Q: Are gambling companies overall getting better at protecting consumers?
What we have seen over the past few years is more investment and resources being applied to player protection. Yet we know there is still a long way to go. In 2021, we conducted a survey with YouGov, and it was clear that the public felt gambling businesses were not playing their part – only 28% of respondents agreed with the statement that gambling businesses were doing enough to play safely. The industry needs to keep using its resources to find new ways to mitigate harm.
Q: What is the one common thing that most gambling companies are guilty of not doing to protect customers?
We know that there are many ways operators can still improve their processes to prevent gambling harm from occurring. One key area we think GamCare and consumer protection there could be significant improvements made in is affordability checks – having robust processes at the point of registration that set deposit limits and are based on accurate data checks on a customer’s income. This is where operators can really make an impact in beginning to protect their customers
Q: What are GamCare’s main initiatives for the up-and-coming year?
One area we’re very concerned about is the rising cost of living and the implications this may have for people who rely on our services. To this end, we have established a new Money Guidance Service that will provide guidance to those who have been financially impacted by gambling.
The service will work with people to establish day-to-day ways to improve their finances and work closely with those impacted by someone else’s gambling, to help them understand their options. Any support that gives improved access to dedicated financial guidance in the current climate will only enhance the current treatment offer and support longer-term recovery.
We are also looking at how we can reach more people and encourage them to get help, particularly digitally. Since the pandemic, we have seen a shift in the way that people reach out to the National Gambling Helpline, with more choosing our live chat function over physically calling on the phone. We want to continue reducing the barriers for people to start their recovery journey with us and are focussing on how we can achieve that through new digital means.
Q: What is the one thing that GamCare would like to see the Gambling Commission pay more attention to?
We know that the Commission has been looking closely into the guidance around customer interaction and we welcome this focus. It’s so important that customer-facing staff feel confident in supporting their customers and know how to respond when someone is experiencing harm, including the right places to refer people to such as the National Gambling Helpline.
The guidance sets out the need for ‘hot transfers’ to support those customers who are escalated internally where gambling harms are identified, which we see as a great step. The more focus we give here, the more we can ensure people are receiving the right level of support at the right time.