Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, made an impassioned plea to the finance industry to join forces with them in directly combating problem gambling and gambling harms saying:
“… gambling related harm is a complex issue – require a wide range of perspectives and participants to solve them. If we are to achieve a lasting reduction in gambling related harm, there must be a multi-sector partnership approach. The financial sector has a vitally important role to play,”
McArthur was speaking at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s (MMHPI) online conference which catered to professionals from the financial services industry.
Not Looking for a Handout
Given the audience of the MMHPI’s virtual conference, you would expect the issue of financial support being raised, however, McArthur was interested in the sectors capital support rather he wanted to tap into their intellectual resources.
“There are no silver bullets here. It’s easy to come up with great soundbites – but real change takes hard work, collaboration and innovation in lots of different areas.”
The MMHPI project entitled “Engaging financial services firms in work to reduce gambling harms” is funded from the penalty packages the Gambling Commission has imposed on licensees who have no get to the terms of their license agreement.
This circular approach to funding industry improvements and projects is one of the ways in which the Commission is looking to disrupt old ways of thinking.
Innovative and Decisive Action Is Needed
The reality of problem gambling in Great Britain is that it has stalled. The current programs and activities have helped to stem its growth but that still leaves an estimated 340,000 people in limbo.
“That is far too high and whilst problem gambling rates are not increasing, they aren’t yet decreasing and that is what we want to see: a drastic reduction in the number of people being harmed by gambling.”
One of the most effective partners the Gambling Commission could have in directly impacting these numbers is the financial sector he added.
In particular, McArthur pointed to previous successful initiatives which would not have been possible without the financial sector. These include blocking credit cards from making deposits at gambling venues, the advancements in identifying players who are playing beyond their means and banks offering voluntary gambling blocks to at-risk customers.
MMHPI chief executive, Katie Alpin, supported this saying:
“We hope that today’s conference will help galvanise firms from across the sector to build on this progress, and to go even further in improving support for customers experiencing gambling problems.”
She also called on the firms present at the virtual conference to not let this pass them by but to take action to help the industry and the more than two million adults in the UK who deal with compulsive and problem gambling on a daily basis.