Responsible Gambling Week gets underway this week, the public face for the year-round cross-industry initiative to promote safer gambling in the United Kingdom and Ireland
Being held from Thursday 7 – Wednesday 13, 2019, an objective was set earlier this year of highlighting the tools and advice and help available to customers, as well as the initiatives being taken by operators to promote social responsibility.
In the UK, the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling will spearhead the campaign while the Irish element will be led by the Irish Bookmakers Association. The duo will focus upon delivering information on the initiatives that are available to customers.
Ahead of 2019’s efforts getting underway CasinoBeats spoke to Wes Himes, interim CEO of The Betting and Gaming Council and member of The Industry Group For Responsible Gambling, who first addressed growth since inception “Responsible Gambling Week was launched by bookmakers in 2015, since then it has grown into the first industry-wide campaign of its kind,” he says.
“It now brings together all five sectors, speaking with one voice to promote responsible gambling, and it’s hard to overstate the significance of that. Expectations were quite modest to start with, but the campaign was a success and that gave operators the confidence to get behind it.
“Last year we saw a step-change in involvement from operators and the Irish industry joined the campaign for the first time, which was significant because many players in Ireland are gambling with companies licensed and regulated in the UK.
“We also received support from organisations outside the industry, such as football clubs and racecourses. That allowed us to broaden the conversation about safer gambling, which is one of the key objectives of the campaign.
“More than 120,000 staff at more than 10,000 venues in the UK and Ireland will be involved”
“The #RGWeek18 hashtag generated nearly 20 million impressions, compared to around seven million in 2017, and that shows how the campaign gathered momentum.”
Before moving on to detail what engagement can be expected throughout the region from large organisations to small teams and private companies: “More than 120,000 staff at more than 10,000 venues in the UK and Ireland, and on online sites, will be involved in Responsible Gambling Week and the conversations they have with customers are at the heart of the campaign.
“Every organisation can get involved, from the biggest to the very smallest – indeed some of the smaller companies may have the closest relationships with their customers.
“It has been encouraging to see the initiatives planned by staff at some venues, including sponsored fundraising events or simple invitations to take a break and chat over tea or coffee.
“All operators have made minimum commitments to support the campaign – for example, sharing content on their social media channels – but some are making significant contributions over and above this by donating advertising space on LED screens and perimeter boards at football grounds or in match programmes.
“Others have donated digital rights or print advertising space. Bookmakers are allowing ‘takeovers’ of their windows, giving the campaign real visibility on the high street.”
Accompanied by the message ‘Let’s talk about safer gambling,’ the campaign across the UK and Ireland unites the industry and beyond to focus on what part they can play to make gambling safer and reduce gambling harms, and provides a window into efforts made throughout the year.
“The input of organisations outside the industry helps us reach new audiences, that is important”
“Responsible Gambling Week is the public face of the work the industry is doing all-year round to promote safer gambling, it is not a one-off event,” Himes stressed.
“Operators are spending more time focusing on player protection, improving policies and procedures, investing in staff training and new technology and that is happening throughout the year.
“Responsible Gambling Week focuses primarily on tools, advice and information to help players understand how to gamble responsibly, but it is a collaboration between operators and their customers, not a monologue.
“Conversations between staff and customers are an important part of that process and, by investing in training for their staff, operators are empowering them to engage pro-actively with customers. That will, of course, continue to happen once the week is over.
“This year, we have launched a new website www.responsiblegamblinguk.org It is a safer gambling information hub, which includes tips, advice, tools and details of training courses. We want to drive traffic to the site all-year round.”
Himes also moves on to emphasise the importance of impacts set to be made by organisations outside of the gambling industry: “The input of organisations outside the industry helps us reach new audiences; that is important because we want the campaign messages, such as setting time and budget limits and taking breaks from playing, to be aimed at everyone, not just our core customer base.
“For example, The English Football League, which represents all 72 clubs outside the Premier League, is supporting the campaign and those clubs reach tens of millions of supporters through their social media channels.
“Cross-industry collaboration and knowledge sharing is increasingly important”
“The Racecourse Association is another supporter and all 59 racecourses across the UK will be sharing our videos and other content on their channels, whilst Aintree, Cheltenham and Doncaster will have high-profile Responsible Gambling Week branding at meetings during the week.
“This year, the campaign will also have a presence in pubs for the first time. Punch and Co is distributing leaflets, beer mats and other collateral to all 1,300 pubs in their portfolio and that is another way of extending the conversation beyond the industry.
“In the charity sector, Citizens Advice is involved in the campaign for the first time and responsible gambling literature will be distributed throughout its network of regional hubs which specialise in helping people who have a problem with their gambling.
“Gambling charities GamCare and YGAM are offering free places on training courses and workshops as part of their education and youth outreach programmes. They are tailored to provide guidance on how to start conversations with young people who may be at risk.”
Concluding by commenting on an increasing level of cross-industry collaboration in ensuring responsible gambling protocols become even more strengthened: “Cross-industry collaboration and knowledge sharing is increasingly important.
“By working together, operators from across the different sectors can share best practice – whether it concerns self-exclusion schemes or trialling algorithms to identify players who might be at risk – and that will lead to improved standards across the industry.”