The UK-founded and focused Campaign for Fairer Gambling plans to expand its scope and adopt a new international agenda, according to Founder Derek Webb.
Webb revealed in a post on the group’s website that the Campaign has been relaunched in the aftermath of the UK’s Gambling Act review, which he described as ‘certainly imperfect’.
However, Webb shared his belief that the review contains ‘positive proposed reforms and multiple pending consultations’. This is pushing the industry in ‘the right direction’, he said.
“Our intent is to preserve access to lawful but safer gambling for consumers,” Webb emphasised, pointing to the Campaign’s role in ushering in a £2 stake limit on betting shop Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in 2019.
However, with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) having handed out over £76m in penalties since the start of 2022 – albeit it for pre-2020 infractions in some notable cases – and the betting and gaming space continuing to grow, Webb’s campaign is not done yet.
Webb continued: “Meanwhile, some operators repeatedly breach regulations, some profit from black markets, and some are now major players in the newly liberalised US remote gambling market.
“But in the start-up greed-rush, some US states have overlooked these bad practices, ignored the lessons from outside the US, and have not adequately prepared to mitigate the negatives of remote gambling expansion.”
The Campaign’s stateside objectives are to contribute to improvements in gambling policy, legislation, regulation and enforcement standards to reduce gambling harm. The group aims to adopt its ‘evidence-based approach’ from the UK betting sector.
In preparation, Webb stated that Campaign has retained ‘boutique bipartisan DC firm’ Imperium Global Advisors for federal advice and the Doura-Schawohl Consultancy for state-level guidance.
Webb’s experience of British gambling has been extensive and varied. His life has seen stints as a professional poker player, a developer of casino table games, an intellectual poetry holder and a litigation funder in B2B supplier dispute
The latter stages of his career have seen a shift towards gambling reform advocacy, focused on campaigning for changes to the 2005 Gambling Act, the subject of the government’s nearly two-and-a-half year long-review and recent White paper.
Notably, Webb has been one of the biggest financial backers of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm’s (APPG GRH), donating £120,000 between December 2019-January 2023.
Whilst Webb made it clear that the US – where some form of gambling product is now legal in over 36 states, the bulk of which have legalised retail and/or online sports betting – is its target, future consultations planned by the UK DCMS on the White Paper’s proposals mean that the Campaign will continue to maintain interests in its home nation.
The Campaign Founder cited its past activity against FOBT’s, observing that revenue from said products has fallen 40% by £750m since the £2 limit was introduced in April 2019 and that the number of National Gmaling Treatment Service users referenced the product as a main gambling activity has fallen by 65%.
Although not referenced by Webb, the UK’s problem gambling rate has also fallen over the past three years, reaching a record low of 0.2% according to the latest UKGC data. The results of a recent study, meanwhile, reaffirmed a 0.3% problem gambling rate.
“These are the kinds of results we want to see from reform,” Webb asserted. “With the right protections in place, gambling can be both enjoyable for the consumers and viable for the businesses.”