Releasing its business plan for the year ahead, the Gambling Commission has called for contributions from the industry to help develop its long-term strategy. All good so far. But will they actually listen?
The Gambling Commission has published its business plan for 2017-18, inviting industry members to have their say on the longer-term strategy.
In its announcement, the body reiterated its five aims for the new financial year, each drawn from the tried and tested definitions laid out by the regulator year after year.
But whilst this mantra has been chanted many times before, the Commission was clear to add that it is looking forward at future plans and has issued a call for key stakeholders to help shape its three-year strategy.
The question for most in the industry, however, is how far will this listening process go? GC chairman William Moyes was quick to counter this point: “By no means are we starting from scratch with our long-term strategy, but we are calling on all our stakeholders to share their views about how we and our partners can have the greatest impact for consumers – who are at the heart of everything we do at the Commission.”
Consumers, the industry and public bodies are invited to contribute to the plan by completing an online form before May 5.
“These highly valued contributions will help us to continue to improve how we deliver our core responsibilities,” added Moyes. “There is also a need to build and maintain consumer trust against the backdrop of changing consumer behaviour. To do this, we wish to encourage the industry to be increasingly innovative to continue to keep gambling safe, fair and crime free.’’
In the report, the Commission forecasted it’s expenditure from April 2017 to March 2018 as £19.5m, 7 percent and 5 percent to be funded by the arcade and bingo sectors respectively. This forecast fee income from all sectors represents about 0.2 percent of total industry revenue.
While the report from the Commission focuses on ‘raising standards’, the regulatory body makes no effort at a distinction between the vastly different sectors this applies to.
“Seeking to raise standards in the industry is not simply about ensuring that operators comply with their regulatory obligations,” Sarah Harrison, CEO of the Gambling Commission, stated in the report. “It’s also about encouraging a culture in the industry of going the extra mile to treat consumers fairly, tackle gambling-related harm and maintain public confidence in the integrity of gambling.”
All stick and no carrot, what will likely continue to irritate some sectors of the industry is the insistence of the GC to lump arcades and bingo halls into the deep public-perception challenge faced by both the online and high-street betting operators. Indeed, no other sector in the wider industry has drawn as much bad press and subsequent negative public opinion towards the idea of gambling, a far cry from the entertaining and social experience that the amusements industry has always aimed to present.
So when it comes to having their say, some might suggest that it’s time for the GC to give greater consideration to the individual nuances of the amusements, gaming and gambling industry rather than treat them collectively as one entity.