GamCare publishes New Industry Code for the Display of Safer Gambling Information

GamCare has today (5 March 2021) launched a new Industry Code for the Display of Safer Gambling Information by gambling businesses which is intended to “simplify how information about safer gambling tools, plus the support available for anyone struggling to control their gambling, is displayed on UK gambling websites and apps”.

You can download the new Code of Conduct below.

Commenting on the launch, GamCare states as follows on its website:

The new Industry Code for the Display of Safer Gambling Information sets out how online gambling businesses can make information about safer gambling tools and specialist gambling support services more prominent, visible, and consistent for online customers, ensuring resources and services are clear and easy to access.

According to Gambling Commission data, participation in online gambling activities has increased during the pandemic with a month-on-month increase of 6% in active accounts and 12% in bets. In light of this, and the ongoing national lockdown, the Commission has urged gambling businesses to be extra vigilant as people will be spending more time at home and online, and may feel more vulnerable as a result of the length and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic period.

It is estimated that less than 5% of those affected by gambling harms across Great Britain currently access gambling support services1. Information on how to access these services, as well as how to access tools such as deposit limits and time outs, is not currently displayed in a consistent, accessible format across gambling apps and websites. While there has been around a 14% increase in customers implementing safer gambling tools during the pandemic, there is still more that can be done to ensure the majority of customers easily know how to access these tools, and further support if needed.

Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, says:

“We know that only a small proportion of people affected by gambling harms in Great Britain come forward for support each year. By setting minimum standards for the display of safer gambling information for the online sector, we are looking to improve the consistency of information display, and reduce friction for customers so that they can readily access tools to help them manage their gambling, and to access free, specialist support whenever it might be needed.”

GamCare has consulted with Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) members to create the Code, as well as consulting GamCare service users with lived experience of gambling harms and support services. All BGC members offering online gambling activities are expected to comply with the Code within six months.

Brigid Simmonds, Chair at the Betting and Gaming Council, says:

Consistency of message and display is vital, so that customers who sign up to an account with any BGC member find it’s easy to view links to the National Gambling Helpline and further support, or the company’s own messaging around setting deposit limits, how to self-exclude or asking their bank to block gambling payments. Prominent, visible and accessible signposting displayed in a simple way will help our customers and increase use of such tools, which is why we welcome the new GamCare Code.”

Commenting further on the BGC website in a blog entitled “New GamCare Code Places the Customer at the Heart of Safer Gambling Commitments”, Brigid Simmonds says:

The Government’s Gambling Review continues, but that doesn’t mean that all other work on promoting safer gambling is put on hold.

GamCare’s new Industry Code for the Display of Safer Gambling Information, which has been developed in consultation with BGC members, GamCare service users and other gambling support services, launches today. All BGC members are expected to adhere to the code by August 31, 2021.

The code aims to provide customers with easy access to straightforward, well signposted tools and support in a way which is consistent across all platforms.

According to the Government, the rate of problem gambling is 0.5 per cent and has been steady for the last 20 years. But one gambler experiencing harm is one too many, which is why this code is so important.

Under the code, safer gambling information must be displayed in a primary position on navigation menus and in the customer account section, as well as within space allocated for promotion or advertising.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the BGC published a 10-pledge action plan setting out the standards expected of our members during lockdown. The top pledge was to increase the number of safer gambling messages on websites and directly to customers. As a result, the number of such messages on betting sites has more than doubled, while the number sent directly to individual customers has gone up by 150 per cent. It is important that the messages and interventions are eye catching and change over time so they cannot be ignored, but central messages such as set deposit limits, and join online groups or chatrooms, will help everyone.

Equally important as safer gambling messages are details of how to contact the National Gambling Helpline, how to self-exclude from all gambling spending, opt out of advertising, and, through the banks, to stop gambling payments. Prominent, visible and accessible signposting will help all customers and be even more effective if they are consistent, no matter which site they are using, even if they are customers of several different companies.

When the Betting and Gaming Council first launched as the standards body for the regulated industry at the end of 2019, we published a number of safer gambling commitments. We now have a VIP Code for higher value customers, which has reduced the number by over 70 per cent. We have also introduced new rules to further prevent under-18s seeing betting ads online, while the whistle to whistle ban has reduced the number of TV betting commercials seen by children during live sport by 97 per cent.

A new Games Design Code has led to slower spin speeds, more checks on players and improved access to safer gambling information, and just last month, we introduced a new code of conduct aimed at preventing football clubs from using their official social media accounts to promote gambling offers.

I am proud that we have achieved so much – but there is more still to do to further improve standards and tackle problem gambling. Our support for the GamCare Industry Code for the Display of Safer Gambling Information is further evidence of our commitment to this vitally important work.