Joint CEO letter: A strong culture of safer gambling
In a recent joint letter, the CEOs of bet365, Betsson, Entain, Kindred Group, and William Hill International united to outline their collective ambition to foster a stronger culture of safer gambling across Europe’s online gambling sector.
Gambling is one of Europe’s oldest pastimes and, while the games and technologies may have changed, the popularity of gambling has not. For many years, our companies have been investing heavily into making online gambling a safer experience for our millions of European customers. Our objective is simple: we want all customers to have a safe and fun online gambling experience where they play within their means and consider gambling for what it is – a great form of entertainment. We believe that, as leading companies of Europe’s online gambling sector, we have a responsibility to take the lead in fostering a stronger culture of safer gambling across our sector and promoting a more sustainable future. But equally, in an increasingly interconnected digital world, we believe that a well-functioning and well-regulated licensed market is the best solution for society stakeholders and guarantee against black market operators.
The quick growth of Europe’s online gambling sector has been part of the wider transformation of digital entertainment, with consumer behaviors growing online. This global trend not only provides the opportunity to offer a more accessible and tailored customer experience, but it also opens up opportunities to make gambling safer and more sustainable. As Europe’s leading online gambling operators, we have always strived to be at the forefront of this transformation of our industry and to continually test and challenge ourselves as well as raising the bar in industry standards.
2020 has certainly provided an important test in this regard. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging situation for everyone and, as online gambling operators, we took several actions to strengthen the protection of our players and the responsibility of our advertising during this time. We also raised the bar even further in terms of our communications with customers – both old and new – to promote safer gambling.
Raising the bar of safer gambling
We believe it is our responsibility to provide our customers with information and innovative tools to help them to gamble safely. We particularly strive to support those customers who find it difficult to manage their gambling activity. With all the knowledge available today, we have never been in a better position to ensure gambling stays enjoyable for everyone. Along with greater cooperation across the sector and with regulatory authorities, we are convinced that the use of predictive modelling, the latest innovations in technology and greater access to data will help operators to raise the bar and reduce harmful gambling.
One of the most striking examples is the use of online data to identify problem gambling patterns at an earlier stage. For decades, harmful gambling has been considered a silent harm as it often remains undetected and unnoticed, negatively impacting the gamblers experiencing it and those around them. We believe that we are witnessing a monumental shift in this regard, as game-changing technology is allowing us to detect the subtle changes in behaviours which may suggest a customer is experiencing or is at risk of gambling harm. This not only helps us provide more accurate and timely support to these customers, but it is also an opportunity for the industry to support and collaborate with the academic research community, as well as experts by experience, towards a better understanding of harmful gambling and how it develops.
Supporting Europe’s sports ecosystem
Another of our ambitions is to contribute towards a more positive future for society. We embrace the ongoing process of locally regulated online gambling markets, as they provide legal clarity and structure, both for consumers and operators. They have also allowed for us operators to increase our contribution to states revenues, employment, and the financing of the sports economy and other community initiatives. A testament to this commitment is being part of an ecosystem which supports all levels of European sport, from professional to grassroots, which have all been severely affected by the global pandemic.
Setting a high bar and tracking our progress
There are clearly still some obstacles along the way in achieving our collective ambition. The challenge today is to ensure that gambling regulation in Europe, and elsewhere, provides a framework in which responsibility is incentivised through regulations which cater for a competitive market, and where rogue behavior by operators is discouraged and punished. With this first sustainability report we want to be transparent about what we are doing to support a responsible and sustainable online gambling sector in Europe. As representatives of the licensed industry, we wish to support and promote a wider discussion about safer gambling and how we can ensure that both our customers and other citizens are protected from harm. Reducing the prevalence of harmful gambling in society requires a fact-based, open and constructive dialogue in and outside our ecosystem, including with licensed operators, game developers, regulators, policy makers, payment providers, health experts, treatment professionals and experts by experience. And working collaboratively with them all.
This is the spirit in which we unite in EGBA: leading the way in driving standards upwards, being open and transparent about our work and creating a virtuous and testing dynamic across the entire online gambling sector. This spirit has also driven us to develop this annual sustainability report, as we are committed to challenging the status quo, set a high bar in protecting consumers, and continuously track our progress. Transparency, accountability, and collaboration are at the core of this approach as we aim to encourage all willing operators to join us on this journey, in a race to the top in terms of consumer protection.
Our collective ambition is to foster a strong culture of sustainable gambling across our industry, one that strives to innovate and exceed expectations, and which supports a sustainable and long-term regulatory framework for the sector. Because one customer harmed from gambling is one too many, there cannot be any other alternative. We want all customers to have a safe and fun online gambling experience where they play within their means and consider gambling for what it is – a great form of entertainment.
John Coates, Joint CEO, bet365
Jesper Svensson, CEO, Betsson Group
Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO, Entain Group
Henrik Tjärnström, CEO, Kindred Group
Patrick Jonker, CEO, Mr Green Ltd, Managing Director, William Hill International
* This joint letter appeared in EGBA’s recently published Sustainability Report 2020/21.