Sarah Gardner: No client perspective affects UKGC's understanding of society's vulnerabilities

Sara Gardner , acting CEO UK Gambling Commission ( UKGC ) believes there is a need for closer collaboration between government and business to address the hidden vulnerability risks faced by the general public.

Gardner spoke at the summit “ The Shard Financial Vulnerability Summit 2021 'speaking to her virtual audience on the topic of "Risk Reduction and Harm Reduction", in which she spoke first-hand about the problems of UKGC in the management of the gambling sector.

“Vulnerability is a topic that is often perceived rather narrowly, but it is increasingly recognized in many sectors that the circumstances of vulnerability are complex and unique,” Gardner said in her opening statement.

“Of course, there are many reasons why a person can be vulnerable to harm. Likewise, those that may appear vulnerable may not be. "

Although the Commission is currently monitoring the overall level of problem gambling in the UK. by 0.4% population, with moderate risk " 0.6% harm - Gardner stressed that statistics "can never account for many other lives, families and communities that are harmed by gambling."

As British business and society emerged, Gardner said that, due to the stresses of isolation, the topic of the summit was timely to be recognized by all national stakeholders.

She continued: “As many of you know, the Financial Life 2020 study by the FCA found that 46% of the UK adult population aged 18 and over one year or other characteristics of vulnerability.

“That's 24.1 million people. At the Gambling Commission, protecting vulnerable people from harm is one of our key licensing goals, so understanding what makes people vulnerable to harm associated with gambling is a key issue for us and our work to reduce the risk and improve the safety of gambling. ".

As a regulator in a high-risk industry, Gardner said the UKGC has taken an uncompromising stance in raising standards through compliance and enforcement. to protect the country's children and vulnerable consumers.

UKGC initiatives over the past three years have focused on strengthening the ID of the gambling industry. and procedures for maintaining affordability for customers, and ending opaque conditions to improve consumer standards.

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Sarah Gardner - UKGC

The policy change saw the Commission enact a ban on the use of credit cards in the industry try, while the regulator has strengthened the enforcement procedure, which since 2017 has issued over £ 100 million in penalty packages and 10 operator licenses revoked.

"This action record must leave. There is no doubt that the Gambling Commission is fully focused on making gambling safer, more fair and free of crime," Gardner said. “But, as I said, through collaboration with others, through collective identification of problems and finding solutions, we can make further progress.”

Despite progress in mitigating risks, Gardner acknowledged that gambling continues to require the help of broader stakeholders to develop a “common customer perspective” to ensure public engagement with the sector.

Developing such a unified perspective has been identified as the main goal of the new UKGC triennium. " Corporate strategy‘,in which the regulator will make consumer affordability and consumer compensation central to its policy.

Gardner noted that UK businesses have shown a willingness to collaborate on vulnerability issues, praising the banking and finance industries for “sharing best practices” on developing gambling blocking tools that have been introduced to 90% debit card accounts.

“We at the Gambling Commission remain committed to cooperating and supporting others in this endeavor. This includes gambling operators, ”she concluded. “We know that many gambling companies have had a tough year and tougher decisions to keep jobs and livelihoods alive. We will work with those operators who come to us.

“But we will not move at the slowest pace. Considering the future will not force us to compromise here and now. Even with the turbulence of the pandemic, we have made progress. We are on the right track. So let's continue together. "

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