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What Impact Did Safer Gambling Week Have?

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Safer Gambling Week is a cross-industry initiative created by a number of important names within the gambling industry; the UK Gambling Commission and charities like Gamble Aware UK join forces with a number of local groups and charities. The aim of the event is to promote safer gambling practices, educate young people, teachers and social workers on the dangers of problem gambling and encourage consumers who think they may have a problem with gambling to seek help.

Who Takes Part in Safer Gambling Week?

Safer Gambling Week partners with bookmakers and casinos (both online and in-store) to increase signage that supports their customers and increase the amount and availability of advice for problem gamblers. The charities involved also run workshops and training for casinos and bookmakers to help them look after their customers and spot the signs of gambling addiction.

In a recent interview Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Michael Dugher talked about the importance of Safer Gambling Week. Running since 2017 he said that Safer Gambling Week is now an established event and it’s having a positive effect. According to his statistics, over 2 million people now use deposit limits which is a tool offered by BGC members.

Safer Gambling Week’s own website also talks about what some of its volunteers do. A big part of the event includes readying UK gambling charities to be busier than normal and gives them access to more volunteers to help.

Has Safer Gambling Week Made a Difference?

Although it would be impossible to say whether Safer Gambling Week has been a direct influence, we do know that the UK Gambling Commission have made several changes to gambling rules and regulations. In recent years the UK has led the way in increasing gambling reforms, helped in part by campaigning undertaken by UK gambling charities, Safer Gambling Week and supporters. One of the biggest topics in the past year has been advertising at football matches. While bookmakers aren’t allowed to advertise before 9 pm, a legal loophole allows them to sponsor a team’s uniforms which might see their name appearing on TV in the afternoon when younger people are likely to be watching. It also makes it harder for problem gamblers to watch the match without thinking about gambling again. Thanks to successful campaigning across the country the UK government is now in talks to ban this practice.

Is Gambling a Problem?

While the conversation around problem gambling is growing louder globally, some countries are quicker to get to work than others. Currently, the USA doesn’t have a national gambling regulator and the federal health agency doesn’t fund support for problem gambling.

Currently, support for problem gamblers is the responsibility of each state and it’s up to them how much they choose to spend on the issue. This may, however, be more of a cultural issue. In the UK betting has been a big part of British culture, with going to the races and “having a flutter” being a typical middle-class activity. By comparison, sports’ betting was illegal in the states until 2018 on a federal level and it was then left for individual states to vote to legalise the practice in their jurisdiction. Of all of the states that have legalised sports betting, only half have dedicated some of the revenue generated to minimise harm and eight states outright refuse to provide any public funds to prevent or treat gambling addictions.

It’s entirely possible that money hasn’t been dedicated to helping problem gamblers because it’s not enough of an issue yet. The UK has allowed gambling for so long that it’s become ingrained in the culture. After three years of legal gambling, it’s difficult to know how much money to dedicate to a cause that doesn’t really exist yet.

There are some restrictions surrounding betting in the US, but it’s again done on a state by state basis. Some of the main practices involve restricting the sale of alcohol in casinos, restricting credit, treatment and research funding and requiring companies to have a responsible gambling plan. While all states have some measures in place only Pennsylvania has all of these required by law.

There are many differences between UK and US support for problem gamblers. Some of that is down to geography and how the government is run; some of the difference is caused by gambling being taboo in the US. However, what is clear is that Safer Gambling Week is having a positive effect on reducing the number of problem gamblers in the UK and encouraging them to get help.

What Is The Gambling Industry Doing?

On the surface at least the gambling industry is keen to show that they are promoting safe gambling. It is likely that they will want this to continue, after all no one wants to be involved in an industry that makes its money from the financial hardship of others. The most recent UK Gambling Commission legislation came into play at the end of October but many gambling platforms implemented the necessary changes long before it became law that they do so. This was a way of them showing support of the new regulations that were put in place and helped give their users peace of mind that they have their wellbeing at heart. 

Click here to see how gambling sites promote safer gambling online. Although casinos are keen to reel punters in with special offers and bonuses, they also want to make sure that those players are likely to come back and bet with them again. By not following a responsible gambling pattern, they are likely to have people that can only afford to come and bet once – and no industry wants customers that are never going to be repeat purchasers. As such, Safer Gambling Week is a great way to highlight the issues around gambling and make it a safe, long-term pastime for everyone involved and that can only be a good thing!