The Gambling Commission’s Sarah Gardner highlights enhanced sustainability

turned on gray laptop computer
turned on gray laptop computer

The British Gambling Commission’s deputy chief executive told Bacta’s annual convention the regulator and industry would achieve fairer and safer gambling.

UK.- In a speech to the amusement trade association Bacta’s annual conference, Sarah Gardner, deputy chief executive of the Gambling Commission, highlighted the industry and the regulator’s aims to achieve a more sustainable gambling sector.

She said that following the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gambling Commission was “more focused than ever before on our remit to make gambling fairer, safer and crime free” and planned to make faster progress on raising standards by collaborating with the industry instead of punishing it for failings.

She highlighted the contributions of the regulator’s industry working groups to the introduction of enhanced due diligence checks on high-value customers, age-gating on social media ads and limits for slot spin speeds.

She said: “This is the relationship we want with industry in the pursuit of ever fairer and safer gambling. We want to get to that, we want to get to a place where the level of harm caused by gambling is reducing, helped by a constructive and collaborative relationship with industry.”

She also made reference to recent figures that suggested a fall in the rate of problem gambling in the UK, which fell from 0.6 per cent in September 2020 to 0.3 per cent this year, but noted that Public Health England estimates the cost of that harm to be £1.27bn a year.

She said: “We cautiously welcome these numbers but it’s important to remember that these are a churning, changing group of people as well. There is nothing static about who is suffering harm.”

She added: “So gambling is normal, but harm must not be. We will continue to work to drive the levels of harm down.”

She warned that too many operators were still failing to follow the Gambling Commission’s regulations, hindering the regulator’s relationship with the industry. 

Future action from the Gambling Commission

Gardner didn’t say when the government white paper on its ongoing review of gambling legislation was expected, but said it was “getting closer”. 

However, she confirmed that the Gambling Commission intended to develop a single customer view for all online gambling operators, requiring operators to improve the way they share information.

She said: “Further investment will be essential for the Commission to both realise the potential and manage the risks that come from regulating an industry where technology is changing all the time. However, all the investment in the world will not deliver a more effective Gambling Commission if the data we receive from operators is lacking.”

The amusement gaming sector

As for the amusement sector, Gardner praised operators for banning minors from using Category D machines, but said more work was needed to prevent minors from playing.

The regulator is developing a new code on responsible game design in partnership with Bacta. Gardner also supported the idea of cashless payments for amusement and high street gaming, particularly digital wallets.

She said: “This technology provides a format where players can set limits on their spend and keep track of their machine spend over time. So we want to hear from any operator trialling them or using them on how it’s going.”

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