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Tim Miller

Executive Director of Research. UK Gambling Commission

Tim Miller

The Great Britain Gambling Commission controls every aspect of the gaming business in the U.K (Ireland has a separate commission). Tim Miller, it’s executive director of research, spoke about the complex process of overseeing such a diverse industry when he spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at the ICE trade show and conference in London in February. For a full video version of the interview, visit the GGB Podcast article.

GGB: Can you give us a scope of what the UK Gambling Commission regulates and how you oversee it?

Miller: We have a really broad jurisdiction, so we are the single regulator for all gambling in Britain. That’s online, land-based, lottery, and racetracks. We obviously have a really broad, diverse industry.

You just released details on the gross gambling yield, which is also called gross gaming revenue in some other jurisdictions. Explain what happened with this year’s gross gambling yield and how it compares to previous years.

The most recent set of figures was ₤15.1 billion in the second quarter, which, for a country the size of the U.K., is quite significant, and is indeed a record level of GY. So I think it shows that actually the gambling industry here is pretty resilient, despite the challenges that came from the pandemic. We have seen good examples of recovery, though we’re not blind to the fact that there are parts of the industry that still struggle.

We noticed that when you looked at the actual premises where people gamble that’s still down over 18 percent from pre-pandemic levels. What do you think the reason for that is?

I think there are a couple of reasons. One is that during the pandemic, we saw generally consumer behaviors change—not just in gambling, but if you look across the board, online shopping, for example, fewer people go to supermarkets than they used to. The pandemic just changed the way we all act as consumers. And I think you’ve seen some of that in gambling—a bit of channel shift going to online gambling. I think it’s indicative as well that in the U.K., we have a healthy, vibrant gambling market where you can choose different products, different channels to gamble. So consumers had lots of different choices, and they have been exercising that choice.

You also just recently released a report on the gambling funds raised for good causes. Can you explain what good causes are?

The two areas this comes through: One is in terms of the National Lottery. A lot of good causes are supported by our National Lottery. It was the reason the government set up the lottery in the early ’90s—to generate funds for good causes. We see a whole range of good causes benefiting from local community products to things like our Olympic athletes. The reason Britain has had some real success in the Olympics over recent years has been in large part due to good-cause money from lotteries.

Similarly, we expect gambling companies to provide a voluntary contribution to support research, education, and treatment services. That’s something that’s undergoing a period of reform at the moment. The government is bringing in a statutory levy to fund those services in the future. But it’s just another example of where a range of different good causes do receive money from the gambling industry.

How do you do research into problem gambling in the U.K., and how does it compare with other countries?

We have a wide range of ways we do it. One of the important roles that we have in terms of being a regulator is we are the official statistics body on behalf of the British government. So we carry out surveys to measure participation rates and the rate of problem gambling. And actually, it’s a really important time for us in this. We are in the process of rolling out a brand-new approach to doing that which will shortly be going live, known as the Gambling Survey of Great Britain. It will be the biggest survey of its kind anywhere in the world. When it’s fully operational, we’ll be surveying around 20,000 consumers a year, and that gives us a really comprehensive picture of what people are gambling on, what levels of harm and what types of harm that we’re seeing. And that gives us a really strong evidence base to inform our regulation.

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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