Dan Iliovici

A possible source of inspiration

By Dan Iliovici, vice-president, ROMBET

(continuation)

We continue the presentation of the recently published strategy of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) 1. We do this not to provide lessons or examples to be taken word for word, but rather to analyze and possibly use the experience of other states on how the gambling authority constantly adapts its plans to the evolution of this extremely dynamic field, the little from a technological point of view.
Having previously looked at the UKGC’s vision of protecting minors and vulnerable people from the negative effects of gambling, in today’s article we will see how the UK Commission approaches achieving a fairer and more informed gambling market.

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The starting point in addressing this sensitive topic is a UK study, which found that “public perception that gambling is fair and reliable has fallen from 49% in 2008 to 29% in 2020, although 47% of British adults say that they bet in the last four weeks “. The Commission aims to “work to understand what this perceived decline in perceived confidence means, how gambling-related behaviors affect, and how regulation (the regulatory framework) can be used to deliver better results for consumers.”
Here I would have a remark regarding the wider perception of the public towards gambling as a whole, not only regarding how fair / reliable it would be. In a “traditional” way, everything that has to do with gambling: the organizers (operators), the players, even the authorities in the field, bear the stigma of a bad thing, blamed by everyone. And this is present all over the world, not only in Great Britain or Romania, being amply fed by the media, which in any negative event seeks an imaginary connection with the gambling area.
However, few know that nowadays, in many states / jurisdictions, including Romania, this activity is one of the most strictly regulated and controlled. But it seems that this aspect matters less than popular folklore and prejudices deeply rooted in the collective consciousness, according to a somewhat classical expression.

Returning to the UKGC strategy, it considers that “consumer complaints can be a good indicator of confidence in the licensee’s products and services. An effective complaints and feedback process can help improve consumer confidence in the industry.”
Regarding complaints, the Commission considers that “some consumers are struggling to understand and the associated mathematical concepts. This is reflected in customer complaints that show a lack of understanding of how products and services work (in the gambling industry a.n.).” Thus, a “more innovative thinking and trying different ways of communicating the key concepts of gambling” would be required. The goal is to “help consumers make informed choices about their game.”
And here’s a task for gaming operators as well: “We expect to see licensees make more progress in this area, to ensure that gambling is as fair and open as possible.”

The Commission then identifies four areas in which a fair market and better consumer information could be ensured:
· Ensuring the correctness of products (services);
· Improving consumer-player information;
· Understanding consumer concerns;
· Publication of information on licensees.

Thus, the Commission wants to ensure “that new products meet technical standards and have undergone adequate and sufficient testing before being placed on the market.” It is also necessary to have “Confirmation that the test companies comply with the revised accreditation standards, which ensure the correctness of the products entering the market.”

The subject of technical conditions and the testing of the means of play is quite hot in this period in our country, but I think that what must be kept in mind is the major objective: ensuring a fair, competitive market, focused on the protection of players.

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The next point is to improve player information.
The Commission wants to “ensure that licensees present product information in a clear and easy-to-understand way to enable the consumer to make an informed choice.”
I don’t think it’s necessary to mention how cryptic, lawyers, the terms and conditions are, not to mention the tiny fonts with which they are actually written. I really wonder if there is a player who read them BEFORE the game.
But something similar is happening in other areas, such as banking and finance. But this is another topic.
That is probably why the UK Gaming Commission aims to do everything possible to make this information “accessible and easy to understand.”

The third step would be to “understand consumer concerns, improve our ability (of the Commission n.m.) to identify consumer problems and act quickly to address them.”
Operators should have “appropriate complaint procedures, in accordance with our (Commission’s a.n.) guidelines, and that they are accessible to consumers.”

Here I think an important role could be played by the way in which the authority keeps in touch with consumers, with players. It could be very useful to have a web page with the most frequently asked questions / complaints from players, where they can quickly find the answers to their problems, all in a simple, accessible language, not limited to dry reproduction of legal texts, as is often the case when someone asks for an authority’s point of view, whatever the field.
Finally, regarding the publication of information on licensees, the UK Commission will “consider what additional information (about operators a.n.) would be useful and usable by gambling consumers and the general public.” In this regard, the Commission aims to “explore how, and whether, the publication of information could provide licensees with additional reputational incentives to raise standards.”

We will continue in the next article the presentation and analysis of the UKGC strategy.