Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Can the online gambling industry continue to grow profits whilst protecting players?

I’ve now completed my interviews with senior stakeholders this summer and the report is now available to view at Cass Business School’s website. First I’d like to thank the participants for taking part in this phase of my research. I interviewed representatives from the commercial sector, including Tim Phillips, Betfair’s Director of European Public Affairs, Clive Hawkwood, CEO at the Remote Gambling Association and Jean Moreau Jørgensen who is the Executive Director at the World Lotteries Association. It was very interesting talking to the commercial sector to understand both the initiatives operators are undertaking to progress the responsible gaming agenda and also to learn more about the challenges they face.

From academia I had the pleasure of talking to Professor Alex Blaszczynski from the University of Sydney, Dr Jonathan Parke from Salford University and Professor Roger Steare from Cass Business School. I found the academics were very open and balanced in their points of view, in terms of cautioning against jumping to generalisations about any links between internet gambling and problem gambling however also challenging the operators to do more where they can.

I also had very interesting conversations with the Andy McLellan, CEO of GamCare and Tex Rees who is eCOGRA’s Fair Gaming Advocate and John Carr OBE, Secretary of the UK Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. It was encouraging to see how the commercial sector is collaborating and supporting organisations such as GamCare and eCOGRA to help deliver a fair and safe gaming environment and also to help support vulnerable gamblers. I also interviewed Christel Schaldemose MEP, who has been actively involved in driving the political debate around consumer protection in the European Parliament and who authored last year’s report on the integrity of online gaming.

It was very enlightening talking to such a diverse and expert range of stakeholders and I learned a lot from the experience. As you could imagine, such a diverse range of people did at times take differing viewpoints on some issues. However whilst people had differing views on the best approaches, what was clear to me was that everyone was focused on trying to build a sustainable online gambling industry. I hope you enjoy the paper!