In the latest of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show, CEO and Founder of EPIC Risk Management Paul Buck went through all of the topics that are currently making noise in the gambling industry.
Surrounded by governmental shakedowns and rising political uncertainty, the faint outlines of the UK’s Gambling Act review can be seen idling, as opposed to the gambling sector that is anticipating a White Paper that was promised at a time not so distant when put on a calendar, but perhaps feels like decades ago in the minds of many.
For Buck, the lack of sufficient communication between two very polarised sides is bereaving them from any opportunity to have a fruitful conversation and reach a common assertion, which is what has been pressing the brakes on the review.
He explained: “It’s incredibly complex, and I think the reason it has taken so long is that so many people have had so many different opinions. The industry obviously thinks that the rate of gambling is going down, that more and more is being done than what has ever been done before to stop problem gambling.
“You’ve also got a very educated and vocal set of people on the other side – from medical people to gambling campaigners, people with lived experience – who believe much firmer measures are needed.
“It has become quite polarised. There’s not that much collaborative talks between the two sides. Even when the White Paper comes out, I think it will probably be a position where still nobody’s happy. The industry will probably think it’s gone too far, the people on the other side of the spectrum will think it has not gone far enough.”
Despite the differences, the EPIC CEO believes that a common sentiment can be found across the spectrum of opinions, which he himself shares as well: “The gambling act review is long overdue. Gambling between 2003 and 2005 was a very different beast to what it is now. It was mainly in betting shops, there wasn’t a constant online in-play.
“I think that the first thing to say is that it’s definitely long overdue. We need to bring the gambling act into the digital age.”
Moving forward in the discussion, Lycka asked about how his guest sees the emerging US and Ontario gambling markets from the lenses of EPIC, which looks to increase the prevalence of safer gambling across the industry.
Buck then highlighted that the efforts towards sustainable gambling do not match the growth rate of the industry, which he labelled as worrying, citing the need for operators to take player protection seriously if they want to avoid heavy regulations and stark political involvement down the line.
He said: “They’ve got an opportunity at the moment to be the largest and most successful gambling industry in the world, but also the safest. And what I’m not seeing at the moment is that ‘safest’ bit.
“There are some efforts from some operators and there are some good people in the space, but overall I think the gambling industry is growing far faster than any kind of safer gambling efforts are.
“In all honesty, I think that America is in danger of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. It doesn’t take sustainable gambling seriously, it doesn’t protect its players, it doesn’t moderate its adverts and free bet offers.
“Eventually, public opinion will turn, politicians will get involved, and the regulation will come at a much greater amount than it would be if you try to do the right things properly.”