UK Gambling Commission Eyes ‘Single View’ for Online Gaming
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) continues to exert more pressure on the country’s gambling industry. The latest change is a pilot program of a “single customer view” that all gaming operators will share.
Appearing before the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) on Tuesday, UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes announced the pending trial. It will likely begin in the next few months and will put player data into a single pool that all operators will access.
Despite repeated studies that show problem gambling is virtually non-existent in the UK, it remains a hot topic. The gaming regulator continues to introduce policies and procedures that might ultimately suppress the legal market instead of enhancing it.
All Eyes on Gambler Activity
Through the single customer view, which the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) helped develop, customer data will be available industrywide. Currently, gambling spend, session duration, and other statistics are operator-specific.
The goal, according to the UKGC, is to enhance the UK’s oversight of potential gambling harm. If a player, for example, spends an unjustifiable amount on one operator’s platform, another operator will now be able to see this.
In addition, if one platform cuts off a player over a potential spending issue, that person can currently jump easily to a new platform. By implementing the single view, operators will be able to identify those who move from one platform to another in order to avoid controls.
Rhodes is optimistic about the outcome of the pilot program, calling it a “seismic” shift in gambling safety. He added that it could “dramatically help reduce harm.”
That’s in spite of the UKGC’s own data that shows a problem gambling rate in the UK of around 0.2%. A separate study by Public Health England puts it at 0.5%. The UKGC figure is a 50% reduction from 2021 and came without the introduction of stricter oversight.
If it were up to Rhodes, he would ban gambling-related sponsorships in sports as well. While this is a hot-button topic in the UK, he remarked that overseas operators targeting non-UK markets shouldn’t be allowed to sponsor UK clubs, either.
Safer Gambling Week Highlights Operator Efforts
This week is Safer Gambling Week in the UK and Ireland. The timing of the IAGR’s meeting was not coincidental.
Still, this week highlights as much the need to ensure safer gambling as it does the efforts operators have already implemented. In the UK, gambling and betting was worth over £14 billion (US$15.85 billion) last year, making it a huge part of the economy.
Operators recognize the significant role they play. As such, they have introduced a number of initiatives on their own to support safer gambling. One, for example, came through the Senet Group eight years ago.
Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and William Hill created Senet as an “independent regulatory body” that promotes responsible gambling and a “socially conscience gambling market,” according to its website. That led to the creation of the Multi-Operator Self-Exclusion Scheme (MOSES) in 2016. Since then, operators have proactively used and promoted the platform to increase awareness of gambling harm.
Operators have introduced additional measures as well for online and retail operations. For example, Flutter and Entain have their own internal programs, and William Hill recently announced the launch of a state-of-the-art betting shop with a focus on responsible gambling.
The UKGC receives millions of dollars annually from gaming operators through voluntary donations. This is in addition to the tens of millions of dollars it receives through fines.
In addition, GambleAware, a responsible gambling charity, received $21 million last year to support responsible gambling. Between operator efforts and donations, there’s a lot of funding already available for the creation, maintenance, and enhancement of safe gambling policies.
Studies have shown that around 43% of the UK participates in gambling or betting. Of this, more than 87% do so responsibly. However, the UKGC thinks it can take the number to 100%.