4 min read
The scale and nature of the entertainment we provide brings with it a responsibility to look after our customers. We are constantly improving our player protection policies.
A disorientating feature of the lockdown period has been the absence of the familiar rhythms of the sporting calendar.
Whether it is singing with fellow fans at the local football ground or enjoying a day out at the races, millions of customers have missed their sport.
Of course, lots of people enjoy adding to the excitement by placing a wager.
Just look at the Virtual Grand National which saw around 5 million people tune in to watch on ITV and placed bets which raised £2.6m for charity in April.
The popularity of these combined leisure activities is one of the factors that have made the gambling industry a hugely valuable one to the UK economy, contributing around £9 billion Gross Value Added. GVC alone is one of the 20 biggest taxpayers in the UK.
However, there is also no denying that, for a small minority of people, gambling can become a problem.
It was understandable, therefore, that the lockdown could exacerbate the issue for some.
Thankfully, the UK Gambling Commission has thus far found no evidence of such an increase. But we must never be complacent.
There is a significant anti-gambling lobby that believes punitive and mandatory restrictions – notably clamping down on online stake thresholds – will help problem gamblers.
I don’t doubt for one minute their genuine desire to help solve the problem, but such measures would actually only serve to exacerbate the issue: punters would switch instead to unlicensed black market operators, where there is zero customer protection, interaction or intervention for those who may be at risk.
In other words, it is an approach that could damage the very people that it seeks to protect.
The proportion of UK customers betting with illegal gambling operations is currently amongst the lowest in the world, but the black market in this country still generates £1.4 billion of turnover a year.
We only need to look at other countries that have imposed onerous regulations, such as France and…