In a joint letter, the CEOs* of bet365, Betsson, Entain Group, Flutter Entertainment, Kindred Group, and William Hill International have united to outline their collective ambition to foster a more sustainable online gambling sector in Europe. The letter features in EGBA’s recently published annual Sustainability Report 2021/22.
Over the past year, we have seen the gaming and betting sector’s commitment to protecting its customers come under close scrutiny from politicians and regulators across Europe. Now, more than ever, the entire sector must come together and redouble its efforts to promote safe and sustainable gambling.
Be it having a bet on the World Cup, or playing a game of poker, gambling is still one of Europe’s most popular forms of entertainment and it is enjoyed safely by many millions of adults across Europe. But we know that for some, it can lead to harm to them and their immediate social circle.
As Europe’s leading online gaming and betting companies, it is entirely in our interest to have long-term customers who enjoy a bet, do so within their means, and consider gambling for what it is – a great form of entertainment. We therefore take our responsibilities to protect our customers very seriously.
Our teams are constantly working to provide our customers with a safe and sustainable experience through the promotion of safety tools, messaging, and information to help consumers be protected and well informed about the risks of gambling.
This not only helps us to build trust with our customers as responsible and trustworthy businesses, but also with other important stakeholders in society. It is the right thing to do by our customers and the commercially sound thing to do. Safe and sustainable gambling is good for all.
Investing in a strong culture of safer gambling
We are investing heavily in the latest tools and technologies to provide our customers with the safest and most personalised experience possible. It is therefore positive and encouraging that half of our European customers – nearly 15 million of them – are now using the safer gambling tools we provide.
A fundamental part of our efforts is the use of behavioural science to help identify and intervene with customers where there are markers of harm. We are doing more to educate our customers about these behaviours and signpost the appropriate self-help tools available to them, such as helplines.
In fact, we are now communicating more than ever to our customers about safer gambling – and in an increasingly personalised way. Last year, we collectively sent 38 million communications to our customers to promote safer play, with 60% of these communications being tailored to the customer based on their own individual playing behaviour.
Through these preventative actions we aim to promote a strong culture of safer gambling across the entirety of our businesses. To embed this culture even further, we have stepped up internal trainings for employees – 80% of our 57,000 employees in Europe have now received dedicated safer gambling training – and many of our companies now link corporate remuneration to this objective.
Working towards a better understanding of problem gambling
It is a learning curve, and we strive to learn from past mistakes, implement changes when needed, and improve our efforts to protect our customers, including by contributing to improvements in research and greater understandings of problem gambling.
For example, earlier this year the EGBA published a study on how European countries monitor and report problem gambling. The study highlights the clear diversity in national approaches. It showed that many European countries still lack national surveys and there is a need to move towards a more common approach, based on evidence, best practices and markers of harm.
Going a step further to promote responsible advertising
Working towards sustainability also means taking public concern about the volume and placement of advertising seriously. Ahead of the upcoming World Cup, we took stock of our obligations as responsible advertisers, publishing the results of the first independent monitoring exercise of EGBA’s responsible advertising code, which we apply across our European operations.
The exercise found the code to be a strong baseline for responsible advertising practices and EGBA members already correctly apply most of its measures, particularly on content moderation. It also identified ways to improve the code and we are now considering these.
We want to raise the bar and set a positive example for the rest of the sector – because we cannot drive change alone. We invite Europe’s other licensed operators to join us in our sustainability agenda.
At the same time, we also need regulatory frameworks that are predictable, stable, evidence based, and mindful of customer behaviour. These frameworks should benefit customers and ensure they remain within the regulated market – because this is where they are best protected against unaccountable black-market operators who offer none of the protections of the regulated industry. So that customers always receive the best protection, regulation should be designed in a way that ensures the regulated market is always more attractive to them than the black market.
Our collective ambition is to set a course towards a more sustainable online gambling sector through a focus on safer gambling and a commitment to taking meaningful action. Through this report we aim to lead by example and be transparent about our efforts and, by doing so, demonstrate that we are committed to providing sustainable entertainment for many more years to come.
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