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GamCare: Affordability focus shift to be a ‘big change’ for the industry

As the never ending story of the consistently delayed white paper rumbles on through the walls of Westminster, GamCare’s Head of Industry Standards, Dan Whitlam, still has his sights set on how changes to affordability will impact player protection.

At the time SBC News spoke to Whitlam, the review had been delayed once again, with the publication of the white paper expected in July – two months later, the judgement has again been postponed due to Conservative political turmoil.

Speaking earlier this year at SBC’s Betting of Sports Europe, hosted at Twickenham Stadium, Whitlam predicted that, once there is a shift towards affordability – a trend he labels as a vulnerability focus – it is going to be “a big change” for the sector.

He said: “In terms of themes for player protection, affordability has been the big one that’s really going to impact the safer gambling practices within the industry and the whole talk has been around, is there going to be a threshold implemented whereby affordability checks will be mandated. That’s quite a significant change for the industry.

“At the moment, the customer due diligence, enhanced due diligence is very much focused on anti-money laundering, the limits are quite high relative to what’s being talked about around affordability.

“It’s going to be a big change for the industry to shift towards affordability and what’s been called a vulnerability focus.

“Alongside that, obviously there’s been the headline grabbing stuff around the levy, shirt sponsorship, general football & sport advertising, but from our perspective, and my team’s perspective, we’re really interested in what plays through in terms of that affordability and customer vulnerability piece.”

While acknowledging that “about 90 per cent” of GamCare’s work is focused on problem gambling treatment and education, Whitlam explained that his department’s flagship offering in the area of industry responsibility is its Safer Gambling Standard.

“We’re all about raising standards around safer gambling and player protection. Our headline product is the SGS, which is an insurance product where we go and review safer gambling practices, policies and procedures.

“We look at a business’s culture, how they manage their customers, who they look after their colleagues and collaborate with other businesses. We then assess that against a set of criteria and give up to a three-star rating to show how well that company is doing in terms of safer gambling.

“Through that, we’re providing recommendations on how they can go further and go above and beyond the regulatory requirements and further improve the customer experience on player safety.”

As well as offering the Safer Gambling Standard as a kitemark for operators to achieve, Whitlam also detailed the efforts of the firm’s training team, which focuses heavily on customer interaction.

Additionally, GamCare also provides operator customer service teams with the ability to transfer directly into the national gambling helpline to enhance their support to high-risk customers, whilst the new addition to its arsenal is the SG Labs product.

“We can take a problem from a gambling operator and make a lived experience workshop, bringing together our service users who have lived experience of problem gambling and help the operator to gain those different perspectives and really help them improve their practices,” he concluded, discussing the SG Labs concept.


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