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CSR shopping list
As the UK’s largest operators commit to doing more to make gambling safer, Laura da Silva of corporate social responsibility consultancy Silverfish CSR outlines what is needed for these promises to have an effect.
There are some basic ideas that you need to buy into if you intend to be a truly sustainable company. The first is that you must believe that it is possible to operate a business in a responsible way and that profits do not have to come from problem gamblers or high-spending customers.
Gaming could be just a form of entertainment, a bit of fun. And as an entertainment and (hopefully) creative business, you can find ways to grow responsibly. If you don’t believe that, or are not creative enough to find a way to make it happen, the following list is just not for you.
The second is that you must do more than simply comply with regulations, you must adopt your strategy from them. Operators shouldn't make it a race to the bottom by changing their values depending on local regulations. If one regulatory framework requires you not to send marketing emails to customers at the end of a self-exclusion period, shouldn't you consider getting ahead of the game and applying this globally?
You must also provide information in plain English – or in the local language – about your games. It shouldn’t be hard to understand them, and it shouldn’t be hard to understand how to play in a way that remains just a bit of fun. Responsible gaming info or tools, or whatever you may call it, shouldn’t be difficult to find or separated from the actual playing process.
What you should already be doing
Your igaming offering
- Put appropriate policies and procedures in place to identify individuals who may have a gambling problem and policies. This can range from self-exclusion, to the provision of blocking software, to time and spending limits.
- Conduct a risk assessment before launching a new game, and have a risk management system in place.
- Enter into a partnership with a gambling addiction treatment centre.
- Identify your stakeholders and understand the material issues that matter most to them. Break this down into a list of core priorities.
- Improve the work environment and work-life balance for staff, through flexitime, social benefits, exercise facilities and benefits such as health insurance.
- Set up an in-house training programme, including formal policies and procedures, as well as an evaluation and monitoring system to ensure a high level of awareness and understanding of problem gambling issues. Update this regularly to reflect industry developments.
- Review corporate governance to better understand what hinders women and minority groups from moving into the executive ranks - or into the industry in the first place. As the All-in Diversity Project notes, the gender balance in the industry’s executive ranks is skewed 78% in favour of men - tackle this.
- Consider using video conferencing to meet, rather than physically travelling to meetings. CSR isn’t just responsible gambling and gender equality; your company’s impact on the environment is equally important.
How to build on the basics
- Assess individual customer risk profiles when deciding on the type and frequency of marketing communications to send out.
- Promote products based on customers’ specific risk profiles, ensuring that you’re offering a safer and more entertaining gaming experience.
Cross-sector stakeholder collaboration
- Talk about what you do, and not just the successes. Share what works - and what doesn’t - with the wider industry, in terms of responsible gaming measures.
- Share your experiences, and make your responsible gaming tools accessible to smaller operators and players. It has been argued that larger operators can push for actions and controls that benefit their businesses, but are not viable for smaller competitors - address this.
- Know your affiliates, develop close relationships with them, and push them to be more responsible; even issue a certificate of due diligence as a stamp of approval to your best partners.
- Embed CSR commitments in the mission, values and decision-making processes of your business. For example, Kindred has said that it has a vision of “making gambling 100% enjoyable” with “zero revenue derived from harmful gambling by 2023”. Can you do better?
- Speak to your stakeholders, and look to reconcile all stakeholders’ interests in your decision-making. This way you can make responsible gaming controls and internal processes a key part of improving your product offering, for example.
- Have an open door policy; consult employees at all levels of the decision-making process.
- Encourage versatility; form multidisciplinary teams, and provide additional training to develop employees’ skillsets.
- Transparency is key; make information on salary ranges and criteria for promotions easily accessible.
- Incentivise responsibility; review remuneration processes to embed CSR into your business. For example, your sales or marketing team’s bonus could be based on encouraging customer loyalty, rather than customer spending.
- Commit to an external code or standard, or set of business principles, so you have a framework to measure progress on environmental, social and community issues.
- Communicate your non-financial progress, such as responsible gaming assessment and processes.
Laura Da Silva Gomes is the founder and director of Silverfish CSR Ltd, a company that specialises in Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility.