The week started with the BGC tweeting every five minutes (OK, maybe every couple of hours), promoting the Virtual Grand National under the guise of how altruistic they were with their ‘donation’ of losing bets to the NHS. This was then followed by them releasing guidance to their members that the event should not be marketed. Yet within minutes of the announcement, examples were found that some to its well established members were still doing exactly the opposite and pushing the computer game event right under their noses. Whilst it’s very easy for us all to see the real reasons behind the donation ploy, I wonder what the general public who are perhaps not exposed to the politics behind the move thought? Perhaps the fact that the people largely shunned the event tells a story. I read a very well put together document from a fellow twitter user: @GamblingCrisis, that said just a third of the public have trust in the gambling industry. That is quite a stark figure and perhaps suggests that actually the public at large are beginning to see the bigger picture.
Mid week we then had the release of the GC’s EbE proposed platform. The first document was somewhat refreshing. It was basically the summary of the views from the brave EbE’s that attended their event, giving up their time to travel from across the country, in some hope that finally the GC were listening to them. However, the next document from them was a bizarre slap in the face to those very EbEs. Not once within the EbE’s summary was it mentioned that they thought VIP schemes should be exclusively for the Over-25s, quite the contrary, they were clear in saying the schemes should be banned. So why on earth come out and suggest this preposterous idea? As a fellow EbE quite rightly said to me, how many disordered gamblers do we know that were VIPs in their younger years? He is quite right, I too do not know many, if any and I myself became a VIP at the end of my disordered life, aged 35. I must remind the GC that this was the lowest point in my life and if it wasn’t for the thought of the pain I would cause my daughter, I would have ended my life. However, I would rather have lived a painful existence forever and pretended to her that everything was OK, to make sure she at least grew up with a Dad that loved her dearly. I can only imagine how betrayed the brave EbEs must be feeling with this announcement. We will of course be calling upon the GC officially, to explain to us how they came to this decision and show us the evidence and minutes from their behind-closed-door working group with GVC on this subject.
The following day, as if almost an attempt to bury this subject, the GC announced a record fine for the usual failings. I don’t even bother reading these regulatory rulings anymore because they’re all but a cut-and-paste exercise from the rulings they’ve rolled out since 2014. The real question is why don’t they do more instead of saying the same old thing? Perhaps having the ‘Big Guns’ in their working group answers this. Are we really likely to ever see them have their licences suspended or revoked? Not likely within the current hierarchy of the GC.
We then saw an announcement from the GC that they had suspended two licences, one of which was immediately given back, due to Gamstop non-compliance. As always, these companies were on the smaller end of the spectrum, being made examples of perhaps? When looking at the Big Guns’ share prices on the back of such announcements, we see no impact whatsoever, that perhaps tell you all need to know about how the markets digest the impact the GC’s actions have on them.
Then over the weekend things became even more bizarre. Having made it known that I was personally on the receiving end of illicit and illegal marketing from a UKGC registered company, I simply asked the BGC whether the company (A.G. Communications Ltd) was a member of theirs. Their response was a slap in the face to EbEs, perhaps on a similar scale to that of the GC, following their VIP announcement. They quickly got back to me (via twitter) to almost proudly say that the company was not one of their members (basically saying they have no interest in the breach in question). But it was their comments to state that they don’t engage with ‘nameless trolls’ that was most crass. I asked them whether I was one such troll but got no response. They went on to say that their email address was open. Yet we as a collective Group at Gamvisory, as per our ethos from the start that we’ll engage with all, emailed the BGC several times over the past two weeks, yet we have been blanked, as indeed the same goes for the GC. Rest assured the content of the emails were all fair and polite.
So what do I take from this week? That the GC have attempted to at least say the right things, but then do the opposite and the BGC don’t even say the right things, let alone show their willingness to engage with those of us that have been so affected by malpractices, both from their non-members and members. As I have always said to everyone, whatever changes the industry make, whatever statements they choose to put out, if you don’t acknowledge the legacy of harm you’ve created, you’ll never succeed. For those within the industry that attempt to label us as ‘anti-gambling’, beware, we will pounce on the use of this phrase because it’s simply not true. We don’t shout loudly because we’re looking for prohibition. We shout loudly because you just don’t listen. You don’t engage meaningfully. You don’t show us respect. We will be listened to, we will be heard. If you don’t want to engage with us then we will simply go directly to those that make the meaningful decisions going forward and have the influence to change what’s wrong and accept dealing with the legacy you’ve left.