GVC CEO: Problem gambling up to 150% more prevalent among illegal operators

By Tim Poole

GVC Holdings CEO Kenny Alexander has once again reiterated his stance that punitive regulation will not help problem gamblers.

As betting shops reopen in England and Wales, GVC has produced a blog which also appeared on Politics Home, presenting Alexander’s views on how the UK sector is tackling problem gambling issues.

Despite clear examples of industry failings, such as the recent ruling involving Playtech, Alexander says protecting customers is at the forefront of industry thinking, and "clearly the decent and moral thing to do."

He therefore urges regulators and governments to avoid "headline-grabbing blanket restrictions" which are "superficially attractive" and "hugely counterproductive."

In his blog, Alexander wrote: "There is a significant anti-gambling lobby that believes punitive and mandatory restrictions – notably clamping down on online stake thresholds – will help problem gamblers.

"I don’t doubt for one minute their genuine desire to help solve the problem, but such measures would actually only serve to exacerbate the issue: punters would switch instead to unlicensed black market operators, where there is zero customer protection, interaction or intervention for those who may be at risk."

Five members of the Betting and Gaming Council, including GVC, have agreed to pledge £100m ($125.4m) towards problem gambling treatment.

Alexander continued: "The proportion of UK customers betting with illegal gambling operations is currently amongst the lowest in the world, but the black market in this country still generates £1.4bn of turnover a year.

"We only need to look at other countries that have imposed onerous regulations, such as France and Australia, to see that they lead to the rise of substantial black markets.

"And problem gambling has been found to be up to 150% more prevalent among illegal operators."

Gambling Insider recently conducted an interview with Perrin Carey, former chief risk and compliance officer at Stride Gaming, about how firms can genuinely drive cultural change within the area of responsible gambling.

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