Coinslot sits down with John Hagan, chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling, to discuss the group’s campaign to raise awareness of responsible gambling ahead the subject’s dedicated week from 12-18 October.
Coinslot: What inspired the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) to launch Responsible Gambling Week?
John Hagan: The industry works tirelessly to promote responsible gambling – it works 24/7 – but what makes this initiative different is that for the very first time, the industry wanted to come together with one voice to maximise the impact in terms of raising awareness of responsible gambling.
That means that the Association of British Bookmakers, the Bingo Association, Bacta, the National Casino Forum and the Remote Gambling Association, and their members, are coming together under one banner. I don’t think we can underestimate how important it is that all five sectors have come together to put their differences aside and speak together with one voice on this issue.
CS: What is the primary objective of the campaign?
JH: We want to spark conversations about what it means to gamble responsibly, and I think organising this week of high-profile campaigning will act as a natural prompt. It is also a chance to inform those talks, and inform customers about what responsible gambling looks like.
I think as an industry we can some- times take that for granted, but the level of knowledge could be higher. Gambling should be a fun activity rather than a way to make money, and players should understand the risks and make an informed choice about whether they gamble and how much they can afford.
I am also not sure enough customers know about the responsible gambling tools available, whether playing online or on gambling premises. There are all sorts of tools available, from stake or deposit limits online or on gaming machines to self-exclusion schemes and time-outs, so we want to raise awareness of these during the week.
CS: How can operators get involved in the initiative, and what is the strategy for raising awareness both inside venues?
JH: The starting point for operators is to go through their trade association which will be able to provide the information and material needed during the week. Across the industry there will be posters, leaflets, banners and information points across gambling venues as well as collateral and information about the Week and responsible gambling for customers online sites.
For example, and these are minimum commitments, betting shops and amusement centres will have posters in their front windows and staff at all venues will continue to be a point of contact for customers – they are already trained in that regard – but this is a spark for that conversation to happen.
The Responsible Gambling Week logo will be presented online operators’ home pages. Bingo clubs will have pop up banners and EBT messaging and casinos will have rolling signs and digital signposting. Customers may be coming in and out for months or even years, and never thought to ask any of these questions, but the staff are there and trained for such conversations, or alternatively to refer the customer to the appropriate person in that organisation.
CS: Will the campaign reach beyond gambling establishments?
JH: There will also be an orchestrated campaign on social media as well as dedicated print interviews, not just with Coinslot, but with the wider mainstream media. We don’t want this to be a conversation limited to just within the industry – it’s very important that we get out there and talk to the wider public.
Working with GamCare and Local Authorities, we are running 25 dedicated information points across the country, which will help in this regard: the idea being that members of the public don’t have to go into gambling premises or on to gambling websites to find information about responsible gambling.