Dan Whitlam, GamCare: How operators can go ‘above and beyond’ on safer gambling

GamCare is a prominent safer gambling organisation in the UK, most widely known for its treatment operations, but less so for its industry standards work.

Breaking down the company’s role in pushing operators to go ‘above and beyond’ on responsibility, Dan Whitlam, GamCare’s Head of Industry Standards, sat down for an interview with SBC at Twickenham Stadium

While acknowledging that ‘about 90%’ of GamCare’s work is focused on problem gambling treatment and education, Whitlam explained that his department’s flagship offering in the area of industry responsibility is its Safer Gambling Standard.

“We’re all about raising standards around safer gambling and player protection. Our headline product is the SGS, which is an insurance product where we go and review safer gambling practices, policies and procedures.

“We look at a business’s culture, how they manage their customers, who they look after their colleagues and collaborate with other businesses. We then assess that against a set of criteria and give up to a three-star rating to show how well that company is doing in terms of safer gambling.

“Through that, we’re providing recommendations on how they can go further and go above and beyond the regulatory requirements and further improve the customer experience on player safety.”

As well as offering the Safer Gambling Standard as a kitemark for operators to achieve, Whitlam also detailed the efforts of the firm’s training team, which focuses heavily on customer interaction.

Additionally, GamCare also provides operator customer service teams with the ability to transfer directly into the national gambling helpline to enhance their support to high-risk customers, whilst the new addition to its arsenal is the SG Labs product. 

“We can take a problem from a gambling operator and make a lived experience workshop, bringing together our service users who have lived experience of problem gambling and help the operator to gain those different perspectives and really help them improve their practices,” he added, discussing the SG Labs concept.

As with all matters relating to betting and gaming over the past two years, however, the topic of responsibility has of course been overshadowed by the black cloud of the Gambling Act review.

At the time SBC News spoke to Whitlam, the review had been delayed once again, with the publication of the White Paper expected in July – two months later, the judgement has again been postponed due to political turmoil in Westminster. 

Reflecting on the debate surrounding player protection throughout the 19-month-long legislative overhaul, Whitlam said: “In terms of themes on player protection, affordability has been the big one that’s going to impact safer gambling practice.

“The whole talk has been around ‘is there going to be a threshold implemented where affordability checks will be mandated’, and that’s a significant change for the industry.

“At the moment, customer due diligence is mainly focussed on anti-money laundering, the limits are quite high relative to what’s being talked about on affordability, and it’s going to be a big change for the industry to shift towards an affordability and vulnerability focus.”

Sports sponsorship and the introduction of a betting levy have also been high on the agenda throughout the review, as Whitlam observed. 

Since this interview, the debate around both topics has only escalated further, and the Premier League is set to vote on its own relationship with betting ahead of the government’s White Paper. 

For GamCare, however, the focus remains solidly on affordability, the Industry Standards chief concluded: “From our perspective and from my team’s perspective, we’re really interested in what plays out on affordability and customer vulnerability.”

Dan Whitlam spoke to SBC whilst attending the Betting on Sports Europe conference and networking event at London’s Twickenham Stadium. To check out the speaker lineups and agenda and book tickets for the SBC Summit Barcelona, click HERE.

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