Safer gambling campaigner: Industry can protect players without losing out to the black market

Campaigner Tony Franklin explains why gambling transaction limits could benefit operators and players alike 

A new report from PwC that warns of the risk of overregulation of the UK gambling sector driving consumers to the UK black market is nothing more than a blatant attempt by the industry to fight back against the increasingly tougher regulatory environment it finds itself operating within.

The report itself was commissioned and funded by William Hill and GVC and finds that the ‘active’ black market in the UK is worth £1.4bn in stakes, or a relatively low 1.2% of total turnover.

The perceived risk to the growth of the UK black market stems from the increased friction requirements that are set to be introduced next year or are under consultation currently. Many of these requirements should have been imposed long ago such as upfront age verification, source of income/wealth, and affordability checks.

The gambling industry historically built an operating model where far too much profit was coming from those experiencing gambling harm. This is now changing but increased public and political awareness of this harm has led to an erosion of trust in the gambling industry. They have reached the point where they need to face up to the beast that they have created.

In many respects some of the friction being proposed by campaigners should protect against the growth of the gambling black market and at the same time encourage people to gamble within their limits of affordability.

For example, having a default daily gambling transaction spend limit on all payment cards similar to an ATM withdrawal limit would put a hard block there for somebody who gambled regularly but then started to experience an escalation in their gambling spending.

For this person, hitting a limit might trigger a change in behaviour, or they might ring the bank to ask why the transaction had been declined and to request the payment to be put through. In this scenario and if deemed an appropriate course of action the person could be signposted to sources of help for gambling addiction.

For the majority a default spend limit would be a non-intrusive way to put in place harm minimisation measures. Most would never even know it is there, a policy no different to the ATM limit. For the odd occasion we need more there is always a work around.

These measures, and similar to gambling transaction blockers being introduced by the banks, would apply equally to gambling sites wherever regulated that are processing transactions in accordance to payment provider scheme rules.

It is time for the industry to accept these measures and run a business that makes profit from more people spending less. The days of people losing £1,000s in minutes which they can’t afford must be consigned to history.

Contributed by Tony Franklin – safer gambling campaigner

GVC Holdings | PwC | Regulation | Responsible gambling | William Hill