The ABB and Medway Council have this week launched Britain’s first scheme that will allow anyone developing a problem with their gambling to exclude themselves from every shop in Chatham. This is different to the existing schemes where someone can exclude themselves from one specific operator.
Under this trial scheme, a customer only needs to fill out one form and submit two passport photos at one shop, and the details will be automatically be circulated to all shops participating in the pilot scheme. The customer will then be unable to place a bet in any of those shops. Launched at a Coral shop in Chatham town centre, the event was attended by Medway Councillors, and representatives of betting shop operators, and follows the formation of the Medway Responsible Gambling Partnership which was signed by the Council, the ABB, Kent Police and the Safer Medway Partnership.
Speaking at the launch, Councillor Peter Hicks, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Contact, said this was an important initiative. “This is a real coup for Medway, with the only multi-operator self-exclusion scheme in the country. It puts the Council and our partners at the cutting edge of responsible gambling.”
In the run up to the pilot, shop staff have been specially trained to help customers fill out the form and understand the agreement they are signing with the ten shops taking part in the scheme. Someone taking part will also be advised of all the other help available, including counselling sessions and group therapy which is funded by the industry.
This is in addition to other measures being introduced by ABB member shop, including devoting 20% of all window advertising to responsible gambling messages, increased prominence to gambling helplines within the shop and requiring gaming machine players to choose whether to set a limit on the amount of money they spend or time they play for.
As part of the industry’s Responsible Gambling week planned for the end of January, shop staff will be promoting the benefits of setting a limit which already sees nearly 80% of people who set a limit stop playing when they reach it. Hilary Douglas from the ABB said: “We are pleased to have launched this ground-breaking pilot scheme. It is the result of building a strong relationship with Medway Council and local councilors, which will help customers in Chatham to bet safely and responsibly, which is what we all want.”