Gambling Commission reaches out to operators to head up new focus group initiative

Neil McArthur Gambling Commission operator focus group
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The gambling watchdog has appointed industry heavyweights SG Gaming, Playtech and others to get their heads around some of the thorniest obstacles in the provision of socially responsible gambling.

 

In an unprecedented move, the Gambling Commission has teamed up with some of the biggest businesses in betting and gaming to form three bespoke focus groups, which the watchdog says will help to tackle some of the biggest obstacles in ensuring player safety within the gambling industry.

The working groups will each be led by senior industry professionals, and will be tasked with finding regulatory solutions to exploitation within VIP player incentive schemes, online advertising and responsible product design.

The development comes months on from a briefing to industry heads made by Commission chief executive Neil McArthur in October, in which he outlined all three subject matters as posing unique “challenges” to the UK’s regulatory landscape – arguing that it was incumbent on operators to “grasp to raise standards and reduce harm across the sector.”

Representatives from Sky Betting and Gaming have been tasked with heading up the focus group on online betting advertising, whilst executives from GVC is to lead the industry group introspective on VIP inducements.

From the manufacturing sector, meanwhile, personnel from SG Gaming and Playtech have agreed to chair the collaboration focusing on the production of a workable industry code for responsible product design. In a statement issued this week, a spokesperson for the Gambling Commission said that the primary objectives of this group would include “setting out how the gambling industry can produce safer products in the future, the techniques to use when designing apps, online games and gaming machine products, the risks associated with each product and how they can be mitigated, and a clear explanation of what is not acceptable.”

For his own part meanwhile, McArthur has said that the wider collective effort was mandated by the pace of change within the gambling economy across both technological and sociological lines, and spoke of being “encouraged” in the speed and degree of industry uptake in the new initiative.

“Consumer behaviour and technology are changing so quickly that only a bold and innovative approach will allow us to achieve a reduction in the numbers of people experiencing, or at risk from, gambling related harm,” he said. “I’ve been encouraged by the willingness of so many operators to work with us on these challenges. We’ve set demanding timetable for progress because we cannot proceed at the speed of the slowest. If rapid progress is not made then we will have to look at other options, as making gambling safer for consumers is paramount.”


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