How selling responsibly starts with the way we support our retailers
After two decades spent behind the till, Wolverhampton retailer Bal Ghuman knows a thing or two about serving customers. He owns a string of independent stores across the Black Country and spends a lot of time training store staff on things like preventing underage sales.
“In many ways it is easier now because Think 21 and Challenge 25 are well known and accepted by customers and staff, so I always use these initiatives to guide the staff on how to prevent underage sales,” says Bal. “It’s not their shop so some might get complacent but I constantly impress upon them that they have to feel like the store is their store – that it’s their reputation that is on the line too.”
In the UK, around 80% of National Lottery sales are through our 47,000 retailers like Bal. These retailers are the face of our products, so we need to make sure they’re able to spot underage players, people who are playing too much, and even those trying their hand at fraud.
First, training. Becoming a National Lottery retailer means in-person training with our sales teams, how-to's on our lottery terminals and online training. This training includes tips on preventing both excessive and underage play.
Second, keep in touch. Player protection has to stay front of mind so this year we’ve changed the way we communicate with our retailers. We are going to be more frequent, more engaging and more detailed. We’ll be checking in with our retailers later this year to hear what they think.
Third, mystery shop. Operation Child is one way we make sure that underage sales remain a low-risk for The National Lottery. We test our retailers, by sending in young people who are aged 16 or over but who look younger. If a retailer fails three separate Operation Child visits, we have the right to remove their terminal.
Fourth, innovate. We use Operation Child to target geographical areas that we know to be more high-risk, whether through socio-economic factors or past mystery shop results. We work with these retailers to improve their safeguards so that they pass any future mystery-shopper visits.
Fifth, audit. All of our retail operations and processes are checked by our own internal auditors, independent auditors, and representatives from our regulator, The Gambling Commission.
They speak for themselves. Our of 10,002 National Lottery outlets visited by Operation Child in 2015–16, 86% of retailers that refused to sell to the young person on the first visit. Just seven retailers failed three tests in a row. As a result, they have either had their National Lottery terminals taken away for one year or are facing investigation.