Dan Iliovici

A possible source of inspiration

By Dan Iliovici, vice-president, ROMBET

The challenges and problems facing gambling authorities are similar in most states.
Thus, somehow caught between a hammer and anvil, the representatives of the authorities are subject to pressure and criticism from players, the general public, the media, and criticism from politicians, governments or legislators.
Even if at European level there is no, and no foresight, a unitary regulation of gambling, I think that if we “look over the fence”, we can be inspired to take some good ideas, and possibly avoid some mistakes made by over time by those who are directly involved in the field of gambling.
In today’s article we will make a brief presentation of the recently published strategy of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), one of the most active and … criticized (from all directions!) Authorities.
Without trying a word-for-word translation of this strategy, available online at the authority’s website https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk, I will try to highlight the most important issues, while adding some comments, in the hope that all this will be useful.
There are three strategic objectives advanced by the UKGC for the next three years:
Protecting children (minors) and vulnerable people from the negative effects of gambling;
A fairer market and more informed consumers;
Keeping crime out of the realm of gambling.
I think that it is not by chance that the issue of minors and the vulnerable comes first in this list. The authorities of each state consider, without exception, an absolute priority to protect these categories, and especially children.
I would start with an important emphasis:
One of the words that comes up often in the text is “collaboration”.

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I think that no one can become a kind of gambling guru, the owner of the best solutions and protection programs against their negative effects, no matter how much “experience” he has in this field. The UK Commission therefore rightly urges cooperation, collaboration, consultation with all stakeholders, as well as the general public, on gambling issues and finding solutions to prevent and reduce gambling. these problems.
Another important aspect is the transition that the Commission has made in the last two years from the classic phrase “responsible gaming” to the one with a much broader meaning, ”gambling related harm”.
I think that this new concept is more appropriate in the analysis and much broader, holistic approach to the negative effects that gambling can have.
Here is what the Commission’s strategy says:
“The negative effects of gambling related harm are a public health problem that requires a coordinated response. These include both personal injury and the wider impact it can have on family life, access to public services and costs to the community and the economy. Our role (of the n.m. authority) is to ensure that licensees (n.m. operators) act to minimize the risk of adverse effects. (…)
More work is needed to assess the extent of the damage (negative effects n.m.) related to gambling, and to understand what works best to reduce it.
Given the changing pace of the gambling industry, it is important to understand the factors that influence players’ behavior so that we can focus on preventing damage before it occurs. (…)
We will ensure that licensees work together to develop innovative ways to reduce harm and protect consumers. (…)
We will gather evidence about how people bet and the factors that affect their gambling behavior.”

The UKGC constantly focuses on the development of measures – regulations – based on relevant data and information, obtained from objective studies and information.
Measures based on emotions or common sense give the impression of a concern to do good, but in the absence of clear, indubitable evidence, they only fall into populism.
Not to mention the material and logistical costs incurred by operators, obliged to comply with such rules, without any evidence that the measure has any positive effect..
“We will develop research methods to ensure the collection of high quality data.
We will work with the authorities, advisory groups and other partners, we will capitalize on the experience of consumers (players), to improve the way we collect evidence on the impact that gambling can have.
We will work (!) With all stakeholders and partners to gather evidence on the effectiveness of gambling harm reduction activities and take action on that evidence. ”

In the next issue we will continue the presentation of the strategy of the UK Gambling Commission.