It’s nearly a year now since William Hill set out its corporate objective ‘Nobody Harmed by Gambling’ seeking to “eradicate problem gambling within the UK”. A very ambitious aim but one which William Hill appears committed to maintain, based on a speech given by its Director of Strategy and Sustainability, Lyndsay Wright, at last month’s KnowNow Player Protection Forum event, at which both David Clifton and Suzanne Davies spoke and which David also chaired.
As we have previously reported, on 19 June 2019, under the heading “Bookmakers pledge £100m to avoid gambling crackdown”, the BBC reported on a letter from William Hill, Coral Ladbroke, Betfair Paddy Power, Skybet and bet365 to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in which they offered to increase their voluntary RET (i.e. research, education and treatment of problem gambling) donations from 0.1% of their respective GGY to 1% over the next five years, stating “we are committing to collaborate to address gambling-related harm with the priority of protecting the young and vulnerable.”
Now, following the launch in January 2019 of its global responsible gambling campaign, Changing for the Bettor, GVC Holdings has just published its 2018/19 ‘Fair Play – Corporate Social Responsibility Report’ setting out how it proposes to build on that strategy in order to achieve its ambition is to be the safest and most trusted operator in the world. That report can be downloaded below.
Publication of GVC’s report came on the same day that NHS England announced that the first NHS gambling clinic for children will open this year as part of a new network of services for addicts being rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. The announcement (that can also be downloaded below) states that:
Up to 14 new NHS clinics are being opened – starting with the NHS Northern Gambling Service in Leeds this summer, followed by Manchester and Sunderland. The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London will also offer specialist help for children and young people aged 13 to 25 as part of an expansion which will also ramp up treatment for adults.
The cynical may say that operators such as William Hill and GVC are fighting a rearguard action in an attempt to avoid imposition of a mandatory levy on licensed gambling operators to fund research, education and treatment (“RET”) of problem gambling. This topic featured in David Clifton’s Licensing Expert article for SBC News last month (entitled “UK stakeholders point towards ‘safety first’ approach to player protection”).
However, we suggest that a more constructive reaction is to accept these significant developments as clear markers of a shift in position on the part of leading operators over the last 12 months to set an example for others to follow, with a view to not only improving standards designed to achieve the safer gambling objectives set by the Gambling Commission but also to help restore public trust in the UK gambling industry.