UK Gambling Commission chief calls for more experimentation

UK Gambling Commission chief calls for more experimentation

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Industry can do more to engage with consumers

The chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission said the industry should not be frightened to fail in its task of seeking our new and innovative ways to connect with its customers and provide consistent standards of protection and consumer safeguards.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Betting and Gaming at Westminster today, Sarah Harrison said the customer-first message was still vital. “Our message, we do look to the industry to employ all the energy, creativity and innovation at your disposal to understanding the consumer,” she said. “That remains a really strong principle for us.”

“We would encourage the industry not to be afraid to experiment,” she continued. “Innovation by its nature is about succeeding but it is also about failing. We really want to see operators think creatively about different ways of engaging with their customers and thinking differently about what interventions are appropriate.”

Evidence of the industry learning not just from the experience of the other companies working in the sector but also from outside was desirable. She noted that in the fintech space, the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), had moved to institute a “regulatory sandbox” approach in order to encourage innovation. Though stopping short of endorsing such an approach for the gambling industry, she said she did see value in companies being encouraged to look differently at their approaches to the consumer.

“We need to see more of culture change,” she said. “You are beginning to see that, I’ve seen that in the time I’ve been in the role, but it needs businesses being entirely focused on their customers and in some senses being less focused on the regulator.”

Harrison, who took over the top role at the Commission last year, said the body is now undertaking a review of the point of consumption regime introduced in late 2014 in order to consider how well it is working.

She said the review was timely. “We see now as the right moment to reflect on the PoC regime and consider how well that is working,” she told the audience.

The online gambling sector is the subject of a number of enquiries and investigations at present including the government’s triennial review (which is looking among other things at the issue of the preponderance of gambling advertisements on TV) and the CMA enquiry into the terms and conditions that surround bonuses and free bets.

Harrison said the results of the CMA enquiry would play into the Commission’s own review. “Any output from that process will be drawn into our overall review,” she said.

She said her message to the gambling sector was to keep focused on the wants of the consumer.

Totally Gaming says: The focus on the consumer mantra of the Gambling Commission isn’t just rhetoric; bearing in mind the evidence from the recent participation survey of the falling lack of trust in gambling as an industry – and in particular among those who gamble – proves the point perhaps that the industry has not been doing enough to win over the public’s trust.

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