In 2021 and beyond, accountability is what the gambling sector needs more of
Accountability is more than a word, it’s the key ingredient for a future-proof online gambling sector, writes Maarten Haijer.
At EGBA we want betting to be enjoyable for everyone. After all, that’s why we do what we do. Our members sell entertainment, and we want people to have a good time. Most customers enjoy an occasional bet on the horses, their favourite football team or a hand of poker. But for some, gambling can be problematic, even harmful, and companies must do more to protect them.
That’s why I’m very pleased that our member Kindred Group recently took the initiative to publish the share of its revenues from customers who have a high-risk of gambling harm. Kindred derives 4% of its revenue from high-risk gamblers and has, importantly, committed to reducing this to zero by 2023. This is a really important initiative – for customers and the sector – and a big step forward in transparency and accountability.
When you look at their numbers, it’s clear that Kindred’s internal procedures for detecting and addressing problematic gambling behaviour are already delivering positive results: over 70% of the customers detected by Kindred’s Player Safety Early Detection System positively changed their gambling behaviour upon detection and intervention from the company.
And it’s not just Kindred: all our member companies are doubling down on their efforts to promote safer gambling. Collectively, they’re communicating more than ever before about safer gambling. In fact, they made 1.2 million direct communications and interventions with their customers to promote safer gambling in 2019. This was a big step up and an increase of 50% from the year before.
A large part of their communication efforts was directing customers to the safer gambling tools which our members offer to their customers. These efforts worked: because 63% of their customers used safer gambling tools in 2019. This is more than ever before, and a marked increase from the previous year when just over a third, 37%, of their customers used these tools.
Our members also assist people to stop gambling if they need to. Self-exclusion is a vital safety net for those fearing or experiencing gambling harm and it enables them to stop. In response to self-exclusion requests, our members closed 800,000 customer accounts, temporarily or permanently, in 2019.
Our members are jointly putting their words into action and EGBA is committed to lead from the front, at a time when the online gambling sector is rightly under public scrutiny. Because there are still way too many companies in the sector who far too readily point the finger angrily at regulation and complain about it, without taking responsibility and providing solutions.
The sector needs to become much more mature in how it responds to society and it needs to do so quickly. This includes acknowledging that the sector is accountable for what it does and doesn’t do, and how it protects its customers, particularly those who need greater support. Otherwise, the future will look bleak, especially for those companies which continue to think that the best course of action to public scrutiny is to do nothing.
In 2021 and beyond, accountability is what we need more of.
– Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA)
 The Player Safety Early Detection System (PS-EDS) system monitors customer behaviour to determine if there are signs of problematic gambling and allows the company to identify those who are at risk and to interact and help them with a range of tested support tools.