Speaking at the latest GambleAware conference, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Chris Philp used his speech to underline the importance of a collaborative approach when it comes to tackling gambling harm. 

He cited the role of the lived experience community, researchers, treatment providers, industry and the Government to combine expertise and prevent gambling harm across the spectrum. 

During his speech he also placed a heightened focus on affordability  – a subject elevated during the pandemic and that will likely play a factor in potential legislation changes following the review of the UK Gambling Act. 

He stated: “To be workable and prevent harm, affordability checks need to be proportionate. As the Commission has said, demanding payslips or bank statements from every customer spending £100 or so is likely to be unwelcome, disruptive and disproportionate to the risks. But there is a level that is appropriate.

“As minister for Digital, I am really keen to explore the role of technology and available data, such as that held by credit reference agencies, to make these sorts of checks work smoothly in a way that is acceptable to customers. At high levels of gambling, more intrusive checks are appropriate. I also want to be clear that checks based on spend and financial circumstances must supplement rather than supersede all the existing requirements on operators to monitor play data, identify risk and intervene accordingly.”

He went on to map out that in the near future, governance will lay out its requirement on interventions, as it continues to assess the most effective strategy on affordability. 

In terms of safety tools, he lauded the role and impact of GAMSTOP, the multi-operator online self-exclusion scheme, with it being a key example of the benefits from sector-wide protections which capitalise on the available technology to do things better. 

“Like GAMSTOP, a single customer view (SCV) solution will protect a person, not just their account with one operator”, he added.

“It is of course vital that any data sharing is done safely, securely and proportionately. I am glad the Commission has worked closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office which has now confirmed that a single customer view can be delivered with these values at its core.”

Reacting to the Minister’s comments, Zoe Osmund, GambleAware CEO, welcomed the government’s commitment to plans to uphold industry standards and implement a form of affordability check along with a single customer view and a data repository.

The CEO stated: “We are also pleased to hear that the government endorses stronger collaboration between treatment providers, policymakers, and the industry in supporting those at risk of experiencing gambling harms. 

“We have long called for a whole system approach to addressing the prevalence of gambling harms in Great Britain, as the only way to comprehensively support those in need.

“We welcome the Minister’s confirmation that the Government is reviewing the funding model for treatment, prevention and research. We have been consistently clear that mandatory funding is the only way to ensure that support to address gambling harms gets the resource required.”