Rob Mabbett: “Most of the leading safer gambling organisations will be present at this year’s EAG.”

In May 2023 Better Change announced the appointment of Rob Mabbett as its first Engagement Director. Rob has over a decade’s experience in the gambling industry, having previously worked for BETFRED where he was named Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year in 2016. More recently, he worked as the Director of External Engagement at Gordon Moody, the UK’s leading treatment provider. With positive play at the core of its mission Better Change is one of ten organisations that will have a presence on the bacta Safer Gambling Hub at EAG (16th – 18th January, ExCeL London). Rob discusses why it’s so important for safer gambling organisations to have a presence at the industry’s key events and provides some thought provoking insight on how a Statutory Levy could change the industry dynamic.

How can the industry benefit from participating in the bacta Safer Gambling Hub at EAG?

Most of the leading safer gambling organisations will be present at this year’s EAG so it is a great opportunity for the industry to engage and learn about the wide range of services that are on offer. From B2C services such as safer gambling tools, helplines and treatment programmes to B2B services designed to educate and inform, the bacta Safer Gambling Hub will be an important resource for those looking to invest in their customer experience offer. This is also a two-way street and those participating in the Safer Gambling Hub would also like to hear from the industry on the challenges and pain-points they face especially in the light of changing regulation. I see this collaboration as hugely important, we all want a sustainable industry and I would like to see the industry get on the front foot this year and work with safer gambling organisations to demonstrate some of the great work that’s being done to make gambling safer and improve the reputation of our industry because let’s face it, over the past few years our sector has had to endure some very negative press not all of which was accurate and we should be confident enough to challenge that.

How significant is it that Paul Bellringer OBE has agreed to open the Hub?

It is very fitting to have someone of Paul’s stature open the Safer Gambling Hub at EAG. Paul has worked to make gambling safer for over 30-years and is a huge influence on the way we look at safer gambling today. In 1997 he founded GamCare which today provides support to tens of thousands of people through the national gambling helpline and other support services. 

Do you think the introduction of a Statutory Levy will change what has become a safer gambling culture into another tax on gambling?

The way safer gambling is currently funded through voluntary contributions to Research, Education and Treatment (RET) was not perfect. There needed to be more evaluation of how the money was spent so that we could demonstrate the outcomes of this work and the benefit of collaborating with the industry and breeding a safer gambling culture. My fears around the levy is that this collaboration will be lost not just because some area of the industry will feel aggrieved at the level at which the levy is set (0.4 percent for manufacturers is a joke) but also because some of the organisations that are in line to be beneficiaries of the levy refuse to work with the industry which is madness, nobody should be excluded from the collective effort to reduce gambling harm. I very much fear that this backward thinking could lead to the levy just becoming another tax on gambling and that is bad news for the millions of people who enjoy gambling and do so safely. It will be the voice of the small minority who experience harm that will have the greater influence over how the money is spent and some of the additional costs brought in by the levy may be passed down to the consumer. However the levy is implemented I would strongly urge the industry to demand to know how this money is being spent and what it achieves.

The 4,000+ operators expected to attend EAG 2024 will have the opportunity to access the industry’s very latest product launches and innovations, share insights and experiences with industry colleagues, keep up with developments impacting social responsibility courtesy of the Bacta Safer Gambling Hub, participate in Bacta’s new ‘thinkbite’ branded seminar programme, join Bacta’s 50th celebrations and mark industry excellence at the Bacta Annual Awards.

To register for the FREE to attend EAG Expo: