Andrew Rhodes, the interim CEO of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), has offered his thoughts on the regulatory position of the industry during Safer Gambling Week.
Publishing a blog post on the Commission’s website, Rhodes stated that his department still required “to see much greater compliance from the industry across the board”.
Metaphorically, Rhodes expressed that UKGC’s job should be like that of a football referee, as during the best matches “you don’t notice his presence, clean competition, where no one’s hurt and everyone goes home having been entertained”.
“In an ideal world we would have little to do. But we’re nowhere near that. The last few years is a tale of escalating enforcement by the Commission, not less,” Rhodes remarked.
“Now we want to get to that ideal, with the level of harm caused by gambling dwindling, and having a constructive and collaborative relationship with industry can be part of how we get there.”
The interim Chief noted that all stakeholders must acknowledge shared facts to ensure proper compliance, citing research finding that over 40% of the UK population participated in gambling over the past four weeks, with half of the consumers choosing to play online.
Rhodes added: “At over £14 billion, gambling in Great Britain is the size of British agriculture. £450 per second was lost by people gambling in Great Britain in 2019/20. For millions, this is the cost of having a good time.
“But for hundreds of thousands of people, it’s problem gambling. It is harm.”
In his short tenure as UKGC CEO, Rhodes reflected that he understood that “there is nothing static about gambling” and that the Commission must prioritise driving levels of gambling harm down.
Rhodes backed the UKGC in maintaining its collaborative approach to developing a Single Customer View, the headline project of the Commission’s new three-year strategy that secured its phase-1 GDPR ICO approval last month.
It is intended that a Single Customer View will safeguard UK gambling with a cross operator view on a customer’s gambling habits to identify potential risks and harms.
“Good operators don’t want to serve a customer who has already had enough elsewhere. The Single Customer View is about preventing just that. We know it’s technically possible.
“The ICO has published on how it can be done safely, protecting people’s data. It’s now for the industry to trial a solution.”