Gambling Commission: Harrison looks to the year ahead

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In an excerpt from a speech given at ICE Totally Gaming 2017, Gambling Commission chief executive, Sarah Harrison, spoke on the changes the industry has seen in the last 12 months, and the state of it going forward.

In gambling in the UK, some things have changed a lot in the last year and some have stayed very much the same – perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen arises from significant merger and acquisition activity in the year – deals which came through, such as Betfair and Paddy Power and then Ladbrokes and Coral, and those that did not.

Most market analysts point to the trend in corporate transactions continuing into the future. We’ve also witnessed operators coming under increased, and in my view, timely regulatory scrutiny for how they treat customers (CMA), handle their personal data (ICO) and protect the licensing objectives in relation to crime and social responsibility (GC).

We’ve seen the publication of a new national responsible gambling strategy and the relaunch of GambleAware, as an independent led charity, and a focal point for research, education and treatment in Great Britain. And of course some things have remained the same. Debates around gaming machines – allocation, stakes, prizes, social responsibility and gambling advertising have continued.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport, with our support, will be looking to tackle these issues during 2017. As with any business sector, the gambling industry’s longer-term sustainability is hugely reliant on trust – a recognition that customers using products and services are valued, respected and treated fairly.

Respect in this context, manifests itself in a number of ways: how operators write and present terms and conditions, how they handle complaints, how they act towards consumers who are vulnerable and so on.

Building consumer trust and confidence are key themes for the Commission, as we develop our forward strategy over the coming year we are fortunate in that we have a strong basis of the licensing objectives on which to build – keeping gambling safe, fair and free from crime.

As well as the Gambling review, an important focus for the year will be the National Lottery and the lottery market. While I have not dwelt on the lottery in this speech it is a key priority for the Commission.

The challenge here is to apply the regulatory framework in a way that maintains the integrity of the National Lottery, and protects consumers, while creating incentives for the Lottery operator, Camelot to grow sales and contributions to good causes. Contributions that are fundamental to sporting, cultural and community projects across the UK.

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