Gambling regulators in Great Britain should focus on the potential harm caused by higher-risk land-based products, as well as strengthen online regulations, according to the analysis of a longitudinal survey of adults aged between 16 and 26.
The analysis by researchers Heather Wardle and Sarah Tipping was published on January 6 and focuses on how problematic gambling severity correlates with engagement with certain gambling products.
Wardle said the findings highlight the mix of products that are most highly associated with PGSI scores among young adults.
“Skin betting emerges as a high-risk product but so too does engagement in electronic gambling machines, including so-called FOBTs even after stakes on them had been reduced to £2,” Wardle told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
“It's right that we focus on better and stronger regulation of online gambling products, but we shouldn't forget higher-risk land-based products too, which include machines in all their guises. Issues of their distribution and concentration should continue to command regulatory attention,” Wardle said.
Data for the online non-probability longitudinal survey was collected in two waves, one in 2019 and the other in 2020, from 2,080 participants in Great Britain.
The message from the researchers comes as gambling industry stakeholders in the UK continue their long wait for the release of the Gambling Act review white paper.
No update on the white paper was provided during the keynote speech given by the Gambling Commission’s deputy chief executive, Sarah Gardner, at an event held by the Danish Gambling Authority (DGA) this week.
Instead, the speech focused on the challenges facing Denmark and how they reflect similar ones in the UK, such as “intense competition” among licensees and emerging technologies such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies.
Mergers and acquisitions were highlighted as having “continued at pace”, with the top three operator groups in Great Britain increasing their market share from around one-third to one-half in just the last five years.
“We think the unstable economic picture across the world — as well as regulatory pressures in some jurisdictions — is helping to keep driving further M&A as we look ahead this year too,” Gardener said.
The Gambling Commission also sees a number of the largest operator groups stating revenues are down due to safer gambling measures they are introducing, including affordability checks.
“We don’t say these operators are getting everything right, we aren’t trying to put them on a pedestal, but when we see operators looking to move their customers away from behaviours that present a higher risk to our licensing objectives? Well, that is something that we are watching with interest,” Gardner said.
Additionally, she lauded the “relentless drive” of the regulator to ensure compliance during a “very busy 2022”, in which 17 operators paid out a total of £45m because of regulatory failures. A further two have had their operating licence suspended because of regulatory concerns.
In comparison, during the 2016/17 financial year, the regulator only took action against three operators that paid out £1.7m for regulatory failures.
Gardner said: “2023 looks like it may continue the recent trend but from what we hear back from industry leaders, we think the message is starting to get through.”