As the UK Safer Gambling Week 2021 begins, new data from an affiliate compliance monitoring company has revealed the vast majority of affiliate URLs fail to include safer gambling messaging.
Only 52,331 (4.36 percent) out of 1.2m scanned affiliate URLs included safer gambling messaging and not just a link to BeGambleAware, according to data provided by Mitigatr.
A separate scan this week by Mitigatr using the same deep crawling technology revealed only 46,544 (3.88 percent) of the same amount of URLs are linking to the website of Safer Gambling Week.
“I was surprised by these results. It reflects the reality that the same small number of affiliates take compliance seriously, whereas a vast majority of them do not,” Mitigatr co-founder Astan Morarji told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
The troubling data follows criticism of Safer Gambling Week by charity Gambling With Lives CEO Will Prochaska, who called it “the political cringe event” in a recently published op-ed.
Prochaska said the reason gambling firms are so keen to promote Safer Gambling Week is because “there is no credible evidence that safer gambling messages reduce gambling”.
Criticism from Gambling With Lives and other campaigners appears to have done little to blunt the wave of industry support for the campaign. Social media platforms were littered with gambling industry stakeholders promoting the initiative on Monday.
David Clifton of Clifton Davies Consultancy told VIXIO that Gambling With Lives “undertakes excellent work” and was “hardly likely to be a natural supporter of the gambling industry”.
However, he said it was “a shame” the charity’s views were not “tempered”, as he believes there is a “distinctly positive” benefit from the promotion of safer gambling messaging that accompanies the campaign.
“It would be an equal shame if any within the industry seeks to celebrate the fact that recent Gambling Commission statistics indicate a reduction in problem gambling rates,” Clifton said.
Instead, Clifton argues both should focus on building upon this week’s safer gambling messages over the next 12 months in the hope the same statistical trend will be seen next year.
Trade group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) vowed in a public post to use the campaign, which has been running since 2017, to build on the number of people using deposit limits through a “blitz” of safer gambling messages.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher said the event is also important for raising awareness of other helpful resources and preventing consumers “drifting off to the unsafe, unregulated black market online”.
The BGC’s post included comments from the Gambling Commission’s chief executive, Andrew Rhodes, who called the campaign “an ideal opportunity” for operators to show players how they are raising consumer protection standards.
Gambling minister Chris Philp also called the event “an important moment for the industry” to prevent gambling-related harms and promote safer gambling.
In a separate blog post, William Hill’s head of safer gambling, Gemma Burge, explained the campaign is not a “box-ticking exercise”.
Instead, Burge said she sees it as a vital opportunity for the industry to be on the same page when it comes to responsible gambling.
“Safer Gambling Week is an excellent chance for us to take a temperature check, to see what we are doing internally, what works well, what we can do better and ensure that those lessons are weaved into everything we do,” Burge said.