Industry reaction: Safer Gambling Week 2023

Responsible Gambling

Safer Gambling Week is an annual campaign to promote safer gambling across the UK and Ireland with the support of a wide range of partners.

This annual event aims to stimulate conversations around safer gambling and drive awareness of: How to approach gambling more safely – questions to ask and behaviours to consider, the tools that are available to help people gamble more safely all year round.

Operator commentary

Lebby Eyres, CEO at The Health Lottery, said:

“The Health Lottery is committed to responsible gambling and is always pleased to show its support for Safer Gambling Week.

“We will be distributing enhanced safer gambling messaging directly to players and on social media throughout the week. We’ve also arranged additional staff training to make sure everyone in the team keeps the vulnerable firmly at the forefront of everything we do.

“Safer Gambling Week is a valuable opportunity to encourage everyone who gambles to take time out to think about how much time and money they spend. For those who recognise that they may have lost their way, it’s about reminding them of the tools that are available and urging them to seek help at the earliest opportunity, in order to take back control of their lives.

“As well as highlighting the vital work of the many excellent gambling support networks, it’s an opportunity to show the wider public that the gambling sector is united in its aim to provide a safe environment for people to play and have fun. “We wish everyone happy and healthy play, this week and always.”

Legal commentary

Felix Faulkner, solicitor at Poppleston Allen, said:

“Given we are in the midst of a review of the UK’s gambling laws, this year’s Safer Gambling Week is perhaps more important than ever. As a firm, throughout the week we will be running an extensive social media campaign to promote responsible gaming throughout our network.

“Unfortunately, this year we have seen several failings from gambling operators on the social responsibility front, with some large financial penalties handed out by the Gambling Commission and also the relatively rarely used sanction of a licence suspension.

“In addition, we’ve seen a number of operators fall foul of the rules related to the prohibition of gambling marketing with ‘strong appeal’ to children introduced by the Committee for Advertising Practice last year. In particular, there have been several cases where operators persist with arguments that the Advertising Standards Authority has already made clear it does not agree with, leading to some very similar rulings being handed down against operators.

“The vast majority of gambling operators in the UK market act responsibly, but the few that do not generate negative press that sometimes taints the entire industry. Safer Gambling Week is a good time to urge all operators to have systems in place to ensure they stay well within the current rules and regulations.

“With a general election looming, we expect that some of the proposals in the White Paper and the subsequent consultations may fall by the wayside, but we believe those related to safer gambling are the most likely to be prioritised by the current government. Specifically, these include proposals such as a gambling ombudsman and the statutory levy.”

Affiliate commentary 

Andrew Lee, group operations director at QiH Group, said:

“Affiliates generate a significant percentage of the new customers delivered to gaming companies in the UK and for many players, they are the first point of contact with a gambling website. At QiH Group, we therefore feel affiliates should have a strong sense of responsibility towards players and that it’s just as important they are invested in promoting safer gambling as the operators they work with are.

“We are fully behind this year’s Safer Gambling Week, with support for its social media campaign and also our own social media activity. It’s important to remember though that it isn’t just about one week; responsible gambling should be something all companies involved in the industry are constantly thinking about. For this reason, we regularly raise awareness of the topic in weekly staff meetings throughout the year and we also make sure new staff receive adequate training in the area.

“Compliance is embedded in the DNA of our company and we always take care not to push the boundaries in terms of our advertising. There is sometimes a very thin line between being compliant and non-compliant and we don’t want to be close to that line.

“Affiliates have a duty to advertise responsibly and many operator partners also have specific requirements in terms of links to responsible gambling organisations, but this should be seen as a minimum and there’s no reason affiliates can’t go above and beyond that. For example, at QiH Group we have made sure all of our UK sites have extended safer gambling messaging and we also regularly add responsible gambling messages to our email communications. We see such initiatives as important as a responsible affiliate working with the biggest UK operators.”