Wrapping up the Sustainable Gambling Conference 2021

Fri, 08 Oct, 2021

The 6th edition of the Sustainable Gambling Conference took place on 5 October 2021. It was a huge success, attracting over 800 people who registered and attended. This year’s theme was ‘Safer gambling: a shared responsibility.’ Participants from inside and outside the industry recognised that in order to propel a purposive discussion and sustainable development, we need to account for varying perspectives. This year’s conference did just that.

Highlights from a conference filled with new perspectives and thought-provoking discussions

In accordance with previous years, the conference took a holistic approach to sustainability questions, mixing formats and perspectives. The industry, represented by leading Swedish operators, affiliates, as well as the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), set the tone for the day: profitability and the industry’s evolvement are directly linked to sustainability. Nurit Nobel, a researcher in Economic Psychology at Stockholm School of Economics, joined the conference to talk about the behavioural concept of ‘nudging’, and how removed frictions and positive reinforcement can be used to make the gambling industry safer. Janne Elvelid, Head of Public Policy Sweden & Finland Facebook, discussed how companies can deal with increased oversight and outside pressure, and how they can benefit from reassessing their impact on society.

Ryan Pitcher and Christopher Gilham, co-hosts of the gambling addiction podcast All Bets Are Off, moderated two separate discussions on how the industry can become more sustainable, focusing on several underpinning questions such as advertising, language use and payment solutions. Regulators from all over Europe gathered to discuss collaboration over borders and how to develop sustainable and effective policies that originate from consumers’ needs. During a number of different breakout sessions, we got a more hands-on taste of some of the ongoing initiatives within the industry, as well as recent progress from research and academia.

As Henrik Tjärnström, Kindred Group CEO wrapped up, it became clear that the theme of the day tellingly encapsulated a key area for the continued development of the gambling industry. In the intertwined nature of today’s market, being attentive to different perspectives and strengthening collaboration will be necessary to develop a sustainable customer journey, where all the different touchpoints a player encounters are coordinated to reinforce customer protection.

Some key takeaways

When some of the brightest minds inside and outside the industry connect to tackle difficult, important, and sometimes contentious questions, a lot of knowledge is shared. Here are some of the main takeaways from this year’s rendition of the Sustainable Gambling Conference:

Corresponding visions on where we want to go:

  • There is a broad consensus that the industry’s profitability, even its very existence, is contingent on becoming sustainable
  • Many stakeholders are committed to learning more about safer gambling and how the industry can work on becoming more sustainable
  • It remains imperative to eradicate the black market and make sure that players can have an enjoyable experience guarded by the government issued licenses’ supervision

Collaboration is key:

  • A closer dialogue between operators and regulators can help avoid counterproductive policies and improve channelisation
  • Transparency is essential for collaboration – whether it be among operators or between the industry and other prioritised stakeholders such as affiliates or regulators
  • Operators, regulators and affiliates all need to beware of their impact and align with each other to develop coherent practices and policies
  • There is a strong willingness to work together and share information to find the best practices, both between different stakeholders and over different markets
  • Lowering thresholds for dialogue between stakeholders inside and outside the industry can put operators in a better position to be part of the solution
  • Data sharing is key to sustainable interventions and stronger detection systems but comes with a number of obstacles related to data protection and privacy

Broadening our perspective:

  • With an increased focus on the behavioural components of gambling, nudging could be utilised to propel better habits and safer gambling environments
  • Learnings from Big tech underlines the importance of recognising that companies are more than mere commercial entities – they are also part of society and need to act accordingly
  • The financial ecosystem in which the gambling industry acts is complex, and can have spillover effects on other sectors, such as the media sector, but also on reinvested revenue that for instance helps finance elite clubs and their organisations

Some pointers as we look ahead:

  • As the industry moves towards a more evidence-based approach, methods and data collection need to become more reliable
  • Improving player protection builds on a number of interlinked factors, spanning from a well-adapted regulatory framework and operators’ commitment to taking responsibility to use less stigmatising language and more mindful advertising
  • Standardising KPIs and definitions, as well as setting common goals are crucial for the development of sustainable practices
  • Improving the industry’s reputation is an integral part of combating misconceptions and promoting a more constructive dialogue

The journey has only just begun

There is no doubt that a lot has happened since the first Sustainable Gambling Conference was hosted six years ago. We are happy to say that the SGC 2021 has made us even more equipped to continue working on becoming more sustainable. As we look forward, we hope to build on this momentum and, furthermore, add more actions and tangible results.