Gambling Commission welcomes UK betting firms’ self-policing pledge

Gambling Commission welcomes UK betting firms’ self-policing pledge

Monday, September 15, 2014

The UK Gambling Commission has welcomed a commitment by Britain’s four biggest bookmakers to advertise more responsibly and self-regulate standards in the industry.

William Hill, Ladbrokes, Gala Coral and Paddy Power said in an open letter that they would sign up to a set of rules and establish a watchdog in response to concerns about gambling in Britain and gambling-related advertising on television.

Other companies, such as Betfred and Bet365, have been invited to join the new watchdog, which has been dubbed the ‘Senet Group’ and will launch in January.

“We welcome this initiative and look forward to the commitments being translated into action. We hope it will gain traction across the industry more widely,” a spokesperson for the Gambling Commission told TotallyGaming.com.

“For a number of years we have been challenging gambling operators to put social responsibility at the heart of what they do. Achieving this will require serious leadership from within the industry, as well as firm regulation.

“The establishment of the Senet Group has the potential to focus some of that leadership effort.

“As we understand it, the main role of the Senet Group is to devise and maintain voluntary standards agreed by its members, in certain key areas.

“This has to take place against the backdrop of the law set by Parliament, the suite of licence conditions and codes of practice developed and enforced by the Gambling Commission, and the collected advice and good practice already collected and disseminated to the industry, across all aspects of gambling and applicable to all operators.”

The Senet Group will be chaired by an independent standards commissioner.

According to the open letter, the four companies have also agreed to a number of self-imposed changes from the start of October.

The measures include a voluntary ban on showing sign-up offers on television before 9pm, the withdrawal of all gaming machine advertising from betting shop windows and committing 20% of shop window advertising to responsible gambling messages.

The companies will also fund a “major advertising campaign” to educate people about responsible gambling and will provide more prominent responsible gambling messages on television advertisements.

“These undertakings come from the four of us, but we know that across the industry many others have high standards in their commitment to responsible gambling, and we invite them to join us,” the companies said in a joint statement.

However, a spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling added: “The Gambling Commission is the government appointed ‘watchdog’ – a body which should ensure that the licensing objectives of fair and open gambling, no association with crime and protection of young and vulnerable persons are delivered.

“However, to date no meaningful fines or loss of licenses have been imposed on operators for breaches of these objectives, including anti-money laundering or social responsibility controls. This is also demonstrated by poor records when it comes to allowing under-age access to FOBTs.”

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