BBC brings gambling review into the limelight

In the latest episode of ‘Newsnight’, the BBC headlined with coverage of the upcoming gambling act review.

A report by BBC correspondent Anna Collison suggested that “balancing the need to protect the vulnerable, whilst preserving a multi-billion tax flow, involves a tricky judgement”.

One of the changes Newsnight stated might come into the restructuring of affordability checks, as it has been widely speculated by the general media in recent weeks. 

In the programme, gambling policy researcher Heather Wardle of the University of Glasgow called Public Health England’s data a ‘conservative estimate’ that 0,05% of UK adults suffer from problem gambling.

In contrast, Newsnight acknowledged that the industry and betting companies “had been much more proactive in tackling problematic behaviours”, with Kindred Group’s commitment to “reaching zero revenues from harmful gambling” being cited.

Collison’s report was then followed by a round-table discussion which consisted of three sides in the gambling review debate.

These were Smarkets CEO Jason Trost, Baroness Hilary Armstrong, and Vice Chair of the Peers for Gambling Reform Group and GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings.

Going off the experience she has with operating the National Gambling Helpline, Hemmings pointed out that the most effective fight against problematic behaviours is to intervene early and prevent escalation, which would ideally happen through effective legislation.

Highlighting the efforts of the industry towards introducing safer gambling practices, Trost mentioned that adopting suitable monitoring tools and control measures has been at the forefront of the industry. 

Despite that, forcingly controlling the behaviour patterns of players is in every way impractical, with Trost saying: “There is a slippery slope possibility of when do you want  companies adjudicating a customer’s behaviour.”

Responding to Smarkets’ CEO, Baroness Armstrong stated that “the problem is that the evidence does not match the rhetoric” on operators’ actual conduct and behaviour”.

“Yes, it’s very easy to place your first bet, but it’s very difficult to leave, or to recognise that you are spending too much,” she concluded.

The BBC closed off with a remark that waiting for the review to be finalised might be coming to an end, with the broadcaster predicting that the White Paper report could be published as early as next week.

Author: Peter Owens