Safer Gambling Week Closes As UK In Chaos

October 21, 2022
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​​​​​​​European Safer Gambling Week 2022 draws to a close this weekend amid the unsightly distraction of a UK government in chaos.

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European Safer Gambling Week 2022 draws to a close this weekend amid the unsightly distraction of a UK government in chaos.

UK-focused gambling operators may not have been expecting the white paper that will guide an update of the 2005 Gambling Act any time soon, but Liz Truss’ resignation yesterday (October 20) after only 44 days will certainly not speed up the process.

Still, Safer Gambling Week in Europe was a distraction from political turmoil.

The annual event is led by the Betting and Gaming Council, the Bingo Association and BACTA, the amusements trade group, with pan-European group the European Gaming and Betting Association holding cross-border activities.

The UK event had to compete with high drama at 10 Downing Street and in the UK's Parliament, but Safer Gambling Week drew some controversy of its own.

Will Prochaska, strategy director for Gambling With Lives, criticised “the embarrassing and dangerous industry charade that is Safer Gambling Week”.

In a PoliticsHome piece, he claimed responsible gambling efforts heap the responsibility for problem gambling on the gambler rather than the companies that spend megabucks enticing bettors.

But BGC chief executive Michael Dugher responded: “I know there will always be some people who don’t like gambling. But it is sad to see how some ‘campaigners’ — anti-gambling prohibitionists who’s default position is just to call for things to be banned — have publicly condemned Safer Gambling Week”.

“Even if you don’t like betting, how can anyone be against safer gambling?” the former Labour member of parliament wrote in another PoliticsHome piece.

Sky Bet ran a “mythbusters” campaign that tried to counter common fallacies such as that extra knowledge about sports will help bettors win their bets.

“No one can predict the outcome of a game, fight, race or match,” the company said. “Just because your team have won three in a row is no guarantee they’ll win the fourth.”

And gambling more does not mean players will be able to recoup their losses, the Flutter Entertainment brand said.

“Actually,” Sky Bet said, “the more you gamble, the more likely it is that you’ll lose more money. The odds are always in favour of the bookie.”

Entain’s “Sustain” responsible gambling event in east London this week touted the success of its Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) initiative, which it says has so far led to more than 1m interactions and interventions with 400,000 players in 22 of its 30 markets.

The programme has led to five times the usage of safer gambling tools by higher-risk players compared with low-risk, and three times the usage by medium-risk players, the company said.

A GamCare presentation highlighted Entain’s safer gambling standards, with a Level Three status for online and Level Two for retail gambling.

Not mentioned until the end was Entain’s £17m August UK regulatory settlement for failings in social-responsibility and anti-money laundering failings, the largest ever for the Gambling Commission.

The settlement was from the 2019-2020 period, and “many of our processes and policies have changed hugely”, said chief governance officer Rob Hoskin. “I appreciate there will be a few eyebrows raised.”

In Amsterdam, at a safer gambling event run by Kindred, the chief executive of Sweden’s partly state-owned racing company ATG said following legislative requirements is the minimum, “but on top of that, we add stuff to show customers we are responsible”.

Hans Lord Skarplöth called for players to be able to set their own limits, rather than the government.

“Society does not trust us and we deserve that,” Lord Skarplöth said. “But I know we are better than we are perceived.”

Additional reporting by Harrison Sayers.

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