Safer gambling: Putting accountability and transparency into action
We are in the entertainment game, and millions of Europeans enjoy an occasional bet on their favourite football team, tennis or playing a hand of poker. But for some of them, gambling can become problematic, even harmful, and as a sector we need to take our responsibility to help protect them. With that in mind, we decided this past year to put more focus and attention in our work to promoting accountability and sustainability in Europe’s online gambling sector.
At the beginning of the global pandemic, we began to put this strategy into action by introducing – along with 15 other online gambling associations – guidelines to encourage Europe’s online gambling companies to strengthen their efforts to promote safer gambling and protect their customers during this difficult time. It also led us to introduce a first-ever pan-European code of conduct on responsible advertising. The code is applied by all EGBA members, and together we ensured that third party monitoring of the correct application of the code already begun during the recent EURO 2020 football tournament.
As a sector, we need to be more aware of how broader society and its stakeholders perceive us, acknowledge what they say, educate to avoid misperceptions and, importantly, address those concerns which are valid and real. Accountability is crucial and EGBA and its members are prepared to lead from the front. Our priority is to put safer gambling at the heart of what we do and with this in mind, we are publishing our first-ever EGBA sustainability report.
This first report has a strong focus on safer gambling and is intended to share the progress being made by EGBA members to promote safer gambling, protect their players and to contribute positively to European society. We will publish the report yearly and hope it will support transparency about the activities of EGBA and its members and reinforce a strong culture of safer gambling, firstly within our membership but importantly also within the wider European online gambling sector.
In the report, we publish various data points we have collected from our members. For me, one of the most interesting and important findings from this initial data collection is that our members massively increased, by 133% year-on year, the number of personalised and tailored communications which they had with their customers specifically about the way that they gambled.
A large part of the broader communication efforts of our members has been to direct their customers to the safer gambling tools which they offer and it is clear that these efforts are working: 75% of their customers used safer gambling tools in 2020. This is an increase from the 63% of their customers that used these tools in 2019. This includes tools that are mandatory in certain jurisdictions, but the growth importantly also comes from the voluntary activation of safer gambling tools by customers themselves.
While there is increasing emphasis on the importance of safer gambling and the role of operators in promoting safer gambling, there is also a significant gap in research and understanding about gambling harm. That is why we have mandated several third-party studies to contribute to the research available, and we aim to publish these studies in 2021 as part of our safer gambling efforts. These studies will be published, shared and subject to an open dialogue with all interested stakeholders in order to improve our joint understanding of gambling behaviour in Europe.
I am particularly proud and pleased that this first sustainability report includes as joint letter of commitment by the CEOs of our members, outlining their collective support for safer gambling and EGBA’s sustainability drive.
Leadership and accountability are key ingredients for the development of an online gambling sector which acknowledges its place in society, answers the concerns that society might have, and ensures that its customers can place a bet online in a safe environment, both today and in the future. EGBA and its members are committed to lead from the front and this report, along with the following years’ reports, is part of our commitment to be accountable and transparent about our activities, track our progress and support our overall efforts to put safer gambling at the heart of what we do.
I hope you enjoy reading our first sustainability report and look forward to any feedback you may have.
* This blog article appeared in EGBA’s recently published Sustainability Report 2020/21.