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Rhodes Discussed Affordability and the Black Market


Andrew Rhodes, the new chief executive officer of Britain’s Gambling Commission, says that affordability should be the priority. According to him, there is a balance to be found between engaging play and safe gambling.

Affordability Is the Priority

In light of the current Gambling Act review, Rhodes believes that the UKGC and its licensees must prioritize affordability. He is sure that it is possible to make gambling affordable without prompting people to turn to the black market.

The key to affordability is “sensible intervention,” Rhodes said. He insists that gambling companies should be able to prevent addictive behaviors and protect their customers from harm. Some people think that the best way to handle problem gambling is the implementation of a “single customer view.” It will allow operators to properly check their customers’ spending behaviors and see if they have played with other companies as well.

 It’s got enormous potential to reduce harm. If you think about a consumer moving from operator to operator and having a really negative experience in terms of their gambling, then it has the ability to identify them.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO, UKGC

However, Rhodes added that the single customer view by itself is not enough to improve affordability. While it is a big innovation, it will be up to the companies to make the most out of it.

There Are Many Dangers

Rhodes realizes that there are always people who are going to be unhappy with the regulations. However, unregulated gambling is just as dangerous, therefore the UKGC needs to find a balance between affordability and customer satisfaction.

What we can’t end up in is a position where we have so many barriers in the legitimate industry that it makes it impractical for people to engage with it, but we can’t have standards so low, citing the risk of the black market as an excuse.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO, UKGC

Rhodes argues that the right approach to affordability is to make things safe enough for players but not limit them so much that they turn to offshore operators. If this doesn’t work the UKGC might need to tackle the black market directly.

The UK is one of the few European countries that are yet to crack down on offshore operators. Its regulator instead hopes to invest in the licensed alternative and make it more appealing. Additionally, it is increasingly hard to distinguish illegal betting from novel products. To make matters worse, the legality of some of the newest offerings in the market is unclear.

Rhodes warned that there the biggest dangers to the regulated gambling industry are products that don’t constitute gambling but have the same effect on their customers. This includes blockchain-based offerings, among others.

What we typically see with novel products is part of what they offer crosses the boundary, not necessarily the entire product. And we’ve seen that with a number of different products in the last sort of five years or so. 

Andrew Rhodes, CEO, UKGC

Rhodes concluded that the Commission needs to be more agile in the future.

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