Safer gambling is the regulated betting and gaming industry’s “top priority all year round”, standards body boss Michael Dugher has declared. Mr Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, spoke out as 2021’s Safer Gambling Week – which runs until November 7 – kicked off.
He also vowed to use the event to build on the now two million people using deposit limits – one of the safer gambling tools offered by BGC members. The campaign was launched in the wake of a Gambling Commission report which showed that the rate of problem gambling has fallen from 0.6 per cent to 0.3 per cent over the past year.
The study also showed that the rate of those classed as being at ‘moderate risk’ of harm fell from 1.2 per cent to 0.7 per cent in the same time frame.
Once again, Safer Gambling Week is being supported by the BGC, the Bingo Association and bacta, the amusement machine trade association. The annual campaign has been running since 2017, when the industry united for the first time to promote Responsible Gambling Week. This year’s event will see a blitz of safer gambling messages both online and in land-based venues, sparking a nationwide conversation on how to bet responsibly.
Every arm of the regulated industry will come together to encourage staff, customers and the general public to raise awareness of, and talk about, safer gambling.
It comes just two weeks after the launch of ‘Take Time To Think’, the BGC’s campaign to encourage customers to use tools like deposit limits, time-outs and self-exclusion to stay in control of their betting. It stands in contrast with the unsafe, unregulated online black market, which has none of the safeguards used by BGC members.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “Safer Gambling Week is now an established annual event. We know that rates of problem gambling are low and are now falling, which is great news, but Safer Gambling Week is further evidence of the regulated industry’s determination to keep raising standards.
“Millions of people enjoy a flutter every year on the National Lottery, at the bingo, on sports, in casinos and gaming online – and the vast majority of them do so safely and responsibly. But one problem gambler is one too many, which is why Safer Gambling Week is so important.
“This is about building on the two million customers who now use deposit limits, and it is also about making sure that those who need help know where they can get it. We don’t want people drifting off to the unsafe, unregulated black market online.
“Safer Gambling Week brings together everyone who genuinely wants to see safer gambling including the regulator, the Government and so many cross-party MPs.
“For the regulated industry, safer gambling isn’t just an issue for one week of the year, it’s our top priority all year round.”
Gambling Minister Chris Philp MP said: “Safer Gambling Week is an important moment for the industry to come together and continue to do all it can to promote safer gambling and prevent gambling-related harm year-round.
“We need to find ways of doing more to protect those with severe gambling addiction from the life changing damage they can suffer. Our ongoing review of the Gambling Act will ensure our laws are fit for the digital age, and strike the right balance between protecting those most at risk and giving adults the freedom to choose how they gamble safely.”
Andrew Rhodes, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission said: “We know that over 20 million people in the UK regularly gamble in some way and for the vast majority this is something they do without any issue. However, around 340,000 people in Britain are problem gamblers.
“With this in mind, Safer Gambling Week is the ideal opportunity for operators to demonstrate how they can raise standards and showcase how Britain can become a world-leader in making gambling as safe as possible.”