The Code for Responsible Gambling was produced by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), which represents operators of around 80% of LBOs in Britain, including William Hill, the other major three operators and around 100 independent bookmakers.

The ABB Code for Responsible Gambling focuses on improving four key areas:

  • Issuing clearer and more accessible information on how to gamble responsibly and highlighting the sources of help available.
  • Providing customers with new tools such as time- and money-based reminders, the ability to set spend and time limits on gaming machines and to request machine session data.
  • Training staff to detect the signs of potential problem gambling more quickly and how to interact more effectively with those identified.
  • Undertaking more consistent central analysis of data to identify abnormal activity both in specific shops and, where possible, relating to individual customers.

The Code was developed as a shared, voluntary code of practice within the ABB’s harm minimisation strategy. It was originally implemented in March 2014, which is when the technical changes to gaming machines were made. By then, we had already trained all shop staff on responsible gambling interactions and strengthened our procedures to require more detailed reporting in this area.

In January 2015, we extended our ‘Set Your Limits’ tool to require all gaming machine customers to decide whether or not to set their own limits before the start of a session. Those who do not impose a limit are restricted by hard limits at the end of 30 minutes’ play or spend of £250. When the voluntary or mandatory limits are reached, a pop-up window appears on the screen for 30 seconds containing responsible gambling messages. This is intended to break concentration and force an active decision from the customer on whether or not to continue playing.

During 2014, we undertook 4,100 responsible gambling interactions a month in the LBOs, an increase of 17% over 2013. However, the number of self-exclusions increased at a slower rate, by only 14% to 7,736, which we believe indicates that the extensive efforts we had previously made to improve our self-exclusion systems were  already working well.  The Government has encouraged the industry to find ways to extend self-exclusion. Currently, William Hill customers self-exclude for 12 months at a time and are required to provide an up-to-date photograph for each 12-month period to make the system effective. A self-excluded customer has a 24-hour cooling off period whenever they ask to return to the shop.