Britain’s gambling industry can do much more to make gambling safe. That’s the main message from the Gambling Commission as it introduces new rules to protect players, young people and others who are at risk of gambling-related harm.

 

The Commission also calls for a serious public debate on the extent to which anonymous cash-based machine gambling should be allowed to continue. Following a major review last year, the Commission has today published a series of new and updated social responsibility measures. These significantly strengthen the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) and clarify the leading role that operators themselves must take.

 

The changes include: operators’ employees must be able to supervise customers effectively on gambling premises. And they must have arrangements for identifying customers who are at risk of gambling-related harm, if they are not displaying obvious signs; larger operators must conduct test purchasing to make sure that their systems for preventing underage gambling are working; by April 2016, land-based operators must have in place schemes that allow a customer to make a single request to self-exclude from all operators of a similar type within their area – typically where they live and work. The Commission is also working with industry representatives to develop a national online self-exclusion scheme, which should be in place in 2017; a range of measures to ensure that marketing and advertising is socially responsible, including a requirement that the marketing of ‘free bet’ offers is open, transparent and not misleading; online operators must provide ‘time-out’ facilities so that players can take a break from their gambling, and offer players the ability to set a timed on-screen check to help them review their spend and possibly stop playing; major operators must set out what specific steps they are taking to minimise harm from gambling, how they assess their effectiveness and their plans for improvement over the coming year against which progress can be judged.

 

Philip Graf, the Commission’s Chair, said: “The work we have done through the review represents a significant strengthening of the social responsibility measures in the LCCP. But we have reached the point at which it is clear that much more could be achieved if anonymous gambling in cash was not such a prominent feature of land-based gambling. Removing anonymity of course raises its own challenges and it is time for a proper public debate on the costs and benefits of doing so.”