Mims Davies: DCMS – Industry must show ‘accountability for business’ in 2019

Speaking at this morning’s ‘GambleAware Conference’  – Mims Davies, the UK’s new Minister for Sports & Civil Society shared her first reflections on the various challenges facing the gambling sector.

Davies brands 2018 as a ‘progressive year of policy developments’, despite UK-licensed operators garnering negative headlines for multiple compliance failures on social responsibility, gambling-harm protections, player due diligence and interactions.

Overseeing the sector’s policy development, Davies outlines that she will continue to follow former incumbent Tracey Crouch’s guiding mandate that gambling stakeholders ‘show greater accountability for business’.

“The Secretary of State and I want industry to identify behaviour that could put people at risk from harm and intervene early. Socially responsible business is the only kind of business we want to see in this sector.” Davies tells the GambleAware audience.

“The Government wants to see an industry that generates employment and investment. However, there are risks and industry must mitigate those risks with appropriate protections.”

Heading into a crucial 2019, in which operators will make several adjustments to counter the impacts of FOBTs £2 wagering limits and a remote-gaming-duty (RGD) increase to from 15-21%.  Nevertheless, Davies warns sector leadership of a tougher DCMS stance on the sector reminding that ‘government action has not ended with the Gambling Review’.

The minister reports that the government would consider implementing aa “mandatory levy” on operators if it was felt the industry was not taking sufficient steps to address the responsible gambling.

“We want the voluntary system to work – but if it doesn’t, we do not rule out other ways of funding support, including a mandatory levy. The profits of gambling operators aren’t my prime concern. Ensuring problem gamblers have access to the right treatment is.”

As reported this November by the UKGC, Davies states her concern on the growing number of children engaging with gambling activities.

For 2019 the minister details that she wants a wider pool of social stakeholders tackling the issue of under-age-gambling, combined with awareness by betting operators on how they promote their services and products.

“Protecting children remains paramount. We treat this issue very seriously, and we will monitor the situation carefully. GambleAware’s work with educators and parents will be of great importance here.”

“My colleague, the Minister for Digital and I, will, next week, be chairing a meeting bringing together Gambling and Technology executives to discuss best practice for protecting customers.

This includes building our understanding of how online advertising is actively targeted away from children as the rules require, as well as understanding the opportunities for using new technology to strengthen player protections online.”