It has been an eventful year for Kindred across almost all of our markets. We have taken our first steps into the USA, opening the door to what can potentially become the largest betting market in the world, and Sweden has finally adopted a licence model. Europe has been a pioneer in using the internet for the past two decades to give customers a form of entertainment previously only available in physical locations. Kindred has been part of shaping this transition in Europe and we are now setting our feet firmly on US soil, giving customers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania the same experience as the sports fans of Europe and Australia.
Putting the customer first in a regulated digital world
We have seen regulatory pressure in Europe increase throughout 2019, partly fuelled by the stigma around gambling as an industry. This is challenging the industry to adapt to a new market reality in terms of marketing, community involvement and actively addressing industry specific issues. Kindred has always been a front runner in this area, and we intend to keep hold of the baton in the race for sustainable growth. As mentioned in last year’s sustainability report we have built our business on continually finding new ways forward, challenging the status quo, and we are determined to continue to transform ourselves and the industry for this new reality. In 2019, we derived 59 per cent of our revenue from locally regulated markets and expect this ratio to increase, a clear indication that we want to contribute to our communities in every way possible. However, to ensure local regulation works in a digital world the share of customers choosing locally regulated operators, also called the level of channelisation, must be the ultimate objective in each market. If this is not achieved, the system will fail.
Setting clear ambitions for a better future
Last year we set out several ambitions to make gambling enjoyable for everyone and to be more inclusive in our communities. Some of these ambitions are more aspiring than others, but we must push ourselves out of our comfort zone if we are to reach our targets. We are under no illusion that it will be easy to achieve our ambitions, but with the right mindset and our motivated team, we believe we can get there.
One of the most important ambitions we have set is to receive zero revenue from harmful gambling by 2023. I have heard people say that this is not possible; that we cannot possibly know if a customer has a problem when he or she opens an ccount with us. We need to monitor a customer’s behaviour to determine if there are signs of harmful gambling, which is why we continuously invest in improving our behavioural monitoring system, the Player Safety – Early Detection System (PS-EDS), and in further educating our skilled player sustainability team. However, this is not enough. For us to eliminate harmful gambling we also need to share knowledge and learnings within the industry and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders in society. We put a lot of effort into the Sustainable Gambling Conference for this reason, and engage in discussions with researchers, authorities and regulators across all markets.
Focusing on technology for good
All these efforts are relevant and necessary. However, I firmly believe that the biggest opportunity in reaching our ambition lies within the massive technology revolution happening as we speak. By 2023, I am convinced that the use of artificial intelligence, computing capacity, access to data and the introduction of 5G infrastructure across the world will push harmful gambling, money-laundering, fraud, match-fixing and other destructive behaviours off of digital gambling platforms. This is one reason why we are participating in an innovative AI research project together with City, University of London and BetBuddy.
Partnering with our communities
Another of our ambitions is to be part of building a better future for our communities. With a greater portion of our revenue coming from locally regulated markets our tax contribution is increasing every year, as is our investment into sports and other community initiatives, which is not possible in markets lacking a licence system. For every pound sterling in proposed dividend to shareholders, Kindred generated GBP 5.7 in tax paid (betting duties, VAT, employment tax and corporate tax) to governments and GBP 0.8 in sponsorships to sports. We have launched exciting new projects with organisations such as Swedish Elite Football and the European Football for Development Network, which you can read more about on pages 27 and 43. Our effort on collaboration with peers and stakeholders continued with the Sustainable Gambling Conference in Copenhagen. We want to make this forum active throughout the year to facilitate ongoing dialogue, and this will be a focus area for 2020.
I am particularly pleased that this year we spent time on how we, as an organisation, contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, mapping our sustainability framework against the goals to determine which goals and indicators we can truly embrace and achieve against. You can read more about how we contribute to the SDGs on page 8.
Improvement comes from the whole Kindred team
Ensuring that Kindred achieves what we have set out in our sustainability strategy – ensuring that gambling remains joyful for everyone – is down to all who work within the Group. Sure, it starts with me as CEO but achieving our goals is equally relevant for every team member across each of our offices and markets. This drive must be an integrated part of our operations and culture, and for this reason we have, as of 2020, included a sustainability element in employee bonuses. This has previouslybeen part of the Executive Team bonus structure but is now implemented for all employees who are eligible for a bonus.
Gambling is a form of entertainment in our society. It always has been and always will be. A customer who enjoys gambling and stays in control, and an industry which plays a fundamental part in developing communities through active engagement, is good for everyone. That is why a sustainable business is a good business and a valuable part of the communities in which we operate.
Henrik Tjärnström, CEO
Malta, 6 March 2020