UKGC Criticised for Betting Companies’ Part in Problem Gambling Taskforce

The UK’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) has recently been under fire for allowing companies with a history of transgressions to help lead its initiative in reducing problem gambling. Critics such as Labour MP Carolyn Harris have taken this move by the UKGC as enabling the gambling industry to effectively “[mark] their own homework”.

The UKGC comes under fire as many of these prior transgressions have been linked to issues with problem gambling. The UKGC’s initiative to reduce problem gambling and improve the protection of vulnerable people has been organised into three working groups:

One of these groups will be exploring how the gambling industry can improve upon the presentation of its products, creating product designs that will reduce the risk of encouraging problem gambling.

Another of these three groups will investigate issues with VIP bonuses, and ways in which to reduce their impact on enabling problem gambling. VIP incentives are often tailored to users who frequently lose large sums of money, rewarding them with free bets and other attractive offers to help retain customers.

The third of these working groups will be looking at how to improve the safety of online gambling adverts, reducing exposure of these ads to society’s most vulnerable (e.g. children and problem gamblers) and encouraging betting companies to become more responsible with their online presence.

Whilst all three of these working groups are attempting to improve safety measures and reduce the risk of exposure to the most vulnerable members of society, the fact that betting companies are leading these groups has raised concerns.

Of these includes the previously mentioned Carolyn Harris (Labour MP), who has stated that “This is the gambling industry marking their own homework”. Alongside Harris includes an expert in gambling addiction Dr Steve Sharman, who states that whilst betting companies play an important role, they should not be leading these working groups.

Whilst the betting companies’ roles in this UKGC initiative has fallen under criticism, the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission Neil McArthur has argued against such claims. According to McArthur, if the industry does not come up with effective proposals by March, they could be hit with stricter regulations.

Whilst the UKGC’s new working groups have been the cause of great criticism and concern, only time will tell how effective they will be, as the UKGC works with the betting industry to try and protect society’s most vulnerable from problem gambling.