Helen Walton says gaming needs to take responsibility for product, marketing and customer care beyond the letter of the law
Gamevy Chief Commercial Officer, Helen Walton, who is chairing the upcoming WrB symposium Responsible Gaming Innovation (September 12, OXO2, London), believes the gaming sector must have a shared and joined-up approach to responsible gambling if the industry is to avoid more regulation and a hardening of the negative narrative which surrounds the sector.
Speaking ahead of WrB, Helen Walton said: “What I’m hoping to do as Chair is remind everyone of the need for us to take personal responsibility for our product design, our advertising and how we treat players – in a way that goes beyond simply complying with regulation and the letter of the law.’ She continued: “We need everyone to care about responsible gambling – not just a compliance manager. Hiving compliance off to be just one person or team’s responsibility is always a bad idea, making it seem as if others in the business don’t need to consider it.”
Walton believes that responsible gambling can be defined under the broad headings of ‘fun’ and ‘entertainment’ – terms which, she argues, should punctuate each interaction. “Sure, customers want a chance at a big win, but gambling should mean having fun even when they don’t win” she said, acknowledging that for most people gambling is one of many activities which can be enjoyed as part of normal life. “For a small proportion of people, gambling stops being fun and becomes a problem – and because of the devastation that can wreak on individuals and their families’ lives, it behoves us to do everything we can to prevent addictions from forming and to help those where addiction does occur.”
Dealing with the thorny issue of pan European standards, the WrB chair believes that common standards are ‘essential’ and will help to reduce complexity and the pressure on margins. The existence of different regulatory regimes is in her words ‘time consuming and painful’ with the only real beneficaries being testing houses and compliance advisors. She stated: “Of course, Brexit hardly helps in such matters, since it seems to signal a less united regime. In general, the industry should stop squabbling – lotteries and sportsbooks can appear to be claiming to be morally superior to casinos – and agree a better approach to rejecting unfair criticism and building a more constructive and acceptable social face. Common standards are part of that, and the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages of compromise.
“I for one would welcome the government thinking long and hard about the outcomes they really want – and considering models used by other countries (minimum game durations in Norsk Tipping and Canada, for example, may be more sensible than ‘reality checks’). I’d also welcome greater co-operation – a European or at least National database so that customers could self-exclude from all gambling sites at once.”
She concluded: “I’m looking forward to a real mix of people sharing views honestly and openly – experts with business leaders and charities. I think we need to talk about these issues – taking a commercial and a moral view as well as an operational compliance one. I want us to think about product design and how we measure game success, and acknowledge the pressures that can lead to design decisions which aren’t always in players’ best interests. I’m hoping for an energising and enlightening day!”
Clarion Gaming’s Responsible Gaming Innovation, takes place on September 12th, 2017, at OXO2, London. Part of the WrB programme of C-Level briefings, Responsible Gaming Innovation gathers a European audience of thought leaders and opinion formers to discuss responsible gambling politics, technology and commercial strategy. For more information and to register, visit: wrbriefing.com/europe