission proposes to take into account the following three aspects:

  • Does the organisation meet the basic principles of governance … as appropriate for their role?
  • Is the organisation signed up to deliver one or more of the functions of research, prevention or treatment under the next national strategy, with clear roles and responsibilities?
  • If appropriate and proportionate to the role which the organisation is carrying out, is there an appropriate governance framework in place?

The Commission states on its website that: “successful delivery of the strategy will require collective effort and engagement from a wide range of stakeholders, and we want as many people and organisations as possible to have a voice in shaping the strategy and the arrangements needed to deliver it”.

As mentioned above, the consultation runs until 15 February 2019 and you can express your views via an online survey that can be accessed here.

UPDATE: The Gambling Commission has announced that it is running a series of webinars as part of its above-mentioned consultation. The webinars will take place on 22 January, 23 January  and 29 January. Those interested in taking part can register using the above links.