ūüéßSBC Podcast #58: Abbie McGregor & Andrew Woodman of the newly formed Gamblers Consumer Forum

In the latest SBC Podcast I am joined by two expert guests – Abbie McGregor and Andrew Woodman – to discuss the formation of the¬†Gamblers Consumer Forum¬†(GCF)¬†– a new ‘Punters Union’ they have setup to represent the majority that bet and the issues that matter to us.

These issues include pushing back against the affordability and deposit limits that impact all bettors and many of the other queries raised by the recent Gambling White Paper and its proposals for the future of betting in the UK.

The GCF launched on Thursday at the very first SmartBash, with Abbie and Andrew presenting new ideas, research and practical solutions to make gambling better for all punters.

In this chat, we cover everything from the reason for the group’s formation to the key battlegrounds for debate in the public arena.

You can listen to Episode 58 now via Apple / Spotify / Google / YouTube and all other major podcast directories (search Smart Betting Club)

An in-depth chat with representatives from this essential new body

In this episode Abbie, Andrew and I discuss:

  • Why the Gamblers Consumer Forum has been set up and what its main objectives are
  • The forum’s independence from outside influences
  • Countering the anti-gambling narrative
  • How the body will be funded and who it will represent
  • Science, data and how this will be central to how the forum will lobby decision makers and debate in public
  • Academia’s role in forming the White Paper and how their ideas are neither practical or useful
  • The nature of addiction and why a blanket approach will not work
  • Why clinical specialists are best placed to help those who struggle to control their gambling
  • The black market, its prevalence and why its growth could be an unintended consequence of current proposals
  • The questionable decision to entrust bookmakers with identifying and helping problem gamblers
  • ‘Frictionless checks’ and how useful (or not) they are
  • How (and why) gambling is treated differently to other similar activities
  • Failures of regulation, disingenuous research and how confirmation bias can be blamed for the thinking of some key stakeholders in the industry
  • The Gambling Commission, its weaknesses and how it could be improved upon
  • Lessons that can be learnt from debating organisations like Animal Rising
  • GCF’s plans and the support that they are asking for

Abbie and Andrew are great representatives to get a positive message about gambling across and it was fascinating to hear their ideas.

Both of them love betting, both understand the industry, are excellent debaters and between them, they have expertise in science and politics that can present a practical and sensible set of proposals for how we move forward.

I enjoyed this chat and it gave me hope that this argument can be won – I hope that you feel the same after listening!

The Gamblers Consumer Forum can be followed on Twitter at @GamblersCForum and their website, which will act as the main hub for information and news, will be launched later this week.

Smart Bash: Unpacking Thursday’s Inaugural Betting Event In London & Its Goals!

On Thursday Evening in London, SBC alongside our friends at Bookie Bashing hosted the very first Smart Bash event, details of which you may have seen posted on Twitter including photos and videos.

We had around 60 invited guests in attendance from all aspects of the industry including bookmakers, professional punters, tipsters, broadcasters, business owners and more.

The event included a presentation from the newly launched Gamblers Consumer Forum (see below) and a panel discussing current issues featuring some prominent names from the betting world.

48 hours later I wanted to reflect on and explain the goal of the event and what we hope it is able to achieve.

Raising Awareness

Primarily, Smart Bash was an opportunity to raise awareness as regards a few key topics that impact those of us bet such as:

  • The inherent issues in the current way gambling is being regulated including Affordability & Deposit Limits that are impacting both bookmakers and punters alike
  • The very real concerns about what has been proposed in the recent gambling white paper and fear it will lead to further growth of the black market.
  • The failure of the Gambling Commission and Government to properly regulate and understand the betting industry.
  • To showcase betting in a positive light and the many benefits it can bring

Representing The Majority Who Bet

We saw Smart Bash as an opportunity to present a unified voice that pushes back at the very negative stories that we see surround betting in the media at present.

Whilst acknowledging the need to have safeguards in place to protect the vulnerable and those suffering with addiction, the vast, vast majority of those who bet do so sensibly, enjoyably and do not require intervention or oversight on their betting and how much they spend on it.

For too long this majority of bettors has not been heard from, nor their issues represented and it is high time they were listened to by those making important decisions on the future of the industry.

Applying affordability and deposit checks on all of these bettors is unnecessary, unreasonable and unworkable for both bookies and punters and is only serving to push the the latter into the black market to bet.

There is very little confidence in the work of those running the Gambling Commission currently to fairly and properly regulate the industry, nor is there a viable Dispute Resolution service or Ombudsman in place to tackle bettors many grievances.

Gamblers Consumer Forum

Furthermore, Smart Bash also served as an official launch pad for the newly setup Gamblers Consumer Forum (GCF) who presented to attendees about their new organisation designed to represent the interests of bettors.

The GCF is led by Andrew Woodman and Abbie McGregor who together believe that the White Paper is deeply flawed on both affordability and addiction and will push for a complete rethink.

Their goal is to represent the voice of the ordinary gambler and we were happy to host them and help launch their new organisation. A podcast with the GCF will be released on Monday to help explain more on their work.

Networking & Growing Your Betting

As well as raising awareness on the issues above, Smart Bash also served as an opportunity to get some of the very smartest and brightest bettors in a room together to see how we can help each other out.

Betting for many can be quite an isolated endeavour so the chance to meet others in the industry to see how we can push our betting forward was a real highlight.

Speaking from an SBC perspective, it was great to chat with many past and hopefully future podcast guests and to meet so many successful professional punters, tipsters , betting experts and independent bookmakers.

These conversations and relationships will only serve to help us grow our knowledge and experience and help us to better inform and help SBC members that much more in the future.

A Launchpad For A Bigger Smart Bash Event!

For those of you wondering – why didn’t I know about or get an invite to Smart Bash?

This is simply because we kept it all very low key in the build up to it and invite only as we also wanted to gauge the feasibility and interest in holding a larger, ticketed Smart Bash event in the future.

That is a very real possibility as the feedback so far from those attending was very positive and demand seems to be there for it!

In coming weeks and months we will no doubt explore this concept further as we reflect on Thursday Evening.

So that is a summary of what took place in London this week and why we held Smart Bash and its goals and achievements. A huge thank-you to all of those who attended and supported the event, especially the panel of experts and GCF for their time and expertise.

If you have any questions on it or even want to flag your interest in attending or being involved in some capacity at a larger Smart Bash event in future, do please reach out.