GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings

Now in its second year, the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling led RG Week (1-7 Nov) unites an industry, whilst aiming to create a conversation and drive education of a wave relevant issues.

One such entity delighted with its prior introduction is GamCare, the provider of information, advice, support and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.

Drawing upon an extensive wealth of experience, the charity’s CEO Anna Hemmings spoke to CasinoBeats to address current industry efforts when it comes to such measures, and the protection/help it affords to those in need: “For responsible gambling measures to be effective, they need to be completely integrated into the business, part of the organisational culture.

“Operators should have an organisational strategy to minimise harm across their business, they need to have appropriate evaluation in place for their initiatives, and they need to share what is and what isn’t working across the sector.

“Culture change can be a real challenge, and is something we’ve had to work on at GamCare at times during our 21-year history.

“Depending on the size and operation of the business, there will be a blend of data-driven systems and controls alongside human interaction, which forms part of good customer service, delivered as part of an integrated strategy as mentioned above.

“Ultimately, the whole business needs to be willing to really get to grips with social responsibility and to work hard to safeguard customers.”

“For responsible gambling measures to be effective, they need to be completely integrated into the business”

Existing within a sector that is no stranger to criticism when it comes to RG issues, Hemmings went on to discuss if more should be done, and if so, what that should entail: “GamCare exists to minimise harm related to problem gambling, and to avoid the development of problems in those who may be at risk. In this sense it is part of GamCare’s core mission to make gambling safer for everyone.

“One of the key ways in which we can do this is to drive the experience and voice of our service users into the heart of industry practices. We see ourselves as translating the experience of our beneficiaries into constructive feedback for the industry, as well as developing innovative new ideas to close the gap between those who need support and those who access it. Effectively, we can provide the space in which that conversation can take place.

“Collectively, we need to work to make gambling activities as safe as possible. This means a mixture of approaches – in the first instance normalising conversations about gambling in society more broadly, as well as helping customers understand the tools which are available to them to help them stay in control of their gambling, providing information about risks in a clear and accessible way, and ensuring that if someone wants to take a break they can step away easily for as long as they want to.”

Before briefly addressing steps being taken by operators, and how their efforts could be ramped up further still: “Lots of operators are proactively working to understand markers of harm for their customers, so that they can interact with those customers appropriately and signpost them towards player protection tools, or to support if they need it.

“We see ourselves as translating the experience of our beneficiaries into constructive feedback for the industry”

“A better understanding of gambling related harm and how to motivate behaviour change is helpful for operators – that’s why we have launched a new training course focused on this.

“The course is receiving great feedback from staff teams who now feel empowered to take the lead in safeguarding their customers, confident to speak about sensitive issues, and in turn to provide better customer service.

“GamCare is also working with several self-exclusion schemes, including SENSE, to look at how we get people who have concerns about their gambling to our advisers on the National Gambling HelpLine as seamlessly as possible.

“Our new training is a precursor to being able to transfer calls directly to the HelpLine, so those customers receive the help they need quickly and easily in the moment that they have reached out for support.”

Concluding, Hemmings detailed what steps her organisation is to take during the course of the week: “GamCare are supporting Responsible Gambling Week again, and we will be hosting six free training and briefing sessions as part of our Youth Outreach Programme.

“They are tailored to anyone working in education and other professions dealing with young people, however parents may also wish to attend briefing sessions. The programme is designed to provide participants with the confidence to have honest conversations with young people about gambling, the knowledge to recognise the risk factors, signs and symptoms of a gambling problem and the resources to advise where to seek help if they identify someone who needs it.

“The sessions will take place in Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Leeds, and London.”

A number of message are to also be shared on social media, with a host of links for people to find out more on a range of issues, such as only spending what you can afford, setting your limits for time and money, acknowledging that gambling is not the answer to any problem, knowing that gambling when angry or upset is not a good idea and  that gambling shouldn’t interfere with your personal relationships.”

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