Maarten Haijer: Putting Cooperation Into Action For A Sustainable Industry Future

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, takes a look back at EGBA’s activities over the past year and outlines why sustainability must be at the forefront of the industry’s agenda. This article features in EGBA’s recently published annual Sustainability Report 2022/23.

As I look back on the past year, it is difficult to believe how quickly the time has passed. It has been a busy period at EGBA as we continue to push forward with our sustainability agenda. There has been positive and continuous progress, and we are pleased to showcase this in our third annual sustainability report.

Our members have been stepping up their efforts this past year by investing in and positively contributing to the communities where they operate, and working to ensure their customers have the safest gambling experience possible. At EGBA, we are also pleased that key areas of our organisation’s work have come to fruition.

We successfully gathered broad political support for a common European standard on markers of online gambling harm, a process which is ongoing and the end result will be a significant step forward for safer gambling. We also introduced our new industry guidelines on anti-money laundering which we are now encouraging other operators to also adopt.

Through these initiatives we aim to foster greater responsibility and cooperation across the industry, because only by working together will we see a positive, long-term future. We regularly brought together 24 national and pan-national trade bodies this past year to work on important joint industry actions, such as the delivery of the 2022 European Safer Gambling Week.

Greater cooperation is crucial because, while there has been positive progress in recent years, there are still too many operators who continue to behave outside the norms of society, damaging not only their own reputation but undercutting the wider industry’s credibility. These operators need to wake up to the changing political and regulatory landscape: it is not 2007 and this is not a nascent industry anymore.

While we do not necessarily agree with all the regulation that we see, regulation is part of being a mature industry. Rather than pointing the finger at “overregulation”, those operators should acknowledge that politics reflect broader societal demands, ask themselves why regulations are tightening, and work together with other industry stakeholders, including EGBA and its members, to find answers to society’s demands.

Critical self-reflection, however, requires commitment from the highest levels of leadership. That is why I am particularly pleased and thankful that, in this report, the CEOs of our member companies personally make their case for a sustainable approach to gambling. In their joint letter, they set out a clear direction of travel for this industry.

As I look ahead to the future, it is clear that sustainability must be at the forefront of the industry’s agenda. For our part, we will continue to encourage greater engagement, responsibility, and cooperation between stakeholders both inside and outside the industry. We invite you to dive into this year’s report, and learn more about what we and our members are doing to contribute to a sustainable industry future.

Yours sincerely,

Maarten Haijer

Secretary General, EGBA

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