Off the back of new regulations to reduce gambling harm in physical casinos, a new scheme to bring about harm minimisation across the entire industry has been announced this week. The harm prevention strategy, known as the National Responsible Gambling Strategy, has been produced by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB).
Christopher Kelly, who acted as chair on the strategy, has held that the RGSB has no authority to bring about the strategy, rather that it must rely on the persuasiveness of its argument to inspire others in power to bring it to fruition.
The Priorities of The National Responsible Gambling Strategy
The strategy is primarily comprised of 12 priority actions that the RGSB believe to be the primary focus in order to reduce the harm brought about by gambling.
The main objective is harm minimisation, but the sub objectives for the foreseeable future are to bring about a collective of key groups that influence gambling products, social research, law and education, in order to build a better framework for dealing with problem gambling.
Those 12 priority actions are:
- Further research into understanding and measuring harm, outside of simply counting the number of problem gamblers
- Call to action for relevant public sector bodies to encourage greater acceptance of responsibility for delivering the strategy
- Consolidating a culture of evaluation and creating an information network of previous successes and failures in tackling problem gambling
- Understand how product characteristics (e.g stake size or slot aesthetics) and environmental characteristics (e.g premises location or layout) contribute towards gambling-related harm
- Improving methods of identifying harmful play, either through improved staff training or better remote prevention methods
- Improving intervention methods and how casinos can better approach customers to alert them of suspected problem gambling
- Improved self-exclusion, in terms of both better informing players of when they should exclude and simplified methods for players to actually carry it out
- Better education to prevent gambling-related harm, through schools and online sources
- Building the quality and capacity of treatment, based on improved data regarding the habits of problem gamblers
- Widening and strengthening the research field, and improving knowledge exchange
- Horizon scanning and the need to understand how the gambling market, or factors which may affect it, are developing and to identify emerging risks
- Increasing public engagement, primarily through education to better understand problem gambling
The Effect On The Consumer
The RGSB make a point of saying that the strategy isn't designed with the aim of restricting gamblers. In fact, they claim they “work within the context of the view held by successive governments since the Gambling Act 2005 that gambling should be regarded as a legitimate leisure time activity”.
But they note it is a leisure activity with very negative consequences for some and it's those players they wish to protect. Their aim is to deal with the issues before they present themselves and not simply deal with the consequences when the damage has been done.
The strategy aims to create balance between regulatory requirements intended to reduce harm and the desirability of giving players the freedom to choose how to spend their leisure time. “Part of our role is to provide advice on how best to achieve that balance”.