The expansion of the betting and gaming industry internationally has accelerated rapidly in recent years, attracting the attention of those with concerns about the potential harmful side-effects of gambling.
This fast-paced growth and the increased threat of gambling related harm requires responsibility and action from a variety of actors in the wider betting ecosystem, according to a panel of industry experts speaking at last month’s Betting on Sports Europe event.
Participating in the discussion, John Millington, Senior Vice President US Operations at EPIC Risk Management, Steve Emberson, Genius Sports’ Integrity Manager and Tyrone Allen, Director of the PAF, NFL Players Association (NFL PA), shared their views on the future of betting industry responsibility.
“Sometimes there’s a challenge to put the blame on one group – the operators, the gamblers themselves for taking responsibility for it – what we are trying to push for is that there are a number of actors in that ecosystem,” Millington explained.
“EPIC are one of those, Geniuses are one of those, the NFL Player’s Association are one of those. Operators in the industry, teams, regulators, the media – they all play a role in this, and for us it’s about understanding what responsibility each of those actors has and how they can contribute to harm prevention as a group and a collective.”
For Emberson, meanwhile, it is vital for cross-industry actors to develop an understanding as to how a safe ecosystem can function, particularly with regards to the relationship between sports and betting, and increasingly esports and wagering also.
He continued: “Obviously in the UK it’s under fire across marketing and the relationship between sponsorship and sport. I don’t ever think there is a need for it to be completely outlawed, but measures need to be taken to make sure that the right protections are in place and that the marketing and sponsorship that does happen happens in a responsible way.”
Pointing to the now notorious Sky Bet error, in which a marketing email was accidentally sent to a number of self-excluded customers of the operator, Emberson emphasised that it is important to ‘drive understanding’ concerning public perception of gambling sponsorships – as Sky Bet serves as a sponsor of the English Football League (EFL).
Meanwhile, for Allen – who appeared via videolink from the US to give perspective on the issues from a North American lens – a ‘holistic approach’ is necessary to prevent and treat gambling addiction.
“It’s not that much different from someone who is recovering from substance misuse or some sort of depression or anxiety. I think you do need that holistic approach, you’re going to need programmes and resources.
“We have the in-patient facilities for those with behavioural and mental health issues – we may need something like that here in regards to gambling addiction, because it is serious.”
Emberson found common ground with his American co-host on this issue, directing the conversation towards his own experience with England’s FA, where he often dealt with former players who encountered gambling addiction following the conclusion of their careers as they sought to replicate the competitive element and ‘natural high’ of playing professionally.
“When these players finish, and we talked about this is with a lot of ex-pros when I was at the FA, they still try and recreate that natural high that they can only get from playing the game.
“That’s something else that needs to be managed and monitored constantly, and no amount of education is going to stop that. Hopefully the constant repetition and constant talking about this topic will mean players of a certain age will understand it more.”
Moving forward, however, Emberson observed that momentum on issues such as gambling addiction and associated mental health risks will continue, noting that attitudes to such topics have progressed in the workplace over the past 10 to 15 years.
To watch the full panel, click HERE