For the seventh consecutive year, Kindred will host the Sustainable Gambling Conference (link https://www.sustainablegambling.com/) (SGC). The conference will take place in Amsterdam on 19 October and will be a hybrid event where the first part of the conference will be streamed live.
Kindred Group has hosted the Sustainable Gambling Conference since 2016 with a simple idea; let's connect the brightest minds across the industry to discuss how we can work together to secure a sustainable gambling industry.
To understand more about this year's conference, 'Safer Gambling: An Honest Conversation,' we spoke to Kindred's Head of Sustainability, Anna Jein, and Maris Catania, Head of Resposible Gaming and Research.
Anna, thank you for taking the time and chat with us. What lies within this year's theme Safer Gambling: An Honest Conversation?
This year's theme is an extension of last year's conference, where we focused on our shared responsibility to ensure a safer gambling industry. This year we will focus even more on hosting open conversations on the tough subjects, and we have increased the focus on dialogue and discussions, with table discussions on topics such as single-customer view and sportsbook integrity.
Kindred will host SGC for the seventh year in a row; what has been the outcome of the previous conferences?
Over the years, the SGC has developed into a well-known annual event in the industry, where many stakeholders come together. Since the first year, we have seen an increased openness from participants and speakers, and we are delighted to see a general increase in transparency from the industry regarding topics such as responsible gambling. The conference was set out to connect people across the industry and to enable open and honest conversations, which ultimately leads to higher collaboration to ensure a more sustainable industry.
Maris, from your perspective – what benefits can you see from hosting the Sustainable Gambling Conference?
I think one of the major benefits of hosting this Sustainable Gambling Conference is that we get to speak to several experts on Sustainability and consumer protection. Speaking to leading authors like Johann Hari or gambling research experts like Professor Mark Griffiths and Jonathan Parke is difficult. Having these experts in one place makes it easier to create a venue for an honest conversation, which is the central theme of this conference.
Have you ever had speakers say no to being a part of a panel, if yes, why, and if no, what are the reactions when they are being asked to participate?
So far, we have been very lucky always to have speakers accepted to be part of our panels. Over the years, we have gained a level of trust, and speakers know they can speak their minds. As a speaker in some events myself, I am able to be honest is the only concern I would have.
Maris, what are the reactions from other operators in the industry when it comes to SGC?
We had started the SGC, which we initially called the Responsible Gambling Conference, because I was being approached by several responsible gambling managers that did not have the opportunity to attend such conferences. These can be quite expensive sometimes, sometimes narrow in concept or repeated discussions. The ideology behind SGC is to get experts in one room that might not otherwise be in the same room.
Anna, have you seen a change in other operators' attitudes regarding working with Sustainability?
Over the last years, we have seen many operators working seriously with Sustainability and ensuring a safe customer experience. As a result, more and more operators realise why it is imperative to have Sustainability at the heart of your business model and how it will futureproof your operations. Of course, there are still many areas to improve, but I am happy to see positive development in the industry.
And here is a question for both of you - within the area of Sustainability, you can attach a lot – but what does Sustainability mean to you?
Maris: Responsible gambling is my main area of work and research, so responsible gambling will always be the central focal point of the SGC. For me, Sustainability is approaching responsible gambling at the earliest possible intervention to help consumers regulate their gambling or help them refrain from other gambling which may cause harm or unsustainable play. I find this very important not only for the gambler but also for the people around the gambler.
Anna: For me, Sustainability is about futureproofing your operations, and it is about delivering shared value for our customers, employees, shareholders, and the communities around us. By building healthy, long-lasting customer relationships and positively contributing to our communities, we have a clear competitive advantage. Driving a sustainable business means improving this advantage and acting responsibly to safeguard our ability to do good business tomorrow.
Maris, what do you look forward to the most at this year's conference?
In the last two years, the SGC became an online event, so I am looking forward to the fact that this will be a physical event. I am humbled to hear Johann Hari in person since I love his books.
Anna, the same question for you.
Like Maris, I am excited to meet people face to face again finally. It will be a challenge to deliver a hybrid event for the first time, but I am very pleased that we can cater to people who can travel and those who cannot physically join us on the day. I am excited for the table discussions in the afternoon, this year, we are really stepping up on the engagement, and I look forward to hearing what output this can give us to work on collectively after the event.
One last question to both of you: If SGC wouldn't exist – do you believe that the industry would be on another level when it comes to working with Sustainability?
Maris: I think the SGC is a great initiative, but Sustainability goes a long way. I know that some collaborations and discussions started during previous SGC’s but talking about this topic is not enough to make the main difference. So, although collaboration is key, taking on and doing the action is the main part.
Anna: I think the SGC is a really important platform to bring together a broad range of stakeholders and get varied input on some of the most important topics we have to tackle. But equally to Maris, I think that the most important thing is what happens between these meetings – do we bring the ideas and input back into our daily work and continue to invest in new solutions that will bring us to a better and more sustainable industry?