GC: Collaboration with Financial Sector to Reduce Gambling Harm

Neil McArthur, CEO of the UK Gambling Commission, requested the financial sector to do more to support the Commission’s efforts towards a safer gambling environment. The commission’s chief executive outlined the role the sector has in creating a “single customer view”, to facilitate detecting of problem gambling.

Gambling Blocking Software the First Step

Speaking at a virtual conference for financial services professionals, held by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute as a part of a two-year program, Neil McArthur pointed at the introduction of gambling blocking software as an example of how the industry can influence the issue with problem gamblers.

Initially introduced by Starling in 2018, the software which blocks deposits for gambling purposes was soon implemented by many high-street banks such as Barclays, Halifax, Lloyds Bank and HSBC. The software, paired with the creation of a “single customer view” where a client’s activity across all operators is being monitored, can greatly help to make gambling safer, GC’s CEO pointed out.

Aggregated View of Customer Transactions

Neil McArthur noted that the financial services sector already has such an aggregated view on a customer’s transactions, and, as suggested during the discussions in the Experts by Experience working group, “opportunities to protect people are being missed” due to financial operators not questioning their spending with gambling companies.

Set up in June on an interim basis, the Experts by Experience group is seeking to provide insights into the Commission’s efforts to reduce gambling harm, and comprises of people who have directly suffered from it. The group already contributed a lot, Neil McArthur outlined, praising the passion of its members to make a change.

Collaboration with the Financial Sector Key

Collaboration with the financial sector is part of an inherent process which forms part of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harm, the Commission’s CEO highlighted. Furthermore, the issue is complex and requires action by others, such as research to broaden the understanding of the problem, development of appropriate ways to intervene and treat, and education necessary to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Neil McArthur used the occasion to oppose critics of the Commission who oversimplified the matter and placed all responsibility within the regulator. The Gambling Commission has been under fire from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling-Related Harm, branding it “not fit for purpose”, yet reports from the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee found the Commission was severely under-financed to regulate the industry.

The two-year work program the virtual conference took place as a part of, was funded through a regulatory settlement, a penalty on an operator for a breach of its license conditions and codes of practice.

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