Representing a distinct shift in the industry agenda, the inaugural Safer Gambling Forum kicks off today with industry leaders set to discuss all elements of problem gambling, from the political to the practical.

Evolving from a topic of conversation to a critical business activity for leading operators, the SGF encapsulates six key topics of conversation kicked off by a ‘Leadership in Safer Gambling’ session.

Graham Weir, founder and CEO at Safer Gambling Solutions, is to take charge of proceedings as chair, with the introduction coming as safer gambling and social responsibility are increasingly coming under the microscope amid numerous failures.

I don’t want this to be just another talking shop where people pat themselves on the back”

“There is no greater challenge for the industry at the moment,” Weir said on how much of a concern this is for the industry. “If we are looking for a sustainable, positive future, then we need to give the regulators, politicians and general public the confidence that we can do things properly and responsibly, otherwise restrictions will damage the positive experience that most customers enjoy. 

“Our existing and future customers should however be able to trust us to look after them. In the past that’s not always been the case. Recent coverage has sometimes focused on some historic cases and there’s no doubt that damages credibility. 

“There’s no doubt standards have improved, but there’s still so much more that can be done. The Industry needs to be better at demonstrating it’s SR credentials.”

Before moving on to address what more needs to be done to address the challenges currently being felt: “The issue of affordability needs to be dealt with and quickly. It’s not acceptable that people can quickly get themselves into significant difficulty without being spotted. 

“Operators use sophisticated tools to create opportunities to sell to people in real time, so there can be no excuse not to use those same tools to spot potentially harmful behaviour and interact. Operators need to hear from those with lived experience and sit down with all stakeholders if they are to make the progress needed. 

Our existing and future customers should be able to trust us to look after them”

“Lastly, organisations need to properly embed safer gambling principles to prevent the same mistakes being made. Anyone who offers gambling products needs to understand that there is the potential for them to harm some people, and they can’t point the finger at other sectors when they have work to do themselves.”

Taking place at the Olympia London as part of the larger CasinoBeats Summit, the exhibition floor also has a safer gambling area, with stands from EPIC, YGAM, GamCare, GAMSTOP, GamBan, BetKnowMore and Mindway AI.

“It was a huge privilege to be asked to chair the first ever Safer Gambling Forum as it’s a great opportunity to focus on the issues affecting the industry, its customers and stakeholders,” Weir stressed.

“Detaching the agenda away from the regulatory challenges gives us the opportunity to explore how to genuinely make the experience safer for customers and find ways to reduce gambling related harm. 

“Hopefully my background and experience will enable me to explore how things can be improved while cutting through some of the common myths around why things can’t be done.”

It’s not acceptable that people can quickly get themselves into significant difficulty without being spotted”

Concluding, Weir addressed what attendees can most look forward to from the day: “The opportunity to stop, reflect and take stock is always a valuable one and events like this provide the space to do just that. Listening to others and sharing best practice is something that most people don’t get the chance to do while dealing with the day job. 

“Attendees should look upon this as an opportunity to forge new partnerships and begin some genuine collaboration. I hope to be able to encourage more of that, but more importantly, I’ll be looking for opportunities to get some commitment to measurable action. 

“I don’t want this to be just another talking shop where people pat themselves on the back for all the good work they think they are doing. I’d be disappointed if I didn’t leave with a page full of ideas to be developed.”

The Safer Gambling Forum takes place at Olympia London today, September 18: learn more and buy tickets here.