Can UK act as benchmark in tackling problem gambling?

Can UK act as benchmark in tackling problem gambling?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
GamCare CEO to discuss sector’s challenges at WrB

GamCare chief executive Dirk Hansen wants the gaming sector to use next month’s World Regulatory Briefing (WrB) in London to reiterate its combined commitment to preventing and treating problem gambling.

The head of the UK problem gambling charity will lead a WrB discussion entitled ‘How can Responsible Gambling standards help facilitate legislative harmonisation across Europe?’ He is looking forward to using the London event as an opportunity for operators, regulators and other parties to look at ways to work together.

Hansen, who joined GamCare in early 2013, is positive about the way the ecosystem surrounding the industry works together to deal with social issues in the UK, and believes that further dialogue can only aid the development of a united strategy.

“I hope to outline further how the structure in the UK works efficiently and effectively to support problem gamblers and other vulnerable groups,” he told TotallyGaming.com.

“Also, I want to look at the importance of establishing consumer/player protection at the heart of any operation, and how this strand can unite regulation throughout the European Union (EU).

“The recent past has seen some substantial development in protective measures for players, as well as more strategic approaches to social responsibility within the corporate structure of gambling companies in the UK.

“This has led to greater robustness of operational policies and procedures, but also greater awareness of problem gambling in general. From our perspective, there is a sense of engagement that is growing amongst operators, which is vital for the success of any policy.

“Even amongst players, we are seeing better understanding about problem gambling and about where to get help.”

Hansen, originally from Seattle in the US, is confident that the UK framework is offering a good level of protection to gamblers. 

He admits that he would like to learn more about the relationships between interested parties in other jurisdictions, and believes that one area of improvement in the UK would be a more unified self-exclusion policy.

“I would hope that the UK can act as a benchmark for other European countries,” he said. “As new and effective responsible gambling measures are introduced throughout all gambling operators, and strong co-ordination with advice and treatment organisations like GamCare develops further, then we can continue to be an example for others to follow.

“One focal point for improvement is the development of a successful multi-operator self-exclusion programme.

“There are good initiatives underway, and it will take time to get it right, but it will be worth the effort.  Self-exclusion is not a panacea for problem gambling, but it can be a very useful tool for those seeking change.”

GamCare, which was founded in 1997, is a provider of information, advice, support and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling in the UK, and is funded primarily by the Responsible Gambling Trust. It offers help to problem gamblers and their families via the National Gambling Helpline, its website and through a national network of counsellors.

As well as its primary objective – of offering advice and treatment to individuals - GamCare has also found an increasingly important role in advising gambling operators, regulators and other professional organisations regarding problem gambling and player protection.

Hansen believes that GamCare has a strong relationship with these groups, which can only be a benefit to the public.

“With an informed perspective drawn from daily contact with problem gamblers, we believe that we are well positioned to add value to the ongoing discussion around policy and consumer protection,” said Hansen, whose background is in counselling and mental health service operations.

“The relationship between us and the operators and other groups is strong and respectful. We do our best to remain involved in various industry efforts that encourage social responsibility, and we are often asked to offer perspective to operators as they develop their products and policies.

“Occasionally, our team will offer more clinically related perspective or guidance to operators who are dealing with complex problem gamblers, reviewing how best to get those individuals the help they need.

“We also work closely with the Responsible Gambling Trust to promote the services available through external and internal advertising within the gambling industry – particularly promoting the National Gambling Helpline.”

WrB takes place in London on September 10. Visit www.wrbriefing.com for further information.

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