Work together or risk reputation - RGA chief

Work together or risk reputation - RGA chief

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 Totally Gaming
Clive Hawkswood wants to see collective action where possible

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), believes the gambling industry must work together to protect its reputation or risk being negatively affected by the actions of rogue operators.

Hawkswood was speaking ahead of this year’s World Regulatory Briefing (WrB) session on ‘Responsible Gambling & Reputation Management’, which will take place at Altitude in London’s Millbank Tower on Thursday, September 10.

Hawkswood’s organisation represents most of the world’s largest licensed remote gambling operators and software providers including William Hill, Betfair, Playtech and PokerStars. However, while the RGA and many of its members overtly support responsible gambling and trade with integrity, Hawkswood is concerned that good work can be undone by corrupt operators.

“The industry is too diverse to have a single set of measures that are equally effective for every product and in every gambling environment,” he told TotallyGaming.com. “However, it is possible and preferable to adopt a collective approach wherever we can.

“For obvious reasons industries tend to be stronger when they stand together, but more importantly than that it is better for the consumer. Where we can collectively identify best practice then all customers should benefit from it.

“On the related issue of reputation management, it is the case that the media, politicians and public frequently view the gambling industry as a single vague entity and so what harms one part of it can harm all of it.

“That if nothing else is a good reason for a collective approach to be adopted, but nobody should be in any doubt about how hard that is to achieve.”

Since 2006, membership of the RGA has been dependent on adhering to high standards relating to social responsibility and age verification. In early 2012, the RGA adopted the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) agreement on social responsibility, which sets standards on social responsibility and produces a robust framework that addresses the key issues associated with problem and underage gambling.

Hawkswood believes that the industry is now seeing such commitments as an essential part of their operations rather than spin.

“Internationally the pace of change is variable, but as markets mature the fundamental importance of addressing these issues properly becomes increasingly apparent,” Hawkswood said.

“I think it’s fair to say that nowhere is this more apparent than in Britain. The approach then changes from responsible gambling and social responsibility being considered as something of a bolt-on to it being accepted as a central pillar of what the industry does.

“We are now at the stage, as we should be, where the industry is proactively seeking to improve what it does to minimise gambling related harm.”

Hawkswood is eager to open up the discussion about responsible gambling and reputation management at WrB, noting that progress will only be made through debate amongst all interested parties.

He said: “This is an area where we are all still learning and by ‘all’ I don’t just mean the industry but also academics, treatment providers, regulators and everyone else who is genuinely interested in us collectively doing more and doing better.

“To a large extent reputation management can only follow success with promoting responsible gambling and with genuine buy-in across the industry to the principle of consumer protection. So I will be very interested to hear people’s views on how that can best be achieved.

“I don’t think it is realistic to believe we could ensure a collective approach on all issues, but the different sectors have never worked more closely together than they are now, most notably on social responsibility.

“There is always more that unites us than divides us so we need to keep working on that basis and I’m sure progress will continue to be made.”

* WrB takes place in London on September 10. For more information visit www.wrbriefing.com

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