RGA chief warns of ‘too many consultations’

RGA chief warns of ‘too many consultations’

Friday, November 25, 2016 Posted by Scott Longley
Industry under ever-increasing scrutiny suggests Hawkswood

The chief executive of the Remote Gaming Association (RGA) said the industry is suffering from “consultation overland” after the recent announcements of reviews on the part of the government, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Information Commissioner’s Office in recent weeks.

Taking the opportunity of the organisation’s AGM this week, Clive Hawkswood said it was “frustrating” to be answering so many questions all at once. “At times, we’ve been dealing with six different consultations all at the same time,” he told RGA members.

“It would be good if it could be coordinated,” he added.

Alongside the announcement of the Triennial Review – which includes taking a look at the issue of TV ads for gambling pre-watershed – the CMA has launched an enquiry into the way the industry offers bonuses and promotions and the ICO said it will be looking into how the gambling sector affiliates handles personal information.

Another study coming down the track is the imminent GambleAware study into harm minimisation, due in the early part of December. Hawkswood warned that though there would be some data made available in this area, there was a “danger that expectations are unreasonably high” about what the data will mean. “Big data has its limitations,” he added.

“We are best-placed to make a success of (the use of big data),” he said. “But it is not the panacea for the whole responsible gambling issue.”

The Gambling Commission has made much in recent months of the efforts it would like to see the industry making with regard to utilising its knowledge of the customer in order to avoid problem gambling issues. In a recent speech, chief executive Sarah Harrison said: “The simple answer is that we think more could be done to put consumers at the heart of everything the operator does, and at a faster pace – whether that is commercial gambling operators or the National Lottery operator.”

With regard to the Triennial Review, Hawkswood sidestepped the issues around stakes limits on machines but he did say that the RGA was “anxious” that the decisions made on TV advertising were “evidence-based”. “I hope they won’t be swayed by people with moral objections to gambling or schizophrenic media organisations.”

He added that advertising had been “bolted on” to the Triennial Review, despite a Gambling Commission review having taken place as recently as 2015. “It all seems a bit strange,” he added.

Dealing with hints that the treasury might be looking at further increases in tax for the remote industry once it has extended the duty regime to encompass bonuses for gaming and bingo in lien with sports-betting, Hawkswood cautioned against the government being “too greedy”.

Turning to events elsewhere, Hawkswood also gave a brief rundown of the various territories across Europe where the RGA was involved in discussions, including Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic. With regard to Poland, he said the RGA was hopeful that it could persuade the Polish government to switch from what the RGA argues is an unworkable turnover tax to a gross gaming revenue regime. “That’s a big challenge to get them to switch,” he said.

Totally Gaming says: As Hawkswood suggests, the RGA has a lot on its plate in the UK right now, let alone in the rest of Europe. The big question is whether all this activity will die down in the year ahead. Once the Triennial review is out of the way, it should leave the industry clear in the UK for a while, leaving the RGA to fight the gross gaming revenue fight elsewhere, and particularly in Poland.

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