The Betting and Gaming Council has called on the Government to put child protection “front and centre” of the forthcoming Gambling White Paper.
In total, 15 child protection measures have been introduced since the BGC was established in 2019. They include the £10m Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, which is delivered to children, teachers and youth workers across the UK by safer gambling charities, YGAM and GamCare. Earlier this year, BGC members introduced new rules to ensure children cannot view gambling ads on football clubs’ official social media accounts. BGC members also introduced new age gating rules for advertising on social media platforms, allowing only those aged 25 and over to view gambling advertisements. Early results from one operator showed a 96% decrease in views of social media advertisements by those aged 18 to 24 in the last three months of 2020, compared to the last three months of 2019. The whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sport has also led to a 97% reduction in the number of young people viewing such ads.
Figures released by independent analysts, Serve Legal, revealed that betting shops’ age verification checks were greater than those of supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol forecourts. So far this year, 90% of betting shops have passed ‘secret shopper’, compared to 83% of convenience stores, 77% per cent of supermarkets and 76% of petrol forecourts. The BGC is calling on others in the regulated betting and gaming industry, for example those selling scratch cards in convenience stores or fruit machines in pubs, to follow the lead of betting shops in their success with independent age verification checks
In a recent report by the Gambling Commission, the rate of problem gambling for 16 to 24-year-olds had fallen from 0.8% to 0.4.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “We strongly support the Government’s Gambling Review, which highlighted the protection of children and vulnerable people in a fair and open gambling economy as one of the Government’s main priorities. We therefore hope that child protection will be front and centre of the forthcoming white paper.
“It is clear that the steps BGC members have taken over the previous two years are now providing results.
“Nevertheless, we are not complacent, and protecting young people remains our top priority as we continue raising standards across the regulated industry.
“The BGC and our members will continue drive further changes to prevent under-18s and other vulnerable groups from being exposed to gambling advertising online.
“The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling, which is in stark contrast to the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are commonplace among BGC members.”