BGC announces Safer Gambling Week 2021

Safer Gambling Week will take place between November 1 and 7.
Safer Gambling Week will take place between November 1 and 7.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced that this year’s Safer Gambling Week will take place between November 1 and 7.

UK.- The British industry association the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced the date for this year’s Safer Gambling Week in the UK and Ireland.

The annual initiative, held in cooperation with the Bingo Association and the gaming centre association Bacta, will run from November 1 to 7. 

Launched in 2017, the cross-industry campaign sees operators collaborate to put out safer gambling messages both online and at land-based venues. 

All parts of the regulated betting and gaming industry encourage staff, customers and the general public to talk about and raise awareness of responsible betting.

Last year’s Safer Gambling Week largely took place online due to Covid-19 restrictions across the UK, but the BGC insists that it was a huge success all the same. 

Social media impressions related to the campaign reached 19 million, an increase of 19 per cent from 2019. At the same time, the number of visits to the Safer Gambling Week website during last year’s initiative were up by 18 per cent.

BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “As the standards body representing the regulated betting and gaming industry, the BGC is delighted to support Safer Gambling Week 2021.

“Last year’s event was a huge success despite the pandemic and, with the prospect of betting shops and casinos being open when this year’s takes place, I’m sure Safer Gambling Week 2021 will be even better.

“Our members already demonstrate their commitment to safer gambling through things like increased funding for research, education and treatment, the whistle to whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sport and strict ID and age verification checks.”

Miles Baron, CEO of The Bingo Association, remarked: “Safer Gambling Week is an important part of the bingo industry’s commitment to social responsibility and provides a useful focal point for highlighting activity and support that is available throughout the year. 

“As venue-based businesses, the sector recognises the important opportunity we have to promote safer gambling messages and engage directly with customers.”

Bacta CEO John White said: “Safer Gambling Week once again allows the industry to showcase its year-long commitment to safer gambling. It also brings customer focus to the tools that are available to them if they in any way feel their gambling is becoming problematic.  

“Those tools continue to grow as we learn more about safer gambling and form part of our ambition to cement social responsibility at the heart of our offer to the consumer.”

British gaming operators increase safer gambling messages

Dugher also highlighted the work the industry has done to increase the number of responsible gaming messages put out since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

BGC members have reported an increase in the number of customers using safer gambling tools, for example setting deposit limits or using self-exclusion tools. The BGC argues this is proof of the success of Safer Gambling Week.

Dugher said: “During the pandemic, we have also seen the number of safer gambling messages on betting websites more than double, while direct interventions where customers have been spending more time and money betting than before Covid have increased by 25 per cent.

“Safer Gambling Week is a great opportunity to highlight this fantastic work – and emphasises the difference between the regulated industry and the unlicensed and illegal online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are commonplace among our members.”

Earlier this year, a study commissioned by the responsible gambling charity GambleAware found that interventions through social media and altered signup processes can encourage igaming players to take up safer gambling tools. However, the study found no effect on outcomes such as deposit amounts and on the length of play.

Meanwhile, the responsible gambling charity GamCare has called for gaming operators to adopt its revised safer gambling standard.

BGC welcomes reopening of British casinos and bingo halls

This week the UK has entered the next stage of its roadmap out of Covid-19 lockdowns, with casinos, bingo halls and adult gaming centres allowed to reopen from Monday.

Venues had been closed for at least four months since the implementation of a new national lockdown in the winter. Many were closed for longer under a previous tiered system of restrictions.

Casinos were severely impacted even when they were last able to open due to a 10pm curfew that was imposed before the last round of lockdowns.

The curfew no longer applies to casinos in England, but casinos in Scotland must close at 10.30pm and must not serve alcohol. 

Chief executive Michael Dugher said: “It’s great news that most of the UK’s casinos are finally able to re-open – and is a testament to the hard work that staff have put in making them Covid-secure.

“As well as providing excellent entertainment for their customers, casinos are a major contributor to the UK economy, something which will be vital in the months ahead as the government tries to repair the damage done to the nation’s finances by Covid-19.”

Betting shops in the UK reopened last month but were subject to a range of conditions, including a ban on screening live sport, the removal of chairs and tables and a maximum of two gaming machines to be turned on. 

Customers were limited to two visits per day, no longer than 15 minutes at a time, and shops had to close at 8pm.

Under the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the UK this week, most of those conditions have been relaxed, although customers must still wear face masks and capacity remains limited.

In Scotland, the live screening of sports was already allowed when betting shops reopened on April 26, but all gaming machines had to be turned off. Machines may now be switched on as of yesterday. 

The latest easing of restrictions in the UK also allows restaurants and bars to reopen indoor spaces, while cinemas, hotels, museums, sports venues and theatres can also resume trade.

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