UK Regulator Targets Six Areas To Strengthen Evidence Base

May 25, 2023
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The UK Gambling Commission has outlined six areas where it intends to improve the evidence base for regulatory change over the next three years, as part of what it calls a new “aspirational” programme.

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The UK Gambling Commission has outlined six areas where it intends to improve the evidence base for regulatory change over the next three years, as part of what it calls a new “aspirational” programme.

The regulator published its “evidence gaps and priorities 2023 to 2026” on May 23.

Areas that will be focused on are early gambling experiences and gateway products, the range and variability of gambling experiences, gambling-related harms and vulnerability, the impact of operator practices, product characteristics and risk, and illegal gambling and crime.

All six of the areas can be mapped to the Gambling Commission’s “Path to Play”, which identifies stages that are present in each gambling journey, reflecting the need for “further research covering the breadth of the customer journey”, according to the priorities.

Tim Miller, executive director of research and policy, said that with the Gambling Act review white paper now published, “it’s clear that the next few years give a real opportunity to make decisive progress towards gambling in Great Britain being safer, fairer and crime-free”.

“If we can all play our part in addressing the evidence gaps identified, I know we will have the tools to make the most of that opportunity,” Miller said.

Although the latest publication has set out the “direction of travel” the regulator is heading in, the priorities will be constantly revisited and refreshed in a reactive manner, responding to emerging findings from across the gambling research ecosystem, the regulator said.

The Gambling Commission explained there is a need to better understand the impact of measures aimed to prevent or reduce harm, as well as a need to be “proportionate” and consider it “can be pragmatic and realistic (both in terms of resource and time) in delivering good evaluations”.

The regulator is aware of “significant challenges” to make progress “in an ethical, robust manner and with pace”, which will “ultimately be dictated by the resource available”.

“We have purposefully developed our evidence themes in a way that allows work to be scaled up or scaled down should our capacity change. It will also be driven by the wider ecosystem’s capacity to make the most of the data and resources available to it, and ability to work collaboratively to ensure that our collective knowledge is the true sum of what we separately know,” the Gambling Commission said.

Separately, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has praised the “ambition” of the Gambling Act review white paper and the steps it takes to improve funding for research, affordability checks and stake limits for online slots.

However, the NIESR warns that the white paper’s insistence on more consultation “overshadows” the positive steps taken to minimise the harms of problem gambling.

“The risk of more talk, especially given it has taken three years to get this white paper out, is yet more debates that distract us from the issue at heart and impose more costly delays to action. It means more debates over the technicalities of gambling harm rather than the issue itself,” the NIESR wrote in its evaluation of the white paper.

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