Gambling Commission lays out plan for “constructive, grown up relationship” with operators

Andrew Rhodes explains closer working partnership with firms will allow for greater scope to tackle “difficult issues” in delivering white paper aims
The post Gambling Commission lays out plan for “constructive, grown up relationship” with operators first appeared on EGR Intel.  

Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes has said the regulator is looking to forge a “constructive, grown-up relationship” with operators following the publication of updated affordability check rules.

Speaking at the Bingo Association AGM last week, Rhodes told the gathered audience that in the last financial year, he and his senior team had more than 250 meetings and visits with stakeholders, the majority of which were with gambling firms.

In his address, the CEO said that building out a more conducive relationship with the sector would be mutually beneficial to both sides.

Rhodes’ comments come after the Gambling Commission published its response to the first consultation period for the white paper into the Gambling Act 2005 review.

That response included a shift in how operators will be required to measure affordability, along with updates to marketing and age verification regulations.

The CEO revealed the regulator was actively looking to improve its processes with operators to deliver a stronger working partnership.

Rhodes said: “For our part, myself, my senior team and everyone else at the Commission are looking to move the dial towards a more constructive, grown-up relationship with you [operators].

“We are currently running a pilot on how our operations teams – compliance and licensing in particular – can work with operators on account management. Actively setting up better ways for us to communicate with you and hear what you have got to say about the fundamentals about your business in return. 

“We are committed to this approach. But we can only pursue this while industry compliance is meeting our level of ambition.

“But a more grown-up relationship, does not mean things are always easier. Often it means you just have the space to tackle even more difficult issues, which have no shortage of in the delivery of the government’s white paper,” he added.

Elsewhere, Rhodes touched on the upcoming release of the Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB), which is expected to be published in July.

The new data collection method, which has initially suggested 48% of the population gamble at least once a month, could well put the percentage of those suffering from gambling-related harm at a higher level than previously thought.

The study has also been pulled apart by Patrick Sturgis, professor of Quantitative Social Science at London School of Economics (LSE), in which he pointed to several recommendations to improve the process.

Rhodes noted that Sturgis had been clear that “persisting with the current approach is not viable” in terms of the historical data collection method as he moved to dispel potential concerns ahead of the report’s release.

He said: “Some of you may be worried that the new methodology, when it reports for the first time, official statistics on the impacts of gambling this Summer, may have negative consequences.

“Now, as I said, we note the risks and will provide full briefing to the media, stakeholders and publish guidance on how the new data should be used or interpreted. And of course, we will continue to develop the GSGB over time.

“But there is no turning back the clock on this and nor should there be. Professor Sturgis makes clear, previous methodologies are no longer delivering like they used to.

“It simply is not credible to persist with a methodology that is outdated and has the gaps in evidence we have experienced. The Commission has taken the steps we have in order to both safeguard and improve our data and we will continue to do so,” he added.

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