Amanda Kiernan, who works as MERKUR UK’s Head of Compliance and also serves as Vice Chair of Bacta’s Social Responsibility Committee, believes that when it comes to safer gambling you can never say ‘job done’. Here, she answers some questions on why.
Coinslot: What unique perspective do you feel you bring to your role on the Committee?
Amanda Kiernan, MERKUR UK: Professionally my expertise lies in Compliance which is an important component of the social responsibility debate, so my background provides sound and solid foundations for my role on the Bacta SR Committee.
I’m slightly hesitant to describe myself as having a ‘unique perspective’ but certainly the work undertaken by MERKUR UK in respect to the launch of its 360 Program has provided a powerful insight into the real issues that underpin the safer gambling narrative.
360 was launched in October 2021 and in its’ first year has succeeded in making important advances implementing a range of key initiatives.
By linking-up with safer gambling charities YGAM and Betknowmore 360 has been able to deliver really significant and powerful training programmes first to Area Managers and Bingo General Managers and then extended to all 200+ of our Venue Managers.
We’ve also launched dedicated Customer Experience Groups which consist of independently preselected customers who talked openly about how what techniques they use to manage spend, the role of the venue teams in terms of how and when to intervene, as well as their outlook and motivations as machine players.
The Customer Experience Group programme runs throughout the year covering different parts of the country enabling us to track attitudes and identify trends.
One of the great things about the work of 360 is that it has made the transition from theory to the everyday experience of players and customer- facing staff.
When MERKUR UK launched 360 the commitment was to share insight with the rest of the industry and one of the best ways to achieve that is via Bacta’s SR Committee.
Coinslot: How do we ensure that social responsibility isn’t just something the industry talks about as a form of positive PR?
Amanda Kiernan: Social responsibility/ safer gambling is an issue that sits at the very heart of what we do as an industry.
In so many ways our success in being able to deliver a consistent safe gambling experience to our customers dictates how we will be judged by our regulator, by government, by the media and by society as a whole.
I would argue that positive PR is a by-product of having the safer gambling philosophy running through the DNA of the industry all underpinned by robust and consistent protocols and processes.
I am certain that the overwhelming majority of Bacta members recognise the central importance of SR in everything that we do on a daily basis.
Coinslot: How can we measure how effective the work of the Committee is?
Amanda Kiernan: The appointment of Russell Edge as Membership, Social Responsibility and Compliance Manager demonstrates the importance that Bacta attaches to SR and I think the higher profile the Committee can generate the more effective we will be as an industry.
Fundamentally our objective is to share best practice courtesy of events such as the recent SR Exchange and to support and reflect the fantastic work being that’s being undertaken every day by our members.
It’s always useful to be able to apply some metrics or KPIs to a task but SR represents a continuum of activities and it is never a case of being able to say ‘job done’. SR really is a journey without a final destination.