In an excerpt from her speech at the Raising Standards conference, GC chief executive Sarah Harrison lays out her vision for the British gambling industry.
This event is focused on raising standards and you will have noted that the title of this speech is ‘Accelerating the pace of change’.
So why the urgency? What’s the rush? Aren’t we moving in the right direction?
The simple answer is that we think more could be done to put consumers at the heart of everything the operator does, and at a faster pace – whether that is commercial gambling operators or the National Lottery operator.
That’s not to say some of you aren’t heading in the right direction. You are. And that is to be recognised.
But our view remains that whilst recent licence and code changes, enforcement action and compliance work are having an impact; the pace of change within the industry needs to quicken.
But let’s be clear, a sharper focus on consumers is not peculiar to the gambling industry. This (new) Government has put a focus on issues of consumer welfare and social justice. In her conference speech the Prime Minister talked about the spirit of citizenship, about the need for industry – all industries – to make a commitment to those who buy the goods and services that they sell. And where markets are dysfunctional, then the Government will intervene.
We all have to face up and recognise, it’s a consumer landscape. Whilst for some this will be a significant challenge, it also provides an exciting opportunity to take this industry forward. I am ambitious for us as an organisation – I want us to be the most respected gambling regulator in the world. But, I am ambitious for you too, your businesses and your sector – I want you to be the most trusted gambling operators in the world.
Where competing with each other means providing the best service, as well as the best odds. Where effective complaints systems are driven by a recognition of the value of consumer feedback, not by a half-hearted compliance with an obligation. Where licence and code obligations set the minimum benchmark and not an artificial cap on businesses reaching to improve and exceed these. Where other sectors seek to emulate the customer service standards of your industry, maybe even where the likes of John Lewis looks to one of you to learn how to improve their customer offer!
That’s my ambition: for gambling consumers in Britain to have trust and confidence. Yes, that they will get the best prices and the best experience, but also that they will be well informed; treated fairly at all times; and kept safe, in particular those who are vulnerable to the risks and reality of gambling-related harm. In the same way, National Lottery players need to have confidence in how the Lottery is run so that it is fair, players are safe and, subject to those considerations, that it makes as much money as possible for good causes across the UK.