More needs to be done to prevent all forms of gambling for those under the age of 18, says Daniel Spencer, head of safer gambling at Epic Risk Management, with there said to be a growing appetite for sweeping reform across the UK.

Speaking from personal experience, Spencer says that a large proportion of those he knows who have experienced gambling related harm have started the activity as a child.

His personal journey included living with a gambling addiction for 16 years, with Spencer now using his lived experience to develop and deliver training and consultancy services across some of the highest prevalent sectors for gambling related harm. 

He spoke to CasinoBeats to look ahead at potential occurrences during the impending review of the Gambling Act, and all things Safer Gambling Week 2020.

CasinoBeats: What does Safer Gambling Week mean for Epic Risk Management:

Daniel Spencer: Safer Gambling Week is an opportunity to shine some light on the subject of gambling related harm, and spotlight new innovations and important messages. 

Epic’s opinion is that every gambling transaction, every minute of ever hour, and every day of every week, should be safe. Nobody should be able to gamble any time or money that they cannot afford to lose. It is our belief that we are not yet in that position and that means there is still much work to do, for operators, the regulator and politicians. 

So, for Epic, Safer Gambling Week is business as usual. We will continue to work around education, awareness training and consultancy to reduce gambling related harm in the highest risk sectors.  

CB: What message/s as a result of the campaign would you hope resonate with stakeholders and the public?

DS: There is a small percentage, yet a significant amount of people that suffer gambling related harm. It is important to recognise that this harm is not the sole responsibility of the individual. There is a multi-accountability of the gambling industry, media, politicians, and the regulator to ensure that gambling becomes a safer activity in the future.  

We want stakeholders and the public to recognise the harm but also, we feel that there needs to be a focus on the impact that problem gambling can have too.  We think that the public are unaware of the consequences of gambling related harm and the industry should be playing a part in getting that message out there.

It’s integral to what we do here at EPIC, we ensure that when we deliver training within the industry that we bring each example to life with true accounts from lived experience facilitators, exactly what went wrong, why and the fallout from that.

How can the industry ensure that these messages continue to be spread all year round, and not just during one specific seven-day period?

Safer gambling is not just a one-week message – it is essential it is a year-round focus. Safer gambling needs to be ingrained into the values of every operator. It should be at the very core of what drives each decision. 

Only operators who adopt this approach and are truly on board with raising standards will be sustainable in the future. 

To ensure that this message continues to resonate, we encourage open, honest and transparent communication, collaboration between all stakeholders and improved awareness raising and education around the potential dangers and consequences of gambling in an appropriate way. 

With there said to be a growing appetite for sweeping reform within the UK, what do you believe should occur in the upcoming review of the Gambling Act?

Personally, I would love to see more done so that we can stop all forms of gambling for those under 18 years of age. The recent announcement by BACTA (to remove fruit machine gambling for under 18’s) is the start of a really impactful movement. Almost everyone I know with a history of gambling related harm started as a child and we need to do more to safeguard them. To be clear, EPIC’s position is that no-one under the age of 18 should be able to gamble – full stop! That includes scratch cards and in-game loot-boxes. 

As previously stated, nobody should be able to gamble any time or money they cannot afford to lose. I think that will automatically lead to affordability and source of wealth checks, being a major driving force behind any regulation change. 

All elements of the Gambling Act should be reviewed fairly and in balanced and evidence-based way, this is a once in decade opportunity to bring gambling regulation into the digital age.