Bookmakers' Forum - 18/10/19  

Yesterday, we welcomed bookmakers from across the UK to the Serve Legal Bookmakers’ Forum at the Association of British Bookmakers’ London headquarters. We’ve been working with the gambling industry for ten years, supporting bookmaker compliance with legal and license obligations and helping them enforce responsible gambling policies. Our Forum provides a great opportunity to share market insight, discuss industry challenges and opportunities and find new ways to help and support our bookmaker clients. 
 
The Gambling Commission licenses and regulates the people and businesses that provide gambling in Great Britain. It mandates that operators put policies in place to prevent underage gambling. Checking the age of customers at the point of entry and at the counter is a key responsibility and there are harsh consequences for those that facilitate underage gambling. The vast majority of bookmakers have adopted Think 21 or Think 25 policies under which staff must ask customers that look to be under 21 or 25 for proof that they are over 18. 
 
To test the industry’s performance on age verification, Serve Legal runs independent audit programmes for the Gambling Commission, the ABB and individual bookmakers. With a community of 2,500 18-19 year-old auditors working in every part of the UK and Ireland, Serve Legal operates at scale, conducting over 150,000 audits a year. Auditors are deployed to bookmakers’ sites where they enter stores, place bets at the counter and/or use gaming machines. They record key information about the transaction, including whether photo ID was requested and if so when during the transaction; a description of the server; a betting receipt and other key facts, at times expanding to assess the quality of customer service and physical and emotional signs that a customer may be displaying distress related to gambling issues, the latter being an area that all bookmakers at the forum confirmed was high on their agenda. Sites where ID is requested in accordance with the organisation’s policies, pass the audit. Those that don’t, fail. 
 
Within 24 hours of audits being completed, clients receive an accurate, reliable report. Our Account managers provide supportive, strategic recommendations based on audit results and Serve Legal delivers bespoke staff, management and operational training packages where requested. Many Serve Legal clients build its data into their shop floor training and in-store operational systems to improve performance and ensure they’re not breaking the law. Training may take the form of onsite, interactive presentations for varying numbers of staff from multiple sites who wish to improve their knowledge, awareness and compliance. 
 
Meeting the Serve Legal team helps operators appreciate that its purpose is not to ‘catch anyone out’, but rather to support them in delivering against the promises they make to customers, the communities in which they operate, and the Gambling Commission, to prevent underage gambling. 
 
Fortunately for bookmakers and shop staff that fail independent audits, Serve Legal’s mystery shoppers aren’t underage and no laws are broken. However, the implications of taking a lax approach to age verification represent a significant threat to the gambling industry’s stance on responsible retailing. Operators found by Trading Standards or the police to be sanctioning underage gambling face the risk of prosecution, fines for both operators and individual staff members, and possible business closure for a repeat offence. 
 
Working with Serve Legal, bookmakers have improved their age verification audit pass rate every year for the last ten years, passing 89% of age check audits in 2019 - the highest average pass rate of any gambling retailer. Bookmakers are working extremely hard to prevent underage gambling and we’re here to support that effort across the entire gambling industry. 
 
Serve Legal carries out independent auditing of betting shops, racetracks, adult gaming centres, bingo halls and AWPs on licensed premises.  
 
To find out more about the how Serve Legal can help and support your business, contact: Jenni Garratt, Sales & Client Manager for Serve Legal on 07483002146 or by email to jennigarratt@servelegal.co.uk 
 
 
 
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