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Fiona Simmons August 3, 2023 3 min read
Harm Expert Griffiths: Affordability Checks May Channel Players toward the Black Market
OLBG discussed affordability checks, one of the hot topics in British gaming, with the professor
Blanket measures risk alienating responsible British players and driving them to the black market. This is what Mark Griffiths, one of the most prominent researchers of problem gambling, believes.
A chartered psychologist and distinguished professor of Behavioral Addiction at Nottingham Trent University, as well as the director of the International Gaming Research Unit, Griffiths had some things to say about the Gambling Act white paper. In an exclusive interview with OLBG, Griffiths shared his thoughts on some of the measures outlined in the paper, expressing his skepticism about some of them.
Griffiths explained that the idea behind affordability checks, one of the white paper’s most controversial measures, isn’t inherently bad. However, applying it to everyone may end up having an adverse effect, the expert warned.
The affordability checks envisioned by the white paper would call for intervention once customers lose certain amounts of money in a certain period of time.
According to Griffiths, the sum a person can afford to spend is a more important metric than an arbitrary value. However, this means that the UKGC may require licensed companies “to dig into people’s personal finances.” Griffiths noted that many consumers may not want to divulge this information.
This is further proven by an OLBG study that showed that 67% of a sample of 1,007 respondents would not feel comfortable sharing personal information with gambling companies.
Griffiths Believes Alternative Solutions Are Needed
As an author of multiple books, chapters and peer-reviewed research papers on problem gambling, Griffiths believes that some gamblers would prefer to play with an offshore operator than share sensitive information with a licensed company. According to him, this would “displace the problem.”
Instead, the expert believes that it would be better to introduce mandatory self-imposed time and money limits. This way, players will be able to individually determine their limits.
If gamblers set these limits in the cold light of day based on what they can afford, it doesn’t matter how problematic an activity could be because once they’ve hit their limit, they can no longer gamble.Mark Griffiths
Griffiths added that the introduction of mandatory play breaks may also be useful in preventing gambling harm since high-frequency activities are more often associated with harm.
The expert concluded that the United Kingdom has fairly low problem gambling rates, currently sitting at 0.3%, based on the UKGC’s latest publication. This means that the overwhelming majority of British players are playing safely and responsibly.
Griffiths noted that the problem gambling rates have remained low despite the vast diversification of gambling and betting content over the past few years. The expert also pointed out that not all problem players are gambling addicts, making the topic much more nuanced.
The full interview is available on OLBG’s official website.