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Local Authority returns data request postponed

As recently advised by email to LAs, in light of the collective effort required by Local Authorities in the fight against Covid-19 up and down the country, the Gambling Commission has taken the decision to postpone this year’s annual LA returns process. As a result, we no longer expect Local Authorities to provide data to us via our online portals by the 15th May.

Once the current situation has subsided, we will consider whether to seek this data at a later date or to cancel this year’s return entirely. At every stage we will keep you informed. 

Advice to operators on keeping consumers safe

Protecting consumers will always be our highest priority and this will not change during this period. Our Chief Executive, Neil McArthur wrote out to gambling operators on the 25th March laying out our expectations of them to keep consumers safe at this time.  Covid-19 guidance and FAQs for operators are updated on a regular basis.

The Commission has also published guidance outlining the protections that are in place to reduce the risk of gambling harm on consumers.

The Betting and Gaming Council has also published a new 10 pledge action plan, which set outs the standards expected of its members during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Headline findings for the year to December 2019 include:

  • 47% of people have gambled in the past four weeks (32% if you exclude those that just played the National Lottery);
  • 21% of people have gambled on-line in the past four weeks;
  • 0.5% of people aged 16+ in England are classified as problem gamblers according to the PGSI or DSM-IV (2018);
  • 29% of respondents agreed that gambling is conducted fairly and can be trusted;
  • 43% of respondents think that gambling is associated with crime.

Effect of gambling marketing and advertising research

GambleAware recently published research by Ipsos Mori in partnership with a number of universities regarding the Effect of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable adults’.

Some of the key findings include:

  • There has been a 24% increase in the volume of gambling advertising between 2015 and 2018, with lotteries and bookmakers being the top spenders across all media
  • Only 4% of 11-24 year olds reported no exposure to gambling advertising in the last week
  • The type of things attracting children, young people and vulnerable adults to gambling adverts including celebrity endorsements, characters, colour, fun, glamour etc
  • Exposure to advertising didn’t always lead to action – but it did increase awareness of gambling and a sense of normalisation
  • For those young people who didn’t currently gamble, exposure to advertising was significantly associated with the likelihood to gamble in the future
  • In terms of online advertising spend, bookmakers outspent the other top 5 spenders by double
  • Across 5 football matches analysed, there was a reference to gambling every 21 seconds
  • Gambling ads perceived to portray gambling positively and are detracting from the risk 

Credit card gambling ban

From 14 April consumers will not be able to gamble using a credit card as payment, adding a vital layer of protection for consumers. The ban extends to credit card gambling through e-wallets.  It is an important step forward in protecting the 10.5 million people who gamble online from harm – with statistics showing that 800,000 individuals in the UK use credit cards to gamble. Research also highlights that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm. 

Commission and industry collaboration makes progress on safer gambling

We have published an update on the collaborative work with the industry 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.

Commission's Business Plan

We have recently published our 2020/21 Business Plan which outlines key priorities for the year ahead, including an ongoing commitment to reducing gambling harm, and continuing its work in making gambling safer, particularly online.

Public Health Scotland launched

Scotland’s new national public health body launched on 1 April and will take up the challenge of improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s people against the backdrop of an unprecedented public health emergency. The new organisation will play a significant part in the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, working in collaboration with NHS Boards, the Scottish Government, local authorities and many others to protect the nation’s health and save lives.

Public Health Scotland will be jointly accountable to both the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). It brings the functions of Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division (formally within NHS National Services Scotland) together with NHS Health Scotland.


Next: Advice and guidance updates