Safer Gambling Week is an industry-led campaign to encourage more conversations about the importance of safe betting; Betting and Gaming Council chair Brigid Simmonds: “All our members are absolutely committed to this. They have safer gambling at the heart of everything they do”
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 20/11/20 3:11pm
Brigid Simmonds, chair of the Betting and Gaming Council, says the gambling industry has “safer gambling at the heart of everything they do” as sport prepares to raise awareness of Safer Gambling Week this weekend.
Safer Gambling Week, an industry-led campaign taking place from November 19-25 to promote safer gambling, is led by the Betting and Gaming Council, Bingo Association and the British Amusement Catering Trade Association and supported by more than 200 organisations.
In sport – which the gambling industry invests heavily in – Ascot Racecourse is supporting Safer Gambling Week by renaming its opening race on Friday after the initiative, while many football clubs will showcase the campaign’s logo within their stadiums.
Simmonds, chair of the Betting and Gaming Council, told Sky Sports Racing on Friday: “We’ve got some great awareness which is going on over the weekend.
“Every football club that’s part of the EFL – sponsored by Sky Bet – are going to have Safer Gambling Week branding at all their matches.
“It’s going to be on their boards around the grounds, it’s going to be in programmes and in fact, if you’re watching Everton against Fulham on Sunday, BetVictor are replacing their names on the shirts with Safer Gambling Week.”
Simmonds: Gambling industry ‘absolutely committed’
The Betting and Gaming Council works closely with the Gambling Commission – the country’s regulatory body for gambling.
The Betting and Gaming Council’s aim is to ensure an “enjoyable, fair and safe betting and gaming experience” for all their customers, and Simmonds says the industry is completely devoted to supporting Safer Gambling Week.
“We bring together remote gambling, the betting shops, casinos, and the bingo industry,” Simmonds said.
“All our members are absolutely committed to this. They have safer gambling at the heart of everything they do.
“In the past year we’ve introduced everything from advertising restrictions to whistle-to-whistle bans, so you now don’t see advertising on television five minutes before or five minutes after and that’s seen a 97 per cent reduction in advertisements seen by young people.
“We’ve made changes to our customer codes to make sure you can’t gamble under 25 without really specific information. We’re also making changes to game design.
“We’re about to go into a gambling review by the government which we welcome and we will be building on these changes.”
‘Government action must be evidence-based’
A government review is ongoing about gambling advertising in sport. In July, the House of Lords published a report that made more than 50 recommendations “to address the misery that a gambling addiction can visit on individuals and their families and friends.”
There has been a considerable level of investment in sport from the gambling industry and while Simmonds welcomes the review, she says any action taken must be “evidence-based”.
“We’re having regular discussions with government and have been absolutely clear that any review of the Gambling Act has to be proportionate,” Simmonds said.
“We need to make sure that it is evidence-based, and we make sure that the voice of the consumer is heard as part of this review.
“We need to be really careful that we don’t do what other countries in Europe have done where they’re over-regulated and therefore, the number of people who are gambling on regulated sites drops.
“We’re an important industry. We put £350m into racing every year and we put £30m into sport.”
QPR & Notts Forest shirts to feature YGAM logo
The Betting and Gaming Council supports the work of the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), which provides free educational training and resources to teachers and youth workers to help prevent gambling-related harm among young and vulnerable people.
In the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday, QPR will carry the logo of the YGAM on the front of their shirts when they host Watford to promote the charity.
The move comes after QPR’s principal shirt sponsors Football Index donated their sponsorship. Football Index will also be contributing £5,000 to the YGAM to support their work further.
Nottingham Forest, who are also sponsored by Football Index, will carry the logo of the YGAM on their shirts when they play Bournemouth on November 24 – live on Sky Sports Football.
Daniel Bliss, Director of External Affairs at YGAM, told Sky Sports News: “We’re enormously grateful to both clubs and Football Index for their fantastic support.
“Education is essential if we are to safeguard future generations from the potential risks associated with gambling.
“The profile of these two great clubs, alongside Football Index’s support, will help us reach more communities, families and young people. I’m a QPR and Forest fan for this week!”
YGAM are working in partnership with GamCare to deliver the ‘Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme’, which is supported by members of the Betting and Gaming Council.
Q&A: What is Safer Gambling Week?
As Safer Gambling Week gets underway, Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson answers some key questions as the gambling industry promotes more conversations in sport…