UK betting giants offer new safer gambling commitments


betting-gaming-council-safer-gambling-commitmentsThe UK’s biggest betting and gambling operators have launched their new industry body with five responsible gambling commitments that aren’t likely to move the needle on how the industry is perceived.

Wednesday saw the official launch of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which merges and replaces the Remote Gambling Association and the Association of British Bookmakers as the UK gaming industry’s primary spokesmodel.

The BGC’s first order of business is the release of five Safer Gambling Commitments, which the group called “the most comprehensive set of measures” enacted to support the UK Gambling Commission’s National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

The five commitments are: to prevent underage gambling and protect young people; increase support for treatment of gambling harm; strengthen and expand codes of practice for advertising and marketing; protect and empower our customers; and to promote a culture of safer gambling.

The BGC will also work on new codes of conduct for affiliate marketing and sponsorship activities, while launching a £10m, four-year national campaign to educate young people on the potential harms of gambling. The campaign will be overseen by the GamCare and Young Gamers & Gambling Education Trust (YGAM) charities.

In a further commitment to transparency, the BGC’s signatories have tasked independent monitors with conducting and publicly releasing regular updates on individual firms’ commitment to their commitments.

With respect, the commitments don’t really represent any truly new initiatives, and the idea that any industry expects applause for preventing kids from accessing legally forbidden fruit seems remarkably tone-deaf given the current anti-gambling narrative in the UK media, which has been only too eager to distort recent UKGC statistics on youth gambling participation.

The BGC’s timing is also somewhat ham-fisted, coming just days after a group of UK parliamentarians called for a raft of new online gambling restrictions, including a £2m maximum stake on online slots. As such, the industry’s new commitments will largely be viewed not as a Road to Damascus epiphany regarding their business practices but simply as (more) PR damage control.