2020 A most challenging year but KnowNow Events planned for the rest of the year.
KnowNow turned 3 this year. Where does the time go? Here’s KnowNow MD, Paula Murphy, reflecting on the challenges this most difficult year has presented to the gambling industry and looking ahead at the planned KnowNow events for the remainder of the year.
2020 – what a crazy year it has been so far! Back in December we left the old decade and welcomed the new full of excitement for what the next few months might hold. I posted pictures of my family, all smiling, squished around my brothers dining table for breakfast on New Year’s Day accompanied by #newdecade and #movingforward. I didn’t see my brother, sister in law and my four gorgeous nieces again until three weeks ago.
As the twenty-tens became the twenties we all became aware that there was a virus in China that sounded pretty horrific. However none of us expected it to impact our lives the way it has.
Work wise, we ran a really successful two day conference in January. I visited Malta and we all went to ICE as normal at the start of February. We had an exciting schedule of events planned. Bookings were coming in for the Player Protection Forum which was set to be a really interesting programme.
February 21st was the date of the first lockdown in Europe as around 50,000 people in the Lombardy region of Italy were placed under quarantine measures. On 11th March the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic and over the next few weeks we saw unprecedented measures across Europe and beyond. Whole nations were placed in lockdown. Sporting events were cancelled and non essential businesses (basically everywhere that didn’t sell food or pharmaceuticals) were told to close their doors.
We were all asked to work from home if we could. Many were placed on furlough and how we all worked had changed for the foreseeable, just like that!
No sports meant no sports betting and all land based operations – bookies, casinos and bingo halls were closed for business. There was a lot of speculation that life in lockdown would push people to gamble online and that we would see a marked increase in problem gambling as a result.
At KnowNow we were faced with the prospect of having to postpone and cancel all of our events. This is something Matt and I did with heavy hearts after working so hard to establish the business up until that point.
New Regulatory Guidelines.
We took steps to keep in contact with our customer base. We held regular catch up calls and one thing became very apparent. This was a particularly challenging time for those working in compliance and player protection. There was very little let up. Regulators were introducing new guidelines that needed to be followed. This was as a direct result of fears around lockdown and problem gambling. Spanish authorities fast tracked planned restrictions on marketing of gambling products. Companies were expected to comply quickly making changes even though they had disparate and reduced workforces.
APPG on Gambling Related Harm.
Here in the UK we heard from the APPG on Gambling Related Harm who published a fairly damning final report back in June. This was echoed by the House of Lords Select Committee publishing it’s report, “Gambling Harm – Time for Action” on 2nd July calling for “a more robust and focused regime which prioritises the welfare of gamblers ahead of industry profits.” These reports were published against the backdrop of a full review of the 2005 Gambling Act which is looming.
In addition we face changes to the LCCP with the new guidelines introduced because of lockdown looking like they are going to stick, potential licencing of affiliates, a review of rules around advertising and marketing, continued focus on the issue of affordability and the whole “going next door challenge” and we continue to see fines being issued and even licence suspensions.
Forthcoming KnowNow Events.
Early on in lockdown, we teamed up with colleagues at Seventhwave and Rightway Compliance to create a digital course addressing current issues around compliance and player protection. The first cohort completed that course at the end of July and we were really pleased with the feedback we received from them. We are running this again in the Autumn.
Masterclass: Compliance and Player Protection for Senior Management.
We also believe that establishing a player protection culture across your entire business is an essential foundation for sustainable and ethical business development in these times. With this in mind we are running a masterclass in September. This 2 day course is specifically designed to give senior management the overview they need to make this happen.
Responsible Marketing for Gambling Operators.
Finally we plan to run our annual Responsible Marketing for Gambling Operators event in October. We have an amazing line-up of speakers including representatives from the Gambling Commission, ASA / CAP, the BGC and the EGBA as well as speakers from across the industry, support services and expert advisors such as Clifton Davies and Wiggin LLP.
This year the event will run as a digital event. Considering current government advice we feel this is the best option to still be able to deliver our content to you.
I am pleased I can now see my family again. I am mindful that I am one of the lucky ones as I know of industry colleagues who unfortunately lost loved ones to this pandemic and my thoughts are with them. We certainly don’t know what’s still to come. The situation remains very changeable but we are taking steps to ease back into our changed world of work looking to carefully return to some kind of normal.