Betting and Gaming Council Wants Gambling Ombudsman
As the British government’s Gambling Act review continues, the Betting and Gaming Council has waded in with the suggestion that there should be a gambling ombudsman introduced to deal with all customer complaints.
The BGC has made the call as ministers continue their review, with a white paper on it due by the end of the year.
Industry Standards Need to be Raised
The need for an ombudsman, something seen, for example, in the finance sector, is something that provides proof that the industry is determined to heighten its standards, according to Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC.
To enforce the introduction of a gambling ombudsman, the BGC has made a proposal that it should be made a legal requirement for gaming operators to sign up to the body in order to receive a licence to operate in the UK under the auspices of the Gambling Commission.
Dugher is calling for the government to “look favourably” on the Betting and Gaming Council’s suggestion, believing that the introduction of an ombudsman would be excellent for the industry. Such a move would come after the Gambling Review, hopefully by the end of 2021.
Most people within the sector agree that, despite being the flagbearers of gambling governance, standards should still be raised in the UK. The BGC says that its members do see the need for more change within the industry, an ombudsman perhaps being the positive step forward in terms of customer satisfaction.
Flutter Entertainment Adds Support to Initiative
One of the major betting brands to add support to the idea of a new ombudsman is Flutter, owners of Betfair, Paddy Power, Sky Bet, PokerStars, and others.
Their chief executive Conor Grant spoke out recently to say that a real commitment to putting customers first means more than having an avenue to speak to their chosen brand. They must also have an independent body to contact should something go wrong – the reason Flutter is backing the BGC’s call for the government to include an ombudsman when reforming the Gambling Act.
Review Underway, Ombudsman Idea Nothing New
In December 2020, the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport released the terms attached to the long-awaited official Gambling Act (2005) Review. They included questions related to advertising and bonuses, stake limits, prizes and game speed, and customer protection.
The DCMS stated that the review would be forged around their three main objectives: to examine whether changes to gambling regulations are required, find a balance between harm prevention and customer freedom, and finally make sure consumers are protected in both online and online land-based gambling environments.
While the Gambling Act Review is much needed to bring it up to date with the truly digital gambling age, stakeholders in the industry have, in fact, been calling for the creation of an ombudsman for many years now but not always for the same reasons.
Tom Watson, former Labour Party deputy leader, called for such a body during his tenure; however, he was also well noted within the industry as someone who ultimately wanted such tight controls as to almost end casual gambling altogether, essentially taking away freedoms around the matter.
Another past suggestion was that of the Social Market Foundation who believed in splitting the Gambling Commission into two different bodies, with a ‘Gambling Licensing Authority’ handling licenses and a Gambling Ombudsman taking care of customer affordability and protection matters.