The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has released its annual report for the 2016-2017 financial year, with figures revealing an increase in player protection and higher standards across the board.
The report expands from 1st April 2016 to 28th March 2017, with highlights including the launch of a strategy to improve customer engagement and the Commission joining forces with other regulatory partners like the Competitions and Markets Authority and Advertising Standards Authority to combat unfair and misleading advertising practices by online operators.
The introduction of assurance statements also helped set the social responsibility agenda with the board of operators, while a revision of the Commission’s approach to enforcement has helped increase overall industry standards.
The report re-establishes the Commission’s mission, which is to regulate the UK gambling industry in the best public interest, ensuring gambling remains free from crime or disorder, that all gambling is conducted in a fair and open way and that children and vulnerable people are protected from the potential harm caused by gambling.
A message from the Commission’s chairman William Moyes said, “We, and policy-makers, need to understand better the risks posed by online gambling and what might be the most effective methods of regulating this industry to keep up-to-date with the constant evolution that online gambling offers.
“We are carrying out a considerable amount of work to better understand and address the risks posed by this market. In focusing on online gambling, we are working closely with the Advertising Standards Authority, the Competition and Markets Authority and other agencies. We hope to publish our thinking early in 2018.”
The Commission seems to be putting a greater focus on the National Lottery, to ensure every lottery is run in due propriety and that the proceeds of the National Lottery are as great as possible. A new National Lottery license competition will be considered, which Mr Moyes says will be a few years away but requires “considerable effort” to ensure the right framework is developed.
Some key figures about the UK’s gambling industry during the year included:
- A total gross gambling yield (amount retained by operators after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of the costs of the operation) of £13.8 billion
- Online gross gambling yield of £4.5 billion
- 106,678 staff employed across the gambling industry, down 0.4% from same time last year
- 8,788 betting shops across the UK, a 1.4% decrease from same time last year
- £1.6 billion of contributions made to good causes from the National Lottery, a 15% decrease from same time last year
Data drawn from four quarterly telephone surveys of 4,000 participants revealed:
- Approximately 25 million adults (48%) had gambled in the last four weeks
- Nearly 9 million adults had gambled online in the last four weeks
- An estimated 320,000 adults (1.3% of gamblers) are problem gamblers
- 39% of people think gambling is associated with criminal activity
- 69% of people think gambling is dangerous for family life
- 77% of online gamblers do not read the terms and conditions
- People think the most important policy issue is protecting children from gambling, followed by the regulation of non-UK based gambling companies
The comprehensive 2016-2017 annual report and all statistics can be viewed at the official United Kingdom Gambling Commission website.
Chief executive Sarah Harrison said, “Our new Chairman, Bill Moyes, and Board members bring a wealth of experience and I am confident that, working with the excellent and committed Commission staff we will make good progress in the coming year towards a new strategy and further action to safeguard consumers and raise standards.”