Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has replied to UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston stating that UK gambling is committed to maintaining the highest operating standards.
On Tuesday, Huddleston had penned a letter on behalf of DCMS to the leadership of the UK’s top five betting operators urging ‘further proactive steps’ to ensure gambling consumer protections during the national lockdown.
Huddleston urged bet365, GVC Holdings, SkyBet, William Hill and Flutter Entertainment to go beyond the responsibilities laid out in the BGC’s 10-point action plan announced at the start of April.
A key demand saw the UK sports minister call for ‘comprehensive data sharing’ of player trends and habits with DCMS, in order for the department to better monitor and understand behavioural changes during the lockdown period.
Backing new industry directives, Dugher assured DCMS that its key concerns had been addressed under the mandate of its new action plan, with its principles agreed on by 90% of the UK gambling industry.
“I can give you 100 per cent assurance that despite the severe financial pressures the industry is under at present, our members in the regulated sector are fully committed to working with you and the Government to address all concerns on safeguarding customers,” he said.
Addressing lockdown concerns, Dugher stated that the industry’s 10-pledge mandate had strengthened industry gambling measures and procedures ‘beyond its current regulatory requirements’.
Establishing new standards and responsibilities will see UK gambling incumbents actively promote deposit limits, increase safer gambling messaging, restricting and blocking accounts where necessary, and take action to ensure responsible advertising, including monitoring wagering volumes.
With regards to DCMS data sharing demands, Dugher underlined that the action plan demanded that UK operators share player information directly with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
“We can further confirm that our members have received a request for data from the Gambling Commission and we will work to ensure that this is urgently provided to the regulator,” Dugher added.
The BGC further highlights vital changes to industry VIP schemes, with all members denying VIP access and engagement with players under the age of 25.
Beyond lockdown, the BGC is committed to working with industry leaders and the UKGC in developing new advertising technologies protecting younger audiences and vulnerable consumers.
Furthermore, the BGC has developed a new framework on Game Design removing features which encourage ‘intensive play’ such as turbo spins and slam stops, in addition to ending split-screen functionalities.
“We will work with you, the Government and the regulator to address any further areas where there is an identifiable increased risk to customers during the current crisis,” Dugher states signing-off his letter to DCMS.