The Kindred Group, formerly known as the Unibet Group, has announced the launch of a new product aimed to protect minors from gambling-related adverts. As part of the nationwide movement to limit children’s exposure to the betting industry, the operator has developed an ad blocker in conjunction with Betfilter.
Known officially as AdBlocker, the tool will act as a browser add-on that users can install if they want to stop gambling adverts reaching their children. In practice, anyone who wants to limit their children’s exposure to the industry can download AdBlocker to any desktop or mobile device.
Running in the background, the app will filter each webpage, video or mobile content for banners, pop-ups and anything else containing gambling-related keywords. Maris Bonello, Integrity Analyst Manager at Kindred Group, said:
“We have always been very clear that our products are only to be used by adults over the age of 18, and therefore see this tool as an important addition to our responsible gambling toolbox. This project also follows our commitment to supply a joyful form of entertainment to our customers.”
According to a recent study from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), children are now experiencing gambling in situations where the risks aren’t being properly explained to them. Focusing on 11-to-16-year-olds, the December 2017 study found that 80% of those surveyed had seen some form of gambling advert on the TV.
And then 70% on social media and 66% on other websites. Additionally, 10% of those aged 16 and under followed the social media accounts of at least one betting company, while 12% admitted to placing a bet within a week of being surveyed. In light of the new data, the UKGC has called for industry operators to do more.
Although the organisation’s Executive Director Tim Miller acknowledged that much of the exposure to gambling is coming via social media, console games and the playground, he urged all industry players to tighten their controls. Miller wrote the following in an official UKGC press release:
“We require gambling operators to have strong protections in place to prevent children from accessing their products and are actively reviewing how some, like age verification, can continue to be strengthened."
Since the UKGC took control of the UK’s online betting industry in 2014, it has made social responsibility a priority. As well as tackling underage gambling, the organisation has sought to improve the way betting brands communicate their terms and conditions to customers.
Most notably, issues regarding the transparency of online casino bonuses has seen big names such as BGO receive six-figure fines for failing to explain their promotions adequately. In addition to tackling unclear offers, the UKGC has moved to protect vulnerable punters and those who may be at risk of gambling problems.
In August 2017, 888 was forced to pay a record fine of £7.8 million after the UKGC discovered ‘significant’ flaws in its social responsibility process. At the heart of the matter were technical faults in the company’s self-exclusion system as well as a failure to spot signs of problem gambling.
Commenting on the incident, UKGC Chief Executive Sarah Harrison, who is stepping down in February, explained that the fine would not only set an example to others but help to repair some of the damage caused.
“The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected don’t lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learnt.”
Although the penalties have often been swift and unforgiving, the UKGC’s drive appears to be working. Across the industry, operators are now altering their policies and working to ensure customers are better informed and better protected.
Alongside the latest news from the Kindred Group, which should see fewer children exposed to online betting ads, BGO has introduced wager-free bonuses. In a bid to clear up any confusion regarding playthrough requirements and restricted withdrawals, BGO now offers Fair Spins.
For players and the industry at large, the recent shift will prove extremely positive. While some operators may have taken some knocks in the short term, innovations such as Kindred’s AdBlocker can only help to improve everyone’s online experience.