Can Britain be a World Leader in Safe Gambling?

Safer Gambling week has begun and runs until November 7th. However, the chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Michael Dugher, has stressed that seeing people gamble safely is their “top priority all year round.”

Safer Gambling Week comes at a time when the numbers who have problem gambling are “low and are now falling” according to the BGC chief executive. He believes that is great news and this week is “further evidence of the regulated industry’s determination to keep raising standards.”

A UK Gambling Commission report showed that the rate of those with a gambling problem had fallen from 0.6 percent to 0.3 percent over the past 12 months. Those who are classified as being at “moderate risk” of harm has fallen to 0.7 percent from 1.2 percent last year.

Andrew Rhodes is the chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission. He said that of over 20 million regular gamblers in the UK, around 340,000 people are problem gamblers. The chief executive believes that Safer Gambling Week is an “ideal opportunity” for operators to “demonstrate how they can raise standards and showcase how Britain can become a world-beater in making gambling as safe as possible.”

He accepts the fact that millions enjoy betting on everything from the Grand National to trying to get a full house at their local bingo club or online. The “vast majority” do so “safely and responsibly” but his view is that “one problem gambler is one too many, which is why Safer Gambling Week is so important.”

There are many important messages to put across this week and in the future. One big task is to build on the number of gamblers who use deposit limits. That’s reached the two million mark but Mr Dugher wants that number to climb even higher.

The BGC recently launched the ‘Take Time To Think’ campaign. This has the aim of showing customers how much tools such as time-outs, self-exclusion and deposit limits can help them keep control of their gambling.

Another key task this week is “making sure that those who need help know where they can get it.” Then there’s the subject of the black market. Those who gamble there are not protected against fraud or sites that don’t pay out winnings. Preventing people “drifting off to the unsafe, unregulated black market online” is another message that the BGC want to see put across this week.

It’s not just the bookmakers, online gambling sites, amusement arcades, casinos and bingo clubs working together this week. Safer Gambling Week includes everyone who wants to see people gamble responsibly. That brings the regulator, Government, and cross-party MPs into the equation.

Gambling minister, Chris Philip MP, says the Safer Gambling Week campaign is an “important moment for the industry to come together and continue to do all it can” in the battle against gambling harm.

He added that the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act that he hopes will “ensure our laws are fit for the digital age and strike the right balance between protecting those most at risk and giving adults the freedom to choose how they gamble safely.”