The 2020 edition of Safer Gambling Week reached its climax yesterday, with one central theme evident throughout CasinoBeats‘ numerous discourses is the necessity to ensure that the momentum built-up doesn’t quickly run out of steam.
With this in mind, we are taking a look back over a selection of activations, initiatives and opinions gathered during the seven-day period, as the annual campaign aims to unify all sectors of the gambling industry year-round.
The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust, a recipient of a Football Index donation during the week (documented below) emphasised an importance for all stakeholders work together to support initiatives that raise awareness of the potential risks associated with gambling.
Pinpointing education as an “essential component” in preventing gambling-related harms, Daniel Bliss, the director of external affairs at YGAM, spoke of the appetite for sweeping reform within the UK ahead of the impending 2005 Gambling Act review: “The government review will be a momentous period for the everyone connected to the gambling industry. I believe views from all perspectives should be welcomed and respected throughout the process.
“YGAM is not a campaigning organisation, however we will work closely with stakeholders and the government to offer our insight to ensure any changes are focused on keeping future generations safe. Progress has been made in recent years but I think we all agree that more needs to be done to protect consumers in a fast-paced digital world.”
Much has been made, and will continue to be written and debated, of the relationship the industry has with the UK’s most popular sport.
During SGW a number of football clubs saw sponsorships switched-up to allow the campaign, or responsible gambling charity, to occupy the space instead.
Premier League side Fulham saw main team partner BetVictor donate their front of shirt sponsorship for the past weekend’s match against Everton to SGW.
Marking the first time that a front-of-shirt gambling brand sponsor has donated their own branding for a charity campaign during a Premier League match, the Safer Gambling Week logo, rather than BetVictor, was displayed on Fulham’s shirts as they lost at home to Everton. The operator also donated their advertising space on the big screens, matchday programme, and LED boards.
Football Index donated its shirt sponsorship for Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers to the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust, to coincide with Safer Gambling Week.
As a result, QPR wore special edition shirts for their London derby against Watford on Saturday 21 November, with Nottingham Forest sporting the attire when they took on Bournemouth on Tuesday 24 November.
Furthermore, Reading Football Club also signed-up its support, which saw the Royals’ jerseys remove the Casumo logo to showcase CasumoCares, the Malta-based online casino operator’s site dedicated to safe and responsible gambling.
The industry and players must ensure activity is within safe boundaries, particularly time and money, said Jack Symons, co-founder and director of Gamban, as SGW got underway on Thursday 19 November.
As well as elaborating on the action that needs to be taken to combat the threat of the black market, the multitude of tools available, and what the campaign means for the firm, Symons also detailed the importance of the industry ensuring that the messages associated with SGW continue to be spread all year round: “Communication of tools and support must be consistent, concise and prompt. Naturally, it’s following a significant loss that a player is willing to engage in help and support.
“When someone needs help, they are likely to be at their most vulnerable. We understand that the best barriers are blocking software (Gamban), the National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme (Gamstop) and transaction blocking delivered through [most] banks.
“Ensuring these three tools are delivered, in combination with someone to talk to (National Gambling Helpline) – without the distraction of cluttered RG pages – is critical. Recognising that self-exclusion is a last resort, industry and players alike must ensure activity is within safe boundaries, particularly time and money.”
During a busy week Microgaming extended its support for the Gordon Moody Association, announcing it will provide the charity with funding to support the families of those receiving therapy for problem gambling via its PlayItForward CSR programme.
This followed the firm’s CSR program also donating social media safety packs to all Isle of Man schools and colleges, with a view to helping protect the island’s youngsters from online harms.
Speaking to CasinoBeats, Kimberley Broad, Microgaming director of compliance, touched upon how the company intends to build upon its own efforts moving forward: “While PlayItForward is fully embedded in our culture at Microgaming, we’re always adapting and building the programme to ensure it continues to support the right initiatives.
“Key to its evolution in 2021 will be the introduction of a new advisory panel consisting of experts, specialists and volunteers from our own teams and external partner network. The panel’s principal role is to consider the viability of more specialised charitable requests, based on their areas of expertise, which include healthcare, law and the environment.
“With plans to extend our support for projects both locally on the Isle of Man and further afield, we’re also aiming to assist more worthy causes across our global communities, including Malta and Gibraltar.”
The mobile health app, that centres around scientifically-backed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, addressed a number of key issues during its SGW conversation with CasinoBeats.
Furthermore, RecoverMe, which was developed by three junior doctors, Minal Jain, Tejus Patel and Adil Nayeem, concluded SGW by linking-up with Epic Risk Management.
This will see the app being used as part of selected Epic Risk Management’s educational programmes to support individuals who may be at risk or already suffering from a gambling addiction.
After addressing just why campaign’s such as SGW are important for the industry, Jain examined why education is key as a preventative measure, as well as if players need to be made more aware of support services to ensure that they fully understand the associated risks: “Gambling addiction is considered to be a hidden addiction and therefore, educating starts not only with the individual but organisations, society and healthcare workers,” she explained.
“This is essential to be able to prevent gambling addiction or at least reduce the severity of it. Player education is valuable but there are several other measures we can also consider to prevent a gambling addiction.
“These include bettering our understanding of this addiction through continuous research, controlling the exposure to gambling in the younger population, and stringent measures to protect vulnerable players.
“Individuals can gamble socially but for those who develop a gambling addiction, we must ensure that they are aware of the support services that are available to them. Additionally, they should know how to access these support services. Collaboration within service provision is key as it allows us to direct individuals to the most appropriate form of help for them.”
A day before SGW commenced, Videoslots officially debuted its responsible gaming bar, asserting that the move represents a “UK first” as the operator strives to enhance its player safety protocols during the pandemic and beyond.
The bar will always be visible after a player has logged on to their account, including in-game. It features an 18+ badge, a session timer, and direct links to Gamstop, the company’s responsible gaming page and the Gambling Commission.
“We made a sustained effort to boost our responsible gambling tools over the years and have implemented a raft of changes to make players safer,” Amina Norgosanow, head of responsible gaming at Videoslots, said of the implementation.
“The responsible gambling bar gives us the opportunity to display access to key tools prominently, alongside a time feature that lets players know how long they have been active on Videoslots.
“It is not a legal requirement in the UK where we have become the first operator to introduce it, but we felt it was the right thing to do. Feedback has been positive so far, from both inside and outside Videoslots.”