ICE Vox debates “regulation, regulation, regulation”

ICE Vox debates “regulation, regulation, regulation”

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

In the second of ICE Vox’s big brand keynotes Gavin Isaacs, Vice Chairman of the Board of Scientific Games, gave his views on the biggest issues affecting the gaming industry today. 

The session explored the introduction of greater regulation, the potential offered by a legalised sports betting market in the USA and responsible gambling. It was chaired by journalist Steve Hoare from Gambling Intelligence.

Opening the session, Hoare said one of the clearest messages he had heard during his time at ICE was “Regulation, regulation, regulation.”

An end to the “online free for all”

​Isaacs responded that regulations were previously the foundation of land-based gaming businesses, dependent upon each country’s unique language and culture: “Regulation was the way you build your business up. The fundamentals of the business were built around those regulations.”

He said greater government focus on increasing tax revenues and harm reduction would mark an end to the “online free for all.” Isaacs added that it would be up to online business to accept more regulation and predicted there would be more mergers as businesses adapted.

He said: “It’s a challenge – it’s a bit like Uber versus the taxis - but when you have to meet certain regulations, it’s a much harder ask.”

​Legalising sports betting in the US

The potential for creating a legalised sports betting market in the United States was another hot topic at ICE.  Isaacs added that sports betting was already taking place illegally and offshore in the USA with no taxation being paid: “The message is very clear: the world wants this. America wants this.”

With more than 20 states having legislation pending for the legalisation of sports betting, he predicted regulations would differ state by state and added that operators could include state lotteries or casinos.

“The lottery business is looking at the opportunities that are out there. Although more often than not they are public lotteries, they can position themselves, put their hands up and say ‘we can do this too.’” 

Responsible gambling

Responsible gambling was a topic of particular interest to the UK market, but Isaacs said the issue was not new. “Responsible gaming is something responsible companies take seriously,” he said.
He agreed that some gamblers were unable to play responsibly, but research had demonstrated that this only affected two per cent of the gambling population. He advocated that businesses which could demonstrate best practice in customer protection should advertise this fact.

“It’s very easy for welfare-orientated groups to say that ‘these people lost everything’ and therefore we should shut it down, but it does affect a lot of jobs and impact a lot of people,” he said.

“It’s a form of entertainment - most people can deal with it responsibly. We have to help the people who have issues with it, but it doesn’t mean we should kill it for everybody else.”

He said with issues such as responsible gaming, it was important for the industry to be able to speak with a strong voice through associations which could represent both big and small players.

“Every company has its own agenda,” he said, “But there are some agendas that are above all of us.”

Attracting millennials

How to attract millennials to land-based casinos was one of the questions from the floor. Isaacs said the average age of a gambler had stayed stable at 47-years-old over the last few years, as disposable income was required to gamble responsibly.

He said gaming would have to evolve to attract younger tastes, with casino games potentially sharing the floor with newer skills-based games. But he added: “It’s important that we don’t overact. Casino is still a great environment to socially meet and play. I don’t think it’s as drastic as people are making out.”

Watch our video interview with Gavin Isaacs: