Stakeholder interaction crucial in UKGC responsible gambling strategy

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The Senet Group has welcomed a reduction in the number of strategic priority areas outlined by the UK Gambling Commission, as the regulator introduces a new strategy to focus on reducing gambling harms.

Stressing the collaborative efforts of a wide range of stakeholders, in particular gambling operators and those at the forefront of customer engagement, the three year strategy, which has reduced the priority areas from twelve to five, is to come into force in April.

Welcoming the proposals, which the group stresses “will provide greater clarity and focus on the shared objectives across the industry,” the Senet is calling for an additional stage to be built into the strategy.

Emphasising help in identifying and clarifying the desired outcomes associated with the key strategic themes, the industry watchdog stated “without clearly articulated goals, it becomes difficult to assess progress or to focus cross-industry collaboration and action”.

The Senet also warns against adopting too wide a definition of harm, pointing to difficulties of other industries “has made it difficult to assess the impact of reduction strategies, due to other correlating factors and co-morbidities,” emphasising the vital role of the collective engagement of businesses across the strategy and support for the development of an industry data repository.

Gillian Wilmot, chairman of the Senet Group, said of the submission: “Elements of the gambling industry have contributed to an environment of mistrust and frustration in recent years, and delivery against the commission’s objectives in the last three-year strategy has not been sufficiently coordinated across operators.  

“However, companies are now making unprecedented efforts to reduce harms, and it’s critical that the customer insight and interaction they bring is put to good use, in ensuring that harm reduction solutions have the operational context necessary to succeed and be implemented speedily.”

The Senet Group has also commented on proposed amendments to the licence conditions and codes of practice, under which only accredited or approved organisations would be considered for funding towards research, education and treatment.

It stated that: “The proposed approval process anticipates an independence provision, which will require organisations to demonstrate their independence from gambling operators.  

“It’s not clear in the proposals what the independence test requires, and in Senet’s view, this approach could become a barrier to delivering the new strategy if too few organisations meet the independence test.

“Senet has therefore strongly recommended that the commission takes the opportunity to widen the basis of approved status to include ‘RET projects, campaigns or programmes’ that are clearly defined, adopt the evaluation protocols and deliver in support of the strategy.  

“This would unlock huge potential to get large scale programmes designed and implemented with multiple delivery partners, rather than create more bottlenecks and pressure on too few organisations.”