The issue of ethical gambling is not a new notion – the betting industry has been grappling with a number of varying rules and regulations for some time. However, a new approach to the measures that are currently in place might see a shift in attitudes towards the betting industry’s role in problem gambling and the causation of the dilemma.
Speaking at Betting on Sports Europe – Digital 2020, Ekaterina Hartmann, Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at the EGBA, provided an insight into how the EGBA are going about finding solutions to problem gambling in this “crucial moment for the industry”.
She raised some important questions, explaining the issues at the heart of ethical gambling and how her company is going to tackle them: “How do we perceive a customer as low risk, medium risk or high risk? How is the risk going to be assessed? How do we conduct due diligence and enhanced due diligence? What do we accept as a source of proof or source of funds? There’s all kinds of things like this.”
Sandhya Singh, Head of Risk and Fraud at Napolean Sports and Casino, continued: “If I’m a customer and I go and play on a website, I need to feel protected. So, I want each of my Napoleon customers to feel that when they are on our website, they should see all our procedures that we have in places and know that it is an absolutely ethical site they are playing on.”
And some of the new, effective laws in Belgium allow the country’s National Bank to run checks on a player to ensure they are eligible for an increase if they request one, as Singh explained.
However, PAF’s Chief Responsibility Officer, Daniela Johansson reaffirmed her belief that the industry has a long way to go before it fulfils its aims, but called for the public to give betting companies time and to back their “bold” initiatives.
She explained: “The gambling industry has taken a lot of positive steps forward but for every step forward, there is a negative story and that will kill the advancements that have been made in the industry. We need the support and society to believe that we are a sustainable business.”
Johansson discussed how her own company was dubbed “crazy” for placing a hard cap on players’ losses and lowering the sum from €25,000 to €20,000.
“We are trying to work to be in front; we’re trying to pre-empt things and not just follow regulatory trends. And I think that’s one of the main things we need to do in this industry and hopefully what each company can also help drive,” she continued.
The session’s moderator and Director at Clifton Davies Consultancy, David Clifton, also reaffirmed that “harmonising of laws” in betting was no more than a “dream” now.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Martin Lycka, GVC’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, indicated that the world of sports betting has to bear in mind the “rather tragic lessons the industry has learned the hard way”, by showing some respect to the rules and prepare to assume some grain of responsibility for the issues that have arisen.
Additionally, Lycka encouraged betting organisations to “take a leap into the unknown” and abandon the “one-size-fits-all” regulations in favour of some more flexible mesures.
The topic of conversation turned to “the people” behind the multi-million pound betting corporations, as the panel highlighted the importance of providing all employees with sufficient training to cope with problem gambling and gamblers.
“These people do genuinely need to show passion for their roles,” Lycka suggested. “They do need to understand that, ultimately, these businesses are here to make money but at the same time, they need to be forceful enough to continuously explain to the colleagues that are perhaps too focussed on the revenue generation that the ethical side of the business needs to be at the forefront of all processes.”
Hartmann concurred and explained that she began to question this when she was asked by a colleague: “I know your employees are doing a great job but is the whole industry following the same principles?”
On the other hand, Clifton cited the last general election as a marked shift in attitudes towards the issue and insisted the industry is making significant progress, contrary to popular belief.
“Every example of an industry increasingly perceived to be putting company profits ahead of customers. We know that is not the case,” he stated.
“For the first time ever, each one of the four major political parties had gambling reform that factor within their general election manifestos at the end of last year. That is something we’ve never seen before.”
Betting on Sports Europe – Digital is the foremost conference for senior executives from European sports betting operators, providing a forum for high-level discussions that will help to shape the future of the industry.
The fully virtual event will bring together major players from markets across the continent on a single platform, where they will share best practice for tackling the industry’s major challenges and ideas about emerging opportunities.
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