During the CMS Conference, UKGC executive director Tim Miller said that the past year has been challenging, but now is the moment to build momentum and make gambling safer and fairer.
Gambling Must Become Safer and Fairer
On March 30, 2021, during the CMS Conference speech, which was virtual for the first time, UKGC executive director Tim Miller said that now is the moment to build momentum. It is time to make gambling safer and fairer. Miller focused extensively on the current situation of the industry and shared the plan for the coming year.
At the beginning of his speech, he commented on the pandemic and how incredibly challenging the past year has been for everyone, not just the gambling industry. In his opening words, he said that the pandemic affected everyone. It has changed the way people gamble, although that process had begun before the pandemic.
Miller commented on the outstanding work of former chief executive Neil McArthur. He said that in the past couple of years, McArthur primarily focused on safer gambling, not only through banning credit cards and extensive verification checks but also through making products safer by design.
Benefits and Challenges of the Industry’s Growth
Online gambling grew so much in the past years that it now accounts for more than 50% of the total Gross Gambling Yield, Miller said. Besides its benefits, it has also created new challenges for the way people gamble. For example, compliance work could come as a disadvantage in terms of customer experience and safer gambling. It will take some time for businesses to adjust, and realign for the new integration of the compliance systems.
Miller cited the data of the problem gambling rate in 2020, which was 0.3%. For reference it was 0.6% in 2019, 0.5% in 2018 and 0.6% in 2017, and 0.7% in 2016.
As everyone in the industry says that the review of the Gambling act must be evidence-led, CMS will focus on filling the evidential gaps with a broader range of statistics. It will continue to monitor and assess the problem gambling rates. The improvement shown in the data should suit as an incentive to build momentum in making gambling safer.
During the Westminster Policy Forum Event, Ben Dean, director of sports and gambling at DCMS, stated that the UK may not see an implementation of any changes on the Gambling Act 2005 until 2022. He said the review needs a bigger picture of the industry.
Miller commented on some of the improvements that followed the online review, like ID verification requirements, banning gambling on credit cards, Annual Assurance Statements introduction, and strengthening the ADR system. In 2017 and 2018, were issued over £100 million in penalty packages, and 10 operators had their licenses revoked since then.
What Does the Future for the Industry Hold?
The National Strategic Assessment (NSA) has helped lay the foundations for future actions in the industry in the upcoming years. CMS will focus on identifying and acting on indications of harm, affordability, vulnerability, and making gambling products safer by design. In terms of regulation, it will seek to ban harmful features that give the illusion of control, speed up play or mislead the player into losing track of time.
CMS Corporate Strategy and Business Plan
Miller said that the Corporate Strategy and Business plan for the upcoming years are going to be published later this week. CMS understands the challenges the operators have to face to respond to the current demand on the market. However, fairness and protection are a vital part of the evolution of products and services and should be the main focus of the businesses’ plans.
The Corporate strategy will focus on vulnerable customers and children protection, fairness in the market, keeping the industry crime-free, gambling regulation improvement, enhanced player protection through operator compliance, and optimizing returns to good causes from the National Lottery.
Just days ago, Camelot was urged to explain its advertisements in the Parliamentary magazine The House. APPG MPs raised their concerns against the operator in a letter to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). They asked how the advertisements in the magazine promote the National Lottery to increase funding for good causes.
In terms of customer interaction, the commission plans to work on cases of people gambling amounts beyond their means, with limited customer interaction until the very late stage. CMS plans to clarify the rules and asks operators to check how they assess and interact with gamblers at risk. CMS will take a closer look at consumer fairness and customer funds protection. Tackling the issue with unlicensed operators and harm from illegal gambling will also be one of the main issues to focus on. CMS will enforce action and implement requirements of the 5th Money Laundering Directive. CMS will continue to work with operators and focus on prevention, despite challenges along the way, and keep building on momentum.