The Kindred name became quite popular in the responsible gambling world last week as it was was the main sponsor for the GambleAware conference. Of course, I had the occasional person asking "but who is Kindred? Doesn’t sound like a betting company", and when I replied that it is our new Group name, the answers ranged from "of course you would be the main sponsor for a responsible gambling conference" to "you guys always make the other operators look bad with your responsible gambling initiatives". Although perhaps my favourite reaction was "words have meaning and names have power".
GambleAware, formerly known as the Responsible Gambling Trust, is the leading UK charity that helps minimise gambling-related harm. It is an independent national charity and it is funded through donations given by the gambling industry. GambleAware funds education, prevention, and treatment. The donation system which is applied to this charity is prescribed by the Gambling Commission in its license conditions and codes of practice. How the funding is spent is guided by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) and endorsed by the Gambling Commission.
One of GambleAware’s most high profile projects is the Harm Minimisation Conference. There were a few influential people including Dutch regulatory members, and also researchers from Stockholm.
The conference started with a keynote speech from the Minister for Sport, Tourism, and Heritage, Tracey Crouch and this was followed by several different speeches from international experts focusing on the definition of gambling-related harm, who is vulnerable to gambling-related harm and what should we do as a response to this. In the evening, a dinner was also organised with an amazing guest speaker John Hartson (football fans might know him, but I had no idea who I was sitting next to until I was introduced). John Hartson is a former international professional football player who played for West Ham, Arsenal and Celtic.
He is currently a pundit on television and BBC Radio Five Live. What was impressive about John was that he spoke openly about the struggle he had with gambling addiction. Although he mentioned that he was earning around 25K per week, he was losing 99% of this money in the betting shops. He mentioned how although he had no immediate financial problems since he was getting an amazing salary, he was losing other things in life such as his family, friends and all other meaningful relationships that he had. His speech captivated the audience and is something worth listening to if given the chance.
The second day of the conference ran more on the topics on how to help people with gambling-related problems, what treatment is found in Britain, present research on harm minimisation and future research on the topic, with some involving innovative research methods such as eye-tracking devices.
Being part of such a conference helps us stand out. We engage with responsible gambling initiatives because we care and it is at the top of our agenda. It is quite reassuring that Kindred is getting a great reputation in this area. We must remember that every single one of us makes up Kindred, and in Liv Biesemans’s words, "we are all compliance ambassadors", but I would like to even extend that we are brand ambassadors; a brand that stands out in its stance on integrity, trust and player safety.