Player Protection. Sorry but there is no simple solution.
Yes! We’ve got a full agenda up for our Player Protection Forum May 21st. Last years event was a great success. So to provide a subtle introduction and a few thoughts on gambling in general we hand over to our Marketing Director Matthew.
Recently I was watching videos of horse racing on YouTube (I really need to get out more). I came across the video of Sky Lantern winning the 1000 Guineas in 2013. Of course this triggered the memories. I remember thinking she was overpriced at 10-1 so politely told my wife and kids to wait on the beach while I rushed to Ladbrokes to ‘get on’. I also promised them that if she won we’d be going out for dinner that night. Anyhow, Richard Hughes rode her home in style and I collected and true to my word we were out that night.
Of course the big point to take from this happy story is that I collected my winnings and walked. No temptation to hang around and win more. This isn’t a problem for me. Yes I’ve blown winnings in the past. I may have lost more than I should on a few occasions but I’ve always had the ability to walk away. In that way I am lucky.
More Bad than Good Days.
I recently spoke with an ex-gambling addict. I stated that if you bet regularly the chances are you’ll always have more bad than good days. He told me that when you’re an addict you never have a good day. Win or lose all you’re thinking about is your next bet.
A friend of mine once told me he was in town and got ‘a tip’ for a horse. For various reasons he arrived at the bookmakers late and missed the race and the horse won. However he told me that missing the race was probably a good thing as it would have put him ‘back in the game’. He knew that he had no real plans that day. Winning that bet could have put him into a, ‘potentially damaging’, betting cycle for the rest of the day.
Since Knownow launched our first conference I’ve met people who, for them, gambling has been a destructive addiction. In many cases this has spiralled out of control. At our conferences we’ve never had an issue with having both operators and support services at our events. Furthermore we’ve had well known gambling addicts tell their stories.
I think that the only way to address problem gambling is to understand and hear stories of real lived experience of gambling addiction. At our Keeping Crime out of Gambling conference Jason Chess from Wiggin LLP showed a slide with pictures of ‘well known’ problem gamblers. He told operators in the room that in doing your job you all should have heard or need to hear these peoples stories.
On a panel discussion at ICE, Harald Neumann, CEO of Novomatic AG, spoke about the importance of regulation within the gaming industry but warned that an all out ban on specific platforms wasn’t the solution.
“Many politicians believe that gaming bans are the simple solution because then their job is done. But players will always find a way to play even if it’s illegal. Unfortunately, the 20% of politicians who are against gaming create 80% of the press and so the view in the media is mostly negative. It’s our job to train them and educate them.” Read More.
In her recent blog KnowNow MD Paula Murphy spoke out against some of the negative media coverage following ICE 2020. It really does seem that the mainstream media have an agenda against the industry. Stories about problem gambling are a regular fixture. Sadly the overall message seems to suggest that the operators are not doing their bit. This in turn drives negative public opinion.
I attended our Player Protection Workshop last year run by AMLGS. It drove home to me what a complex issue player protection really is. There is no simple solution and the industry is working on multiple fronts to address the problems and minimise harm. Yes there are still issues in the industry but the press only seem to want to address the negatives.
Keeping Crime out of Gambling.
A classic example was highlighted at our Keeping Crime out of Gambling conference in January. A letter to the Chief Executive of William Hill from the National Mental Health director was discussed. In this letter she spoke of the ‘increasingly clear and worrying links between gambling and mental health’.
The inevitable outcry from the press followed. This included front page headliners in the Daily Mail: ‘NHS: Stop Shameful bribes to gamblers’. ‘Deadly Gamble on our health’.
However it’s worth noting the following from Regulus Partners in response to this:
The 2015 survey, which showed gambling participation in England at 62% of adults (including National Lottery) and a gambling disorder rate of 0.9% prompted no such comments; and it was a similar story in 2016 when gambling participation was 56% and gambling disorder was 0.7%. For reasons that remain unclear to us, it is the 2018 data – which shows gambling participation at 54% and gambling disorder at 0.5% – that has precipitated such NHS stridency.
Social Responsibility for Gambling Operators.
At our Social Responsibility for Gambling Operators conference, Brigid Simmonds Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) spoke out against damaging false stories in the media. One of these stories was from the Daily Mail who claimed that Gambling firms had access to a database of 28 Million children and were targeting them. In conclusion she said that the gambling industry “won’t get the change we want unless we improve our public image and work together”. To improve collaboration the BGC has already had meetings with the heads of arcade trade group BACTA, as well as bingo and gaming machine associations with more planned.
During a later panel discussion – What we are actually giving back and why is the gambling industry always painted as the big bad wolf. What can we do to address this perception? – Anna Jein, sustainability manager at Kindred, pointed out that “even when we do something good, there will be a bad story in the media”.
The Player Protection Forum.
The Player Protection Forum will look into the causes of problem gambling. We’ll look at current thinking about how to combat it both in terms of prevention and treatment. In addition we’ll also be talking about creating a business culture that supports best practice, spotting problems early and dealing with them effectively. We will bring together key stakeholders from within and around the industry and provide practical advice on what the next steps need to be.