by Renee Israel
It seems that UK bookmakers have been pushed into a corner as lawmakers
continue to put pressure on the industry. These days, as the government mulls
the restriction of fixed odds betting terminals, bookmakers are taking radical
steps to highlight their commitment to the fight against problem gambling, and
swing public support in their favour.
Early this week, two events showed just how far bookmakers are prepared to go
to protect their shares and promote a positive image.
The first came in the form of a letter to the editor of the Telegraph
written by the heads of Gala Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, William Hill and
Betfred, declaring the launch of a new Code for Responsible Gambling.
The second is the news that Ladbrokes chief, Richard Glynn will see his - and
other executives' - pays tied to the company's success in preventing problem
Gambling Bosses Pledge New Code
In their joint letter to The Telegraph, Carl Leaver (Gala Coral),
Richard Glynn (Ladbrokes), Patrick Kennedy (Paddy Power), Ralph Topping (William
Hill) and Fred Done (Betfred), declared the promotion of a new Code for
Responsible Gambling and extra safeguards that will be used on fixed odds gaming
machines, that will be implemented this week.
The executives said that the machines will include forced breaks, with
automatic alerts on money and time spent by players at the machines. In
addition, 40,000 staff members have been trained to look out for signs of
problem gambling behaviour and how to approach players who are displaying that
type of behaviour.
"People who bet responsibly and return are the bedrock of our businesses,"
says the letter. "We do not want our customers to develop problems. The launch
of the Code this week demonstrates our determination to address concerns about
Ladbrokes Links Executives' Pay to Problem Gambling
Another step taken by the gambling industry came in the form of a decision
made by Ladbrokes to link the pay of its top executives, including Richard
Glynn, to the success of the group's problem gambling efforts.
According Sky News, Glynn will "pledge the insertion of responsible
gambling criteria into the contracts of the company's most senior managers"
including his own.
In a letter obtained by Sky News, Glynn writes:
"Ladbrokes has always placed a high degree of focus on responsible gambling.
It is a core part of our values and a central component of our license to
operate. To this end, we have always trained our staff, promoted responsible
gambling and funded research, education and treatment services. However, we have
decided to go a step further."
"In short," he continues, "we believe that responsible gambling not only
needs to be at the heart of our business, it needs to be seen to be at the heart
of our business."