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UK Gambling Commission and industry collaboration makes progress on safer gambling

George Miller

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UKGC: Experts by Experience interim group created
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

  • Under 25s to be restricted from joining VIP schemes
  • Tightened controls to be introduced for other VIP customers
  • Online advertising rules strengthened to better protect vulnerable groups
  • Progress made on safer product design but industry must go further

Collaborative work with the industry has led to progress following three challenges laid down by the Gambling Commission to make gambling safer and reduce harm across the sector.

The work will lead to restrictions and prevention of under 25s being recruited to VIP schemes, a reduction on intensity of play such as the speed of spin and removing turbo buttons, and a joint effort to shield children and young people from online gambling advertising.

The Gambling Commission welcomes the recommendations made by the industry on safer products but challenges the industry to go further.

This new approach to accelerate progress to protect consumers from gambling harm was set by the Commission’s chief executive, Neil McArthur, in October 2019. Working groups made up of senior leaders from the industry were formed in January 2020 – concentrating on use of VIP incentives, safer advertising online and the use of safer product design.

The Industry working groups featured over 30 operators, co-ordinated by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).  As part of this work, the Commission ran workshops with people with first-hand experience of gambling harm, as well as collaborating with GamCare to ensure that its service users’ experience would also help inform any outcomes.

Those involved in the work will continue to develop and rapidly implement the proposals, with some measures around VIP customers being implemented as soon as April 14.

The Commission will now launch formal consultations on these areas to ensure that the new measures are incorporated into its regulatory framework – which means that all operators will have to abide by the new consumer protection rules.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive said: “We have been encouraged by the progress on VIP incentives, safer advertising and safer products.  We set these challenges in order to deliver real and rapid change for consumers in key areas of risk. However, it is important these commitments are implemented as soon as possible. It should not take months to implement safeguards many would expect to be in place already. 

“By working together with operators and seeking the views of people with lived experience of gambling harm we have been able to make significant progress, although there is always more to do. We will now consult on the necessary changes to our rule book to ensure all operators have to meet the new standards.

 “Whilst we are encouraged by industry proposals for making gambling products safer we now call on operators to implement those proposals rapidly; but the proposals do not go far enough and we will now consider what additional measures we should impose on operators. 

 “I recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak will impact on next steps and actions, in particular land-based operators. I welcome the fact that the operators involved and the BGC have remained committed to progressing this work during these difficult times. That is a positive sign of their commitment to make the industry safer.”

“Ultimately actions speak louder than words and any operator that does not put consumer safety first will find itself a target for enforcement action.”

Industry progress so far in these areas, and the Gambling Commission’s response and next steps:

Use of VIP incentives

This group was established to develop an industry code which addressed poor practices around the treatment and incentivisation of high value and high spending customers also known as ‘VIPs’. The industry has agreed to:

  • Restrict and prevent customers under 25 years of age from being recruited to high value customer schemes.
  • All customers must first pass thorough checks relating to spend, safer gambling and enhanced due diligence before becoming eligible for high value customer incentives.
  • Reward programmes will also be required to have full audit trails detailing decision making with specified senior oversight and accountability.

The Gambling Commissions response:

  • The Commission will now consult on permanent changes to the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP).
  • The Commission expects the industry to implement its code as soon as possible and considers most measures should be implemented within 3 months.
  • The Commission will monitor and support implementation of the industry’s code as an interim measure.


Safer advertising online

This Advertising Technology challenge was aimed at reducing the amount of online advertising seen by children, young people and vulnerable adults. Actions taken immediately by the industry and to be in place by July 2020 include:

  • A common list of negative search terms (e.g. how do I self-exclude from gambling?) and suppression websites, which will help shield vulnerable groups from online gambling ads.
  • Better and more consistent use of customer data to ensure paid-for-ads are targeting away from vulnerable groups across social media platforms, instead of targeting for business
  • Implement an approach which means that advertising is only targeted at +25 age in social media and “Pay Per Click” advertising where platform facilities permit. This will protect young people and increase confidence in the social media platforms’ own age-gating
  • Age-gating YouTube channels and content
  • Adopting and rolling out to all affiliates a code of conduct which will be amended and updated on a regular basis to ensure all measures undertaken by the industry will be implemented equally by affiliates.

These measures will be adopted across the industry as soon as possible and in any event enshrined in the IGRG’s Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising (subject to consultation with Bingo Association and BACTA) and effective by July 2020.

Further, the Working Group will:

  • Establish a permanent cross-industry Adtech Forum to ensure an on-going focus on making further progress in this area, including conducting and evaluating trials of advertising technology.
  • Continue the proactive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders (including platforms) on agreed areas of work, with the aim of continually setting the highest standards in responsible digital advertising and marketing and ensuring that all relevant technology is utilised to achieve that.
  • Work with the Gambling Commission to publish and promote consumer advice, and work with online platforms and broadcasters to identify a more effective, simple and consistent approach, with regard to blocking gambling advertising.
  • Commit to monitoring and evaluating all actions to ensure only effective solutions are pursued.

The Gambling Commission’s response:

  • The Gambling Commission’s view is that the industry has developed an appropriate set of commitments which should help further limit exposure to online gambling adverts by vulnerable groups.
  • The Commission recognises that the online advertising ecosystem is complex, and some progress will be dependent on third parties, such as the social media platforms. In these instances, we expect industry to work collaboratively with the platforms to identify and implement further solutions.
  • By virtue of their inclusion in the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, The Commission will now hold operators to account for these commitments from July.


Safer products

These groups were tasked with developing an industry code for responsible product and game design.  Industry commitment from this work so far includes:

  • A minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds on all slots.
  • Removal of game features which may encourage intensive play such as slam stops and turbo buttons.
  • Removal of split-screen slots which have been associated with potential loss of control.
  • A more detailed work plan which will include in-game messaging and the creation of a Betting and Gaming Council Testing Lab to look into other game features.
  • Publication of the final code in September 2020.

The Gambling Commission’s response:

  • The Gambling Commission’s view is that while some progress has been made, this work must now go further and faster, in particular around using demographics and behaviours to indicate risk.
  • The Gambling Commission will now consult on the priority areas for immediate action as soon as possible.

Brigid Simmonds, Chairman of the new standards body the Betting and Gaming Council said: “I am pleased with our members’ hard work and continued commitment to delivering substantial progress on the three safer gambling challenges set by the Gambling Commission on high value customers, advertising and game design. The progress reported today including restricting under 25’s from qualifying for high value customer accounts; strengthened advertising rules and games with slower speeds and the removal of some functionality comes despite difficult operating circumstances during the COVID-19 crisis. These measures, along with our recently announced 10 pledge action plan for COVID-19 safer gambling and our 22 industry safer gambling commitments will significantly transform and improve the environment for our customers and the wider public.  We agree with the Gambling Commission that there is still more work to do and we will rise to the ongoing challenge.”

This update coincides with the publication of the Gambling Commission’s 2020/21 business plan which includes commitment to driving forward these areas of work in regulatory requirements for the whole industry.

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Solid Gaming signs new agreement with Avatar UX

George Miller

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Solid Gaming signs new agreement with Avatar UX
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

With top games like Lillith’s InfernoTM, and the PopWinsTM series PopRocksTM, WildPopsTM and CherryPopTM, AvatarUX has made a name for themselves in the iGaming business. AvatarUX is all about the player experience and finding the right balance between mechanics, game play and art. Nothing is overlooked when they design a game which is clearly communicated in their mission: to create engaging games that players want to play. For Solid Gaming that was one of the key factors as our mission is to provide a game for every one.

AvatarUX is giving players an exciting and immersive game experience and with their PopWinsTM mechanics they have created a unique game feature with ‘popping’ symbols and endless possibilities for big payouts. “We are excited to welcome AvatarUX to the Solid Gaming family and are sure that their games will add value to our offer both on the Asian market but also for many European casinos looking towards the endless possibilities in Asia.”, says Thomas Nimstad, CEO of Solid Gaming.

“The fast game play and big wins that our games are known for has created a large amount of interest from operators and players alike. Being integrated with a well known and trusted partner like Solid Gaming allows our games to be enjoyed by players all across Asia quickly and easily no matter what country they are in.”, ends Marcus Honney, managing director at AvatarUX.

 

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Highlight Games Announces Partnership With Sisal Sans and Turkish National Lottery

George Miller

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Highlight Games Announces Partnership With Sisal Sans and Turkish National Lottery
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

London-based video virtual sports specialist Highlight Games Limited today announces that has won a multi-year contract with Sisal Sans – a joint venture between Italy’s Sisal and Turkey’s Demirören Holding.

As detailed in the agreement, Highlight Games will supply games featuring real and exclusive archive footage for use in Sisal Sans retail venues. SOCCERBET featuring Turkish League football under the branding ‘Serbest Vurus Pro’ is currently available in 650 Sisal Sans shops, with rollout forecast to reach 2,000 venues by the end of Q2 2021.

Additional products from Highlight Games including English and Italian football variants of SOCCERBET and NBA Last 60 will be introduced later in the year.

‘Highlight Games is proud to announce this transformative deal and to lead the way into Turkish National Lottery retail venues,’ said Steven Holmes, Co-CEO, Highlight Games.  ‘We have built strong business relationships in Turkey over the past two years, and the fruition of this partnership with Sisal Sans is an exciting result.  This deal signals a first for legal virtual sports on the Turkish mainland, built on the strength of performance of Highlight’s games in Sisal venues in Italy and Morocco and the differentiated product we can offer which is specifically tailored to the market with archive Turkish League football footage.  I am confident that our lead football product will replicate the success of our Italian Serie A game in Italy, and I look forward to working with our partners in Turkey to bring additional products to market in the near future,’ he added.

‘Sisal Sans is delighted to be partnering with Highlight Games to bring its unique portfolio of content to Turkish retail venues,’ said Selim Ergün, CEO, Sisal Sans. Video virtual sports engage players like no other product in the virtual sports space and we are confident that our players in Turkey will respond to these games as they have in our Italian and Moroccan venues.’

 

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Spotlight Sports Group release new interactive Betting Shop Display screen

George Miller

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Spotlight Sports Group release new interactive Betting Shop Display screen
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Spotlight Sports Group has today announced the launch of its latest interactive Betting Shop Display screen with integrated content from Racing Post. Based on extensive in-store usability testing and customer feedback, the latest version combines superior navigation, zoom functionality and enhanced Racing Post horseracing, greyhound and virtual racing content.

The new screen is the only available Betting Shop Display that has the trusted Racing Post content. In further advancements, the product now has bookmakers’ odds feeds completely integrated, meaning the display works as an early price screen with live content.

Going beyond the odds, one of the most exciting key features added to the latest release is a big-race-special section. Focused on major events such as the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup, the interactive pages provide customers with in-depth tipping to enable informed betting decisions.

Early adopter Entain has rolled out the new screens in an additional ten Ladbrokes and Coral shops, while Joe Jennings has launched the Betting Shop Display in its first two shops this week.

Speaking about the latest innovations, Spotlight Sports Group retail director Alan Pepperell talked of how the screens are adaptable and constantly evolving: “We design these products to ensure they cater for all betting shops, regardless of size. This release is our most significant to date with the launch of our latest content and the functionality of the screen. On one screen a customer can now get trusted Racing Post form, data and tipping on all the day’s racing from Britain, Ireland and across the world with our international racing coverage. Added to this, punters can now get early prices and morning tipping for every race and in-depth racing coverage with our big-race specials.”

Pepperell went on to discuss the difficulties betting shops currently face and how Spotlight Sports Group continues to work as closely as possible with its retail customers.

“It’s been an incredibly tough year for betting shops and I truly hope we’re coming out the other side of it now. Throughout the past year of the pandemic we have kept dialogue as open with our retail customers as possible to ensure we are catering to their needs. This new display is based on their customer feedback and we know the latest functionality will improve their in-store betting experience.”

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