Why Safer Gambling Week is only part of the story

Next week is Safer Gambling Week in both the UK and Ireland. Indeed, it is also European Safer Gambling Week, a fact that demonstrates how the responsible gambling narrative continues to spread internationally.

Whilst it may be fashionable in some quarters to question whether any industry-sponsored initiative really makes much of a difference, we do believe that awareness campaigns can be part of a broad approach to making gambling as safe as possible. 

Over the past decade or so, there has been a concerted effort to both give consumers the means to control their gambling, and also advertise their availability. Safer gambling television messages have gone from the grudging and factual, to the genuinely compelling: adverts that look like they mean it.

And this activity has coincided with a reduction in the rates of problem gambling in the UK, as reported by the Gambling Commission - not the industry themselves. So while it is easy to be cynical about industry initiatives relating to safer gambling, the evidence suggests that these campaigns can and do make a difference.

That perspective is confirmed by our own experience with a wide range of operators, large and small. In all our conversations, we meet compliance teams who are genuinely determined to do their bit when it comes to reducing the harms that can be caused by gambling. And whilst it would be naive to pretend that commercial considerations don’t also come into play (these are for-profit organisations after all), there’s a genuine sense that responsible business is good, sustainable, business: most understand that the industry as a whole needs to stay on the right side of the player safety argument.

So operators are willing to play their part. The question then becomes how best to do that.

How operators can help consumers gamble safely

One frequent criticism of the type of activity we see in Safer Gambling Week is that it places the responsibility firmly on the consumer. For better or worse, the implied message is that “it’s up to you to manage your betting and remain safe”. 

That isn’t entirely fair - operators do after all create the products that enable customers to control their play - but it is sometimes seen as the reality. 

So if consumers are being asked to play their part, what can we expect from operators? In broad terms, their responsibility has already been made clear by the Gambling Commission (GC): ensure that customers can afford to lose the money they spend, and that that same money comes from legitimate sources.

In other words, operators need to ensure that their customers cannot get into significant financial difficulty. To do that, of course, it is necessary to view real financial data (the GC have been pretty clear on that point). And this, as regular blog readers will know, is precisely the job ClearStake was built to do. 

We make it easy for customers to share financial data in a variety of ways, including:

  • Enabling customers to connect their bank account (or multiple bank accounts) at the touch of button
  • Allowing customers to share physical statements if they prefer, either via ClearStake or by sending or handing them to the operator (who can then upload themselves)
  • Classifying income and spending, and performing the calculations that then determine the true financial situation of a customer, and
  • Applying the compliance rules used by the organisation against that data, and generating recommendations based on those rules automatically

All this means that customers can share data easily, and perhaps more importantly again get approved as quickly as possible

That, in turn, means retaining more of the customers who go through these checks. It reduces the burden on the customer, and gives them less time to look around and consider their options whilst waiting for a decision.

Although it is never likely to be the focus of Safer Gambling Week, we believe that ClearStake gives operators what they need to protect their customers, whilst doing everything possible to allow those who can afford it to stake freely. As such, we help make gambling safer for everyone, improve the reputation of the industry, and in many cases actually improve top-line revenue. 

Over the past few weeks, we have begun rolling out our latest product, incorporating statement scanning, to operators. What better way to celebrate Safer Gambling Week than joining them!