UKGC Questioned by House of Lords
by Glenn Baird - February 12, 2020
The Chief Executive of the UKGC, Neil McArthur gave evidence yesterday in front of the House of Lords Select Committee which was investigating the ‘social and economic impact of the Gambling Industry’.
The meeting lasted 2 hours, during which McArthur, who was accompanied by the Commission’s Chairman, Dr Bill Moyes, answered multiple questions about the regulation of an industry that is finding itself under increased levels of scrutiny in the UK’s mainstream media.
Questions were asked over the founding of the 2005 Gambling Act, and whether or not the legislation drawn up 15 years ago is fit for purpose in 2020.
Whilst Dr Moyes admitted the Gambling Act has its problems he went on to state that it’s core principles “remain broadly relevant in making sure that gambling is safe and fair, vulnerable people are protected and at stopping crime getting a hold on gambling”.
“Mostly we still find that the legislation facilitates what we want to do,” he said. “The question of whether a government is right to promote gambling is more a matter of public policy rather than the legislation itself.”
McArthur deems Consistency to be the most important element allowing the UKGC to “balance the consumer choice of an industry in which 24 million people gamble in the UK, against the fact that gambling harm is a problem for a significant number of people, 340,000 according to our latest statistics with a further 5 million marked as vulnerable”.
Lord Garde then altered the direction of the questioning, bringing up the role of the media and its influence on problem gamble before accusing the Commission of being reactive instead of proactive on this issue.
The example of credit card use was highlighted, with claims that the UKGC only acted on the matter once it had been raised by the BBC’s Panorama documentary.
McArthur responded by saying, “The Strategy has been a much tougher approach to compliance and enforcement,” before adding, “This was deliberate at changing the behaviour of operators since we had seen too many instances of failures being repeated.”
McArthur went on to say that the UKGC have applied a tougher stance and “behavioural changes” in operators have been forthcoming as a result and that National Strategies have established supports in which the UKGC, “has in place today more than 100 operators, technology providers and experts, looking at how we can use technology to better monitor consumer behaviour to keep them safe, and we should continue to accelerate this work”.
McArthur closed the meeting by stating that he believed that the national measures being established through the UKGC’s strategies were having the desired effect on altering the mindset of operators.