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UKGC Establishes Three-Year, Five-Point Strategic Plan

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) unveiled a five-point strategy on Tuesday designed to make the gambling market “fairer and safer for consumers.” Forward-looking through 2021, the strategy looks to balance consumer safeguards with industry growth.

The report opens by citing a few select statistics about gambling in the UK. Of the 50 million people who are 16-years old and up, 63 percent have gambled in the past year. Only 34 percent, though, think gambling is “fair and can be trusted.” That’s down from 49 percent about a decade ago.

Of the 32 million who have gambled in the past year, 29 percent only play the lottery. 18 percent gamble online and 29 percent of those online gamblers use a mobile device for their gaming.

2 million people are categorized as “at risk.” That’s 6 percent of men and 1.9 percent of women, with one in ten men ages 16 to 34 at risk.

400,000 people are “problem gamblers,” which is 0.8 percent of the population. Naturally, the problem gambling rate is highest – 11.9 percent – among those who participate in seven or more gambling activities. Like in the “at risk” category, men are more likely to be problem gamblers, 1.5 percent versus 0.2 percent of women.

The five points in the strategy are:

Protect the interests of consumers

The UKGC feels that information consumers need to be able to understand the gambling products they want to use can be difficult to find and way too general. It wants to use technology to tailor information to each player and make sure the gambling operators are carrying their share of the risk, that it’s not all on the consumer to seek out the information they need.

Prevent harm to consumers and the public

The UKGC will take necessary precautions to reduce harm stemming from gambling, not just by making sure controls are in place for players, but also making sure the operators, venues, and products are managed properly. The understanding of gambling-related harm and how to curtail it is important, as is proper funding of prevention and treatment services. Even if full evidence hasn’t been collected in situations where harm is possible, precautionary action can still be taken if there are signs of possible harm.

Raise standards in the gambling market

Operators need to be more diligent in their “know your customer” practices, making sure their games are fair, and protecting themselves and their customers against criminal elements.

“We expect to see evidence of operators (in particular their boards and senior individuals) leading a culture of accountability to the customer first, as well as to the regulator,” the report reads. “This means showing a genuine commitment to providing a fair and safe ‘offer’ to customers. It means seeking and taking account of consumer views. In particular, it means innovating to identify effective ways to prevent and minimise gambling related harm and maintain product and market integrity, and acting quickly to put things right if they go wrong.”

Optimize returns to good causes from lotteries

The UKGC reports that for the year ending September 2016, the National Lottery contributed about £1.7 billion to good causes. The Commission wants to grow this figure while at the same time ensuring the lottery offerings are fair and safe for the consumer.

Improve the way we regulate

“We aim to be a risk-based, evidence-led and outcomes-focused regulator,” says the Commission. “To further this we see a need for greater investment in our capabilities as a regulator, such as in relation to data – what we require, and how we manage and use it. We also see a need to evolve our approach and form of regulation, such as in expectations we set of how licensees will evidence action to identify and tackle gambling-related harm.”

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