Today the UK Gambling Commission concluded its public consultation to inform its national strategy to reduce gambling harm.
The consultion period ends just before the current National Responsible Gambling Strategy 2016–2019 winds up in March – making way for the regulator to introduce a new approach to tackling gambling harms.
IAGR eNews spoke to Ben Haden, Programme Director at the Gambling Commission about the consultation and new strategy.
Five priorities. One strategy.
‘The strategy has five priority areas for action to reduce gambling harms – research to inform action, prevention, treatment, evaluation and gambling businesses,’ said Ben.
These five priority areas form the basis of the current consultation.
‘Each of the areas will be of particular interest to different stakeholder groups, and respondents can choose to respond to some or all of the consultation, depending on their area of interest.’
A stronger industry focus on corporate social responsibility
The Gambling Commission is proposing two key amendments to the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP). The first, requires that licensees put into place policies and procedures that promote socially responsible gambling. The second, is designed to ensure licensees make voluntary contributions to organisations approved by the Commission that aim to research, prevent or treat gambling harms.
‘What we are trying to do now is make sure that every penny that operators contribute to research prevention and treatment is targeted towards actions that have the most impact on reducing the harms associated with gambling,’ Ben added.
Another important part of the new strategy, will be taking an honest look at what has and hasn’t worked when it comes to reducing harm.
‘One of the key themes of the strategy is to evaluate initiatives to prevent and tackle harm,’ Ben explained.
‘We would expect the industry to be evaluating all of the harm minimisation tools they offer, including self-exclusion, to measure their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.’
‘In relation to self-exclusion specifically, GambleAware appointed Ipsos MORI at the end of last year to conduct an evaluation of all of the multi-operator self-exclusion schemes.
‘This work will evaluate gamblers’ awareness and perception of self-exclusion, and of the multi-operator schemes and whether there are barriers to participating in these schemes.’
The evaluation will obtain insight from users about their experience using the schemes, focusing on how they could be improved and the viability of cross-sector multi-operator self-exclusion.
Problem gambling now part of NHS’ future plans
The public consultation took place as the NHS recently announced that its Long Term Plan includes specialist clinics to help problem gamblers.
‘The Gambling Commission really welcomes the inclusion of a commitment to expand geographical coverage of NHS services for people with serious gambling problems within the Long Term Plan,’ Ben said.
‘This is an important and significant step. We are optimistic about working more closely with the NHS in the future and are keen to explore with them what more can be done to signpost and support effective provision of a range of treatment options.’
Stakeholders criticial to strategy’s success
Following the consultation, the Commission will review the submissions and - working with stakeholders - write the final strategy.
‘It’s important to remember the new national strategy will belong to everyone, it’s not just the Gambling Commission’s.
‘Without working in partnership with the third sector, treatment providers and gambling businesses to name a few, we will not make the progress that everyone wants.’
For more information on the consultation visit the Gambling Commission’s website.