EiG: Gaming industry urged not to be ‘shrinking violets’

EiG: Gaming industry urged not to be ‘shrinking violets’

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 Totally Gaming
William Hill Chairman tells EiG that sector needs to highlight its benefits

The gaming industry can work towards protecting its reputation by amplifying its benefits to society, according to William Hill Chairman Gareth Davis.

Speaking in an EiG 2015 ‘Outside-In’ session entitled ‘Improving industry reputation’, Davis, who worked at Imperial Tobacco Plc for 38 years, urged attendees not to be “shrinking violets” when it comes to debating the positives and negatives of the industry.

“In comparison with other industries, this industry has got a lot of things right, and we haven’t denied that there can be problems with gambling,” he said today (Tuesday) at Arena Berlin.

“You can afford to be vociferous about the positives of your industry, especially as a ‘no comment’ can often lead to reputational damage.

“The best way forward for our industry is to stay ahead of the game. If anything we should welcome the greater scrutiny and emphasise the positive impact we have in communities in areas such as tax generation, employment and above all pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction for consumers.”

Davis insisted that being prepared to “speak openly to all audiences about your industry” was one of three key lessons learnt from his time in the tobacco industry.

He added that relationships with regulators must be carefully nurtured.

“Another lesson is that regulatory challenge rarely works,” he said. “You are a super-optimist if you lodge a legal challenge to a government, and attempting to overturn legislation usually results in expensive failure.

“Leading on from this, the final lesson is that it is far better to work with governments and regulators than against them.

“All industries need to work hard to ensure decisions and regulations are proportionate and evidence-based, and governments and regulators react and behave far more positively to industries that acknowledge there are serious issues with their industry.”

Davis also hailed the impact of the Senet Group, an independent body set up in the UK to promote responsible gambling standards and ensure that the marketing of gambling is socially responsible.

“The UK has been leading the way in many regards,” he said. “At William Hill, for example, we now use algorithms to identify possible problem gambling, but then the company has a long history of embracing change.

“However, the Senet Group should be widely welcomed by everyone. It will be the clear voice of the industry in a political sense. I look forward to seeing its membership grow as its impact increases.”

For the latest from EiG 2015, click here to check out our live blog.

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