During the Westminster Media Forum Gambling Regulation Conference on Monday, Andrew Rhodes, the CEO of the Gambling Commission, which is the gambling regulator in the UK, revealed details regarding the impact of gambling on society in the country. He spoke about key points related to the growth of the industry and urged operators to join forces with the GC in making gambling activities in the UK safer and fairer.
UKGC’s Boss, Andrew Rhodes, Speaks about the Challenges of the Growing Gambling Industry
The government in the UK launched the review of the 2005 Gambling Act back in December 2020. The review sought to update the gambling law in line with the growing online market and address key points such as gambling harm reduction. Acknowledging that the review of the Gambling Act is “getting closer,” Rhodes stressed that the GC will not stand by and use the delay as an excuse. The white paper following the review of the gambling law was initially expected this spring but was then delayed.
“I have to believe it is possible to have a successful and innovative gambling industry that provides something its consumers want but can do so in a responsible way, eradicating the inexcusable excesses we still see today, and expanding the good practice we also see,”said Andrew Rhodes, CEO of the Gambling Commission
Regardless, according to Rhodes, the GC will remain true to the goal of making the market safer and fairer. He explained: “We don’t accept that, we don’t accept that anything should come before making sure you are trading as fair and as safe as possible. All the rest should be secondary.” Rhodes pointed out he believes in the success of an innovative gambling industry that is able to offer responsible play and reduce gambling harm. He acknowledged that there are operators that understand the importance of a safe and fair industry and said that the GC will continue to work with such operators. However, Rhodes warned operators that offer services without a license or disagree with responsible gambling practices in the UK.
Gamblification Raises Concerns but the GC Remains Vigilant against Breaches of Rules
Another key point raised by GC’s CEO was regarding the gamblification of products. He revealed that loot boxes in video games have already gotten the attention of lawmakers. With that in mind, Rhodes said that the GC is also concerned “about where NFTs, crypto and “synthetic shares” are becoming increasingly widespread and the boundaries between products which can be defined and regulated as gambling are becoming increasingly blurred.”
“So overall, when we look at today’s gambling market, we see an incredibly energetic and innovative industry, one that is still grappling with the effects of the pandemic, which is still looking for areas to grow,“explained Rhodes
According to Rhodes, the effect of the pandemic is still present, which is one of the reasons why the gambling industry in the country continues to grow. He stressed that with the growth of the industry come fears of potential harm. Referring to “unregulated spaces,” Rhodes said that some companies that are trying to make fast money from gambling harm.
“We can have a level playing field of repeated failures and hefty enforcement action throughout the industry, or we can have a level playing field of compliant licensees who protect their customers and keep crime out of gambling,”added Rhodes
Outlining that only 0.2% of the population suffers from problem gambling, Rhodes said that this is a good sign. Even though, he said that the figure must be “cautiously welcomed.” The Commission’s CEO revealed that there are online and land-based operators that continue to fail the regulation which in turn impacts the customers. He reaffirmed that the GC remains on the lookout for bad practices and breaches of the rules.