Rank chief calls for more funded research

Rank chief calls for more funded research

Friday, December 9, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
More to be done on responsible gambling says Birch

Henry Birch, chief executive of Rank, called on the gambling industry to step into the breach and do more to fund research into problem gambling issues as a conference organised by the Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RGT)/Gamble Aware.

The two-day Harm Minimisation event heard from a host of experts regarding the most recent studies and approaches taken towards problem gambling.

Rank itself helped to fund research published in the early summer from David Forrest and Ian McHale into tracked play on B1 gaming machines in casinos.

Speaking to TotallyGaming.com, Birch reiterated his comments to the conference that the industry had an “ethical obligation” to fund research into problem gambling to better understand and address issues of harm caused by problems with gambling.

“We funded the Forest/McHale research in order to better understand the issues,” he said. “We see customer behaviour better than anyone else.

“Engaging in research into harm can be unedifying, but it is the right thing to do from a business perspective. It makes sense to engage in research. The industry does involve harm, and that harm is not trivial.”

He added that the implication from the broadening scope of the recently announced Triennial Review meant the industry was under more pressure than before.

He also warned that critical of the industry, whether it was the politician or the press, should be wary of backing the industry into a corner over the issue of the funding of research into problem gambling. Specifically, he warned against critics suggested all industry-funded research was “tainted”.

“Researchers can’t study the industry without engaging with both its customers and the data,” he said. “Gambling research shouldn’t be a poison chalice. The only agenda should be to further shared understanding.”

He added that ultimately customers would be better served as well. “Much of the issue is about trust,” he added.

Taking questions from the floor, Birch also pointed out that it wasn’t always as straightforward as simply as handing across data. “We aren’t the only industry on the high street that would have problems with simply making data freely available.”

Totally Gaming says: The issue of industry funding of responsible gambling is one of the thorniest issues and as participants at the conference suggested too much research and data is dismissed as being tainted. There is a perception issue, but that shouldn’t stop the operators pushing more money into the funding of research. The debate over FOBTs has proved that a lack of data is a vacuum that will soon be filled.

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