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Sat, 2 March 2024

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By Stephen Powis
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Safer gambling week works, attacking it defies logic

Brigid Simmonds, Chairman

Brigid Simmonds, Chairman | Betting And Gaming Council

4 min read Partner content

Safer Gambling Week 2023 was clearly another fantastic success. While it takes time to fully understand the impact of each campaign, the early results make clear our industry went further than ever to promote the tools which help people control their play, while ensuring more people than ever saw signposting to the advice and support available to those who may be struggling. In short, Safer Gambling Week works.

The data, collated independently of the BGC, is eye watering. Across the campaign Safer Gambling Week generated in excess of 50 million impressions across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, appearing a staggering amount of times on people’s social media feeds. That represents a 70 per cent increase on last year’s results, which had already set new records for outreach. Meanwhile, the Safer Gambling Week website, a fantastic resource for help and advice, received half a million visits.

This successful drive online, was complemented across our sector in physical venues too. Anyone passing a betting shop on hard-pressed high streets, or visiting a casino, a vital pillar of the leisure and tourism sector, or in a bingo club, will have seen posters and displays promoting the groundbreaking campaign. This truly was a whole industry endeavor; online, in betting shops, in bingo halls and casinos.

Each and every post and poster during the campaign sought to make a genuine impact. Each and every one encouraged a conversation about safer gambling or promoted the tools only available in the regulated sector, including time-outs and deposit limits, or signposted to the support available for those concerned about their betting.

The entire campaign was constructed to spark a conversation, to breakdown the stigma and cut through the misunderstandings that often exist around betting. And we know this focussed promotion works. Last year, during the Safer Gambling Week campaign, around 200,000 accounts set deposit limits, with 61 per cent of players setting such limits for the first time. Meanwhile the number of players actively using reality checks rose by an astonishing 300 per cent.

It's no surprise the reach of the event is growing, considering it is fully backed by the Government and independent regulator the Gambling Commission. It also enjoys significant cross-party support with over 30 parliamentarians, including Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew MP and several shadow ministers including the Shadow Gambling Minister Stephanie Peacock MP, showing their support.

It also has the backing of sport, which so heavily relies on betting for vital revenues. The Rugby Football League and horse racing threw their support behind the campaign, while football clubs also took part, all to reach out to their fans to talk about safer gambling.

So, it defies logic that still now, in this seventh year of Safer Gambling Week, we have so-called campaigners tripping over themselves to attack and undermine it. It is also defies common sense that they should do so, while demanding the industry does more to drive up standards. When they criticise in this way, they show their true colours. They are not interested in genuine attempts to drive up standards – they simply dislike betting and gaming – and by extension, dislike those who enjoy it.

While they tie themselves in knots attacking something obviously sensible and positive, we’ll get on with the job. Safer Gambling Week is essential because betting and gaming is an incredibly popular pastime for people from all walks of life and we want to keep customers safe. Each month around 22.5 million people enjoy a bet in the UK and the overwhelming majority do so safely and responsibly. According to the most recent NHS Health Survey – considered the gold standard for such research – problem gambling rates were 0.4 per cent of adults in England.

However, one problem gambler is one too many. So, while we are determined to raise standards and promote responsible betting and gaming all year round, Safer Gambling Week gives us, and the 110,000 people who work in this industry, the opportunity to focus minds and deliver this with a really big impact. We will carry on this work, not just for one week, but every week of the years ahead.

Meanwhile, Safer Gambling Week will be back next year, we will raise our sights to promote safer gambling tools to even more people, to reach an even greater audience with messaging which signposts to the help and support available to those struggling. We will do so because, whatever the detractors say, Safer Gambling Week works.

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