UKGC seeks multi-sector approach to tackling gambling related harm

Neil McArthur, chief executive Gambling Commission, has invited the finance industry to join a multi-sector approach to tackling gambling related harm.

Delivering a keynote speech as part of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s virtual conference, McArthur asserted a determination to “make gambling safer” and stated that a disruption “of the old ways of thinking” is key to raising standards for consumers.

“There are some who question the Commission’s approach but complex issues – and gambling related harm is a complex issue – require a wide range of perspectives and participants to solve them,” he said.

“There are no silver bullets here. It’s easy to come up with great soundbites – but real change takes hard work, collaboration and innovation in lots of different areas.”

If a lasting reduction in gambling related harm is to be achieved a multi-sector approach is a must, McArthur says, with the financial sector having a “vitally important role to play”.

He elaborated: “We want to work in partnership with the financial sector to find innovative ways to reduce gambling-related harm. We all have a part to play to protect vulnerable consumers. 

“The Gambling Commission has already banned gambling with credit cards, as evidence showed that it would reduce the risk of gambling harm to consumers. That was an important step, but there is always more that can be done.

“The financial sector has an important role to play. We have already seen the introduction by banks of gambling blocking software, together with the use of data to support customers affected by problem gambling. 

“Today’s event was an important opportunity for colleagues to look at how we can make gambling safer and I welcomed the opportunity to share our plans and priorities with professionals from across the finance sector.”

The conference is part of a two-year programme of work Money and Mental Health is undertaking which is aimed at engaging the financial sector in work to reduce gambling harm.

Funding for the programme was secured through a regulatory settlement approved by the regulator following an enforcement case.

Katie Alpin, interim chief executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, commented: “In recent years we’ve seen the financial services industry play an increasingly important role in supporting people affected by gambling problems – from the introduction of gambling blocks, to new advances in using customer data to identify and help those who are struggling.

“We hope that today’s conference will help galvanise firms from across the sector to build on this progress, and to go even further in improving support for customers experiencing gambling problems.

“That could make a big difference to the two million adults across Britain whose gambling habits may be having a damaging impact on their financial and mental wellbeing.”

McArthur’s invitation to the finance sector follows the Gambling Commission’s Single Customer View challenge to the gambling industry and technology providers earlier this year. The project seeks to find a way of producing a holistic view of a customer’s gambling to help reduce harm, particularly where customers have multiple online accounts.