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Five simple ways gambling websites can significantly reduce harm

Five recommendations backed by BIT’s evidence that can and should be implemented immediately

  • Press release
  • 28th Nov 2022

LONDON, 28 NOVEMBER 2022 – The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) is today releasing an action plan of five simple yet highly effective changes gambling operators can make to improve the safety and wellbeing of their customers.

The plan was developed by BIT’s Gambling Policy & Research Unit (GPRU) based on their extensive research and evidence-building in consultation with industry, operators, support and treatment providers and policy makers. The action plan has now been formally submitted to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) who are responsible for gambling regulation in the UK for their review.

GPRU’s online gambling action plan

1. One-click unsubscribe from marketing and no auto-enrollment to additional products or sister companies.

The Gambling Commission has the power to require operators to ask customers to actively choose what brands they are signed up to, what types of marketing information they would like to receive, and to ensure they can unsubscribe in one click. This is in line with practices in other consumer markets.

2. Customers kept informed of their account activity to reduce the risk of fraud.

It is now normal practice for digital services to keep customers informed of account activity – for example sending receipts – and also increasingly commonplace to alert users to unusual activity. This is not the case with online gambling but there is no regulatory or legal impediment for the Gambling Commission with the support of the DMCS to mandate this well used and understood approach to online safety and security.

3. All gambling management tools should be easy to locate, evidence based, and without adverts.

There are currently countless unnecessary barriers to setting up gambling management tools, for example difficulties in finding the relevant pages on operators’ websites. The Gambling Commission has the authority to require all operators to implement tools on site in a frictionless, evidence-based way, with minimal steps required to set them up.

4. As easy to close an account as it is to open one.

Remarkably this is not the case, with multiple cases account closure not just being extremely difficult (‘sludge’) but near impossible (‘immortal accounts’). There can be no justification for this and information on how to close accounts should be easy to access and easy to understand and implement.

5. Operators contribute to testing what works and sharing their results publicly.

Experimentation and evidence building ensures policymaking is driven by valid and robust evidence that promotes best practice across the market. Both operators and the regulator should routinely run experiments and monitor data to identify where changes need to happen, and evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of potential remedies. 

The gambling space, and the way people gamble, has changed dramatically over the past, in particular with the enormous growth in online gambling. Consumers have access to an open-all-hours casino in their pocket however the necessary safeguards have not kept pace with this rapid change.

GPRU’s action plan follows the team’s comprehensive Behavioural Risk Audit of 10 of the top UK gambling operators published in July of this year. Each recommendation has been developed through deliberation with industry, gambling support services and policy makers, who support change in these areas and has been chosen based on its clear potential benefits to consumers, the existing evidence for what works to reduce gambling harm, and its ability to be implemented quickly.