We can and will be a responsible industry even when times are so very tough
What a crazy time we all find ourselves in. This unprecedented international crisis that leaves many of us on lockdown in our homes has certainly taken its toll on our industry and our businesses.
Events Postponed and Cancelled.
I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it was to have to postpone and cancel all of our events last week. This little business that Matt and I have worked so hard to establish is based on bringing people together to share information, best practice and knowledge. Well we can’t physically bring people together right now. However we can still supply quality content and we will be working hard to find ways to do just that.
Conferences and industry events are of course not the only area affected. Most sporting events have also been postponed and cancelled. No sport means no sports betting – a huge problem in our industry. Last week Flutter Entertainment, GVC and William Hill all predicted this to have a negative impact on EBITA somewhere between £90m and £150m.
Land based venues in the UK were forced to close last Friday as part of the Government’s attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19. A measure widely supported by all concerned as demonstrated in a statement from the Betting and Gaming Council saying they “strongly welcomed” the move and that the industry “vowed to play its full part in this historic national effort to beat the virus”. But a measure that further impacts our businesses and livelihoods.
We are not the only industry impacted by this pandemic. The implications I have spoken about are completely beyond our control. Just like everyone else, we find ourselves in a situation where the landscape changes every single day. We are all having to become experts in the art of rolling with it. What we are in control of however, is how we behave throughout this crisis, how we manage our businesses, go about our marketing and continue to safeguard our customers.
Responsible Industry. Player Protection and AML Obligations.
We can not lose sight of our player protection and AML obligations. A message that was reinforced by the UK Gambling Commission in their COVID-19 guidance which stated:
“We realise that the unprecedented changes to daily life, and in some cases, financial uncertainty, will create challenges for your business. The changes will also increase the risk for some individuals, which means that despite the fact that these are challenging times we must all continue to protect consumers.”
The Commission went on to stress the importance of protecting players for online operators due to the fact that people will now be spending more time at home.
Affordability was raised as a key area to focus on especially as many customers are likely to be experiencing disrupted income.
Increased social responsibility interactions was another key consideration raised by the UKGC as we experience this uncertain time, anyone showing markers of harm should be protected.
They also urged operators to pay particular attention to the onboarding of new customers in a socially responsible way warning against exploitation of the current situation for marketing purposes.
We’ve seen promotion of obscure sporting events that are still taking place, virtual sports and casino products. This is to be expected but I would also urge caution in how we promote products to customers. Anyone who has heard Professor Mark Griffiths speak at one of our conferences will be well aware that not all products are equal when it comes to the psychology of problem gambling. These considerations need to be built-in alongside the areas the Gambling Commission has highlighted.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has already written to the Betting and Gaming Council asking for operators to set a daily gambling limit of £50 during the crisis and the UKGC has made it clear what their expectations are. I have stated many times that the people working at the organisations who attend our events really do care about social responsibility and player protection. I don’t see why that should change now. I don’t think it is necessary to cripple operators even further by imposing such a limit. After all, gambling is an industry that contributes billions of pounds in taxes and employs thousands of people. We need to see our companies surviving this storm.
I do however think that there is an opportunity here for us to demonstrate that we are a socially responsible industry and to work hard at getting this right. We, at KnowNow, will be doing all we can to get some expert guidance and advice out to help all of our customers do just that.
In the meantime though, I’m just thankful that I am able to write this blog from my nice warm home. We have food on the table. and me and my girls (who are also school working from home) are all well. I hope it stays that way and I wish everyone well. If there is anything you think KnowNow can help with or any particular topics you would like guidance on, please let Matt or I know.