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National Strategic Assessment 2020

This report sets out our latest assessment of the issues we face and the risks that gambling poses to consumers and the public

  1. Contents
  2. Executive summary

Executive summary

This report outlines the Commission’s assessment of the key issues faced in making gambling fairer, safer and crime free. We have used our insight, research and casework to assess the risks and challenges in gambling through four different lenses – the Person, the Place, the Products and the Provider. We will continue to develop our assessment to help inform stakeholders.

This assessment also sets out our priority actions to enable us to address these issues. We have also included in this document an overview of progress that has been made since April 2019, the start of the last business year.

Evidence tells us that gambling participation is not increasing, but ways of gambling are changing. At an overall level, participation rates have remained stable in recent years. At the same time problem gambling rates are not increasing, the data indicates that the rate of problem gambling has been statistically stable since 2012. Nevertheless, it is important that we continue to develop a robust understanding of how different groups within society, particularly those who are more vulnerable, are experiencing gambling-related harm. The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms (opens in new tab) sets out how a public health approach will help identify and reduce these harms.

Risks and issues set out across the four chapters of this assessment include ineffective ‘know your customer’ approaches including affordability checks by operators; the need for early identification and action to at-risk behaviours; the availability of online gambling; advertising; safer online and platform games and the characteristics of high risk products. Other issues highlighted include underage gambling; ownership and governance of gambling providers; and gaps in the evidence and understanding of gambling-related harms.

Good regulation is informed by good evidence. We continually seek to improve the evidence base; to have access to better data, to move away from just counting problem gamblers to understand more about specific gambling related harms. We also highlight further research outputs on why people chose to gamble and the benefits they derive from it.

We want industry to do more to understand their customers and end the distinction between regulatory and commercial considerations – that means engaging on big topics like developing credible affordability solutions, making products safer by design and building dynamic player-centric safeguards. We must see the industry doing more to proactively identify and address the risks within their businesses. An approach to raising standards for consumers which is heavily dependent on the Commission using its formal regulatory powers will continue to damage the industry’s reputation, restrict activities and result in escalating penalties.

As a regulator we will do more to demonstrate the impact of our regulation and where we are making progress in changing the behaviours of operators. As such, we will be preparing key metrics to address this.

This assessment has been prepared amid the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts of the pandemic now and moving forward are still being assessed and will shape the gambling industry and its regulation in the years to come.

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Chief Executive's foreword
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The person gambling
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