John Hagan: IGRG – Industry Engagement is key to improving player protections

John Hagan

John Hagan, Partner at London law firm Harris Hagan and Chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG), has outlined how industry stakeholders should aim to build coherent dialogue with the government with regards to the industry’s social responsibility measures.

Speaking to industry news source Totally Gaming on the matter of social responsibility and player protection, as the UK government reviews gambling regulations with regards to FOBTs and advertising/marketing standards. Hagan told Totally Gaming that perspective is needed by industry stakeholders.

As Chairman of the IGRG, Hagan notes the successful implementation of the UK industry’s ‘self-exclusion schemes’, which should demonstrate that both industry and regulators can work together and effectively improve consumer protections.

Working between industry and governmental stakeholders, Hagan details that the IGRG has spent a significant amount of resource measuring the effectiveness of social responsibility measures. “From its inception, the IGRG commissioned a stock take of the existing social responsibility activities in each sector to understand what was currently happening and to identify potential areas in which the whole industry could contribute to and benefit from.”

Hagan adds that cooperation between parties has led to notable improvements in messaging, problem gambling awareness and overall industry standards and practices.

However, Hagan warns that industry participation and engagement is still needed in order to progress industry-governmental agenda in the next phases of potential regulation.

“Industry participation is vital to obtaining information on current activities, establishing a vision for the future, testing messaging options, developing outcomes that are practical and workable and, critically, implementing them. Successful industry participation is vital to ensure that the operators have ‘bought into’ the implementation of the outcomes.”

The IGRG and Hagan believe that  forward steps have been taken, with his organisation aware of industry governance desires to ‘do better’ with regards to responsible gambling standards.

“We are in a very different place to where we were, even a year or two ago. The issues have moved from the compliance and regulatory affairs departments to the boardrooms of the biggest gambling operators in all sectors, and that is where the brave leadership is going to come from to shape the future of the industry.”

“This is leadership which will be deserving of support and recognition from the Gambling Commission.”

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