The Westminster Media Forum (WMF) is a platform for policymakers, stakeholders and experts to discuss key issues and developments in the media sector. On 24th April 2023, the WMF will host a policy conference on the future of gambling reform and regulation in the UK. The conference will focus on the upcoming Gambling Act Review and Gambling White Paper, as well as the DCMS Select Committee’s ongoing inquiry into gambling regulation. It will also examine the impact of gambling-related harms, consumer behaviour, online regulation, and modernisation of the industry.
Policy: priorities for the future of gambling regulation
The conference will feature keynote sessions with Ian Angus, Director of Policy, Gambling Commission; and Dan Waugh, Partner, Regulus Partners. They will provide an overview of the current state of gambling regulation in the UK, and the main challenges and opportunities for reform. They will also address the expectations and implications of the Gambling White Paper, which is expected to be published later this year, and the Gambling Act Review, which will follow in 2024.
The White Paper will set out the Government’s vision and proposals for updating the regulatory framework for gambling, which has been largely unchanged since 2005. The Review will examine whether the existing legislation is fit for purpose in light of technological and social changes and whether it adequately protects consumers and prevents harm. The conference will also discuss the findings and recommendations of the DCMS Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the effectiveness and impact of gambling regulation.
Some of the key issues that will be explored include:
- Defining ‘gambling’ and ‘problematic gambling’ in legislation and ensuring consistency and clarity across different forms and platforms of gambling
- Assessing the scope and range of harms associated with gambling, such as financial, health, social and criminal harms, and how they can be measured and prevented
- Implementing further control mechanisms for consumers, such as affordability checks, financial risk checks, self-exclusion schemes, and limits on stakes, prizes and speed of play
- Enhancing transparency and accountability in the use of consumer data by gambling operators, regulators and researchers
- Creating a safer advertising ecosystem for gambling products and services, including online platforms, social media influencers, sports sponsorship, and loot boxes
- Balancing consumer protection with economic benefits from the gambling sector, such as tax revenue, employment, innovation and entertainment
Gambling-related harm: tackling and treating addiction
The conference will also look at the latest developments and best practices in tackling and treating gambling addiction. It will feature speakers from various sectors involved in providing support and care for people affected by gambling-related harms, such as health services, charities, academics and technology providers.
Some of the topics that will be covered include:
- Early identification and intervention for problematic gambling behaviour
- Treating addiction through new NHS facilities, such as specialist clinics and helplines
- Supporting the third sector in delivering prevention and recovery programmes
- Utilising technology and data to implement effective responses to gambling-related harms, such as online tools, apps, algorithms and artificial intelligence
- Evaluating the impact and outcomes of different interventions and treatments
Consumer behaviour: trends and challenges
The conference will also examine the latest trends and challenges in consumer behaviour in relation to gambling. It will analyse how consumers are engaging with different forms of gambling, such as online casinos, sports betting, esports betting, virtual reality gambling, social gaming and crypto-gambling. It will also assess how current safety measures are affecting consumer behaviour, such as age verification, identity verification, deposit limits and reality checks.
Some of the questions that will be addressed include:
- How are consumers’ preferences and expectations changing in relation to gambling products and services?
- How are consumers’ attitudes and awareness towards gambling risks and harms evolving?
- How are consumers’ trust and confidence in gambling operators and regulators influenced by factors such as transparency, fairness, security and responsible gaming?
- How can consumers be empowered to make informed choices about their gambling behaviour?
Online regulation: keeping up with innovation
The conference will also explore how regulation can keep up with innovation in the online gambling sector. It will consider how regulators can adapt to new technologies and business models that are emerging in the industry. It will also discuss how businesses can comply with regulatory requirements while maintaining their competitiveness.
Some of the aspects that will be discussed include:
- The impact of online regulation on UK industry
- The options for a designated regulator for online gambling
- The challenges of regulating cross-border online gambling
- The opportunities for collaboration between regulators, operators, developers and researchers
- The role of innovation in enhancing consumer protection
Modernisation: building safety into Design
The conference will also discuss how modernisation can help to create a safer gambling environment. It will highlight how innovation can be used to build safety into the design of gambling products and services. It will also showcase how consumer data can be used for research and security purposes.
Some of the examples that will be presented include:
- Using biometric and behavioural data to identify and verify consumers
- Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect and prevent fraud and money laundering
- Using blockchain and smart contracts to ensure fairness and transparency
- Using gamification and nudges to encourage responsible gambling
- Using user feedback and testing to improve user experience
The WMF policy conference on the next steps for gambling policy and regulation in the UK will be a valuable opportunity for stakeholders to exchange views and insights on the future of the gambling industry. It will also provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration between policymakers, regulators, operators, researchers, health professionals, charities and consumers. The conference will aim to contribute to the development of a robust, effective and sustainable regulatory framework for gambling that balances consumer protection, harm prevention, economic growth and innovation.
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