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Safer Gambling Training: UK can set a new global standard for player protection

Frankie Graham, Chief Executive of BetKnowMore, says that by embedding education and staff training within their organisations, UK gambling can benefit from a sustainable marketplace as consumers place the highest value on trust and transparency…

Over the past couple of years, the UK gambling sector has begun to prioritise Safer Gambling. Driven by heightened awareness and acknowledgement that gambling does have associated risks and that those risks can translate into serious and chronic harms if not properly identified and managed. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

So, what is Safer Gambling? First and foremost, it should be the driver to ensure that player protection is paramount. Risk and reward are inherent within the act of gambling; it provides stimulation and motivation. Whilst this can be managed safely by most who gamble, for some the activity can become habit-forming, influencing thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Gambling may become habitual, crossing the line towards addiction.

Player protection will be most effective when it covers the full and potential journeys for all customers, requiring empathic understanding, identification of risk markers, and appropriate interventions, along different touchpoints of the journey.

Gambling customers are becoming more discerning. Their awareness of Safer Gambling measures and associated risks has also been heightened, expectation of help in managing gambling behaviours is increasing, and not just from gambling services and products. For example, banking apps provide ‘friction’ in the form of gambling blocks or limits.

Customers are increasingly valuing ‘trust’ as a key factor in deciding which gambling provider to use. Trust can only be built through reliable, safe, and transparent provision of service. Safer Gambling, therefore, is more than a new initiative. It should be embedded into every aspect of customer service and care.

To move towards a consistent level of customer service, a basic level of competency would be a great place to start, courtesy of training and staff development across the industry. I think having a set of international standards might speak volumes with customers, the government, and regulators.

As an example, in Australia, when a person wants to serve alcohol, they need to gain a sector ‘passport’ – which is provided after training and demonstration of competency. We would support such a move within the UK gambling sector.

The third sector connection to gambling is a diverse network of experienced professionals, educators, clinicians, researchers, specialists, and importantly individuals, who provide a unique insight from their lived experience of gaming- and gambling-related harms.

Likewise, the gambling industry is certainly not short of skilled professionals, so there is real opportunity to utilise these and raise standards to new levels.

Our Safer Gambling training aims to do just that through a collaboration between two charities in Betknowmore and YGAM. Both organisations were founded by and continue to be inspired by individuals with ‘lived experience’. Lived experience provides personal insight, knowledge, and empathic understanding of the both the customer journey, and the potential risks and harms associated with gambling. We can also learn from their experiences of good practice, not just when it has gone wrong.

I think customer-facing and compliance teams can develop by understanding customer journeys through the lens of lived experience. It is vital that operators focus more on early identification, prevention, and appropriate interventions. Crucially, we hope that our Safer Gambling training provides enhanced confidence, a really key ingredient in customer interactions. At present (April 2021), 82% strongly agree our training provides just that.

The training content is fully relevant to the Gambling Commission’s latest LCCP requirements and has received funding from regulatory settlements to support the delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

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