21 March, 2022

The profitability of mental health in iGaming

A pragmatic argument, regular Gambling Insider columnist Alex Czajkowski discusses why there is not just a human case for responsible gambling – but a business one.

Responsible gaming is good for the long-term profitability of an operator.

It was Sarah Francis who turned me on to this years ago at a board meeting for Sportingbet.

It won’t help you make this quarter’s numbers, but long term, it’s better for everyone. Especially your shareholders. And your players. Not to mention your karma.

But while regulators look to ineffectively manage the symptoms of “problem gambling,” setting bet limits, eliminating jackpots and VIP programmes, blocking credit cards etc, they fail to address the true underlying issues.

“Mental health” has been a lukewarm topic of late, with celebs from Ryan Reynolds to Kanye West and even the British royals (short lived as we hope their influence may be… long live the Queen? Done.) piping up about it.

Perhaps ironically, it’s only when you really think about mental health’s impact on employees and those that buy your pints (players!) that it becomes a priority.

And in this post-Covid decade and the havoc that Wuhan-born virus wreaked, it’ll become an increasing influence. The isolation of quarantines (I’ve been through four). The impact of social media. The numbing experience of working from home 8-12-16 hours a day. It has consequences, kids!

At a minimum, one in six of us are going crazy...

Even in writing that I can feel the stigma associated with it. ‘Cause it’s hard for “normal” brains to process what it is to not be “normal,” as it is outside the realm of the “normal” experience.

You frankly have no idea. Unless you’ve been there. Ask Ryan. Or maybe Kanye.

But you have to prepare for it, for both employees and players. It’s responsible gaming and responsible stewardship of your firm.

While I’ve been thinking about this for a while, it was my discussions with mental health/AI expert Zain Sikafiof of Mynurva.com that really got me thinking about it.

While reviewing his investment deck, it occurred to me how much we could do for “free” (e.g. a one time investment in content that pays dividends in both traffic and karma) plus profit from helping people who pass through the filters of the sales funnel and end up spending cash with consultants.

And profits are important, of course; they pay for the front-end processes that could help thousands of players and employees, and provide the ROI that ensures continued investment.

He cites the UK studies that say “50% of ill-health in the UK is due to mental health.” And that’s from an eight-year-old study (new ones are underway). These numbers will sadly only go up as more people appreciate the impact your brain has on your body.

As in any sales process, it begins with “awareness” (the other phases being comprehension, conviction and closing the sale, ACCC, or in the age-old model of AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action).

These are your people. Your players.

And while it’s not our responsibility, technically, to care for their minds, it is in our own best interests. We can do more for both. And our care will be rewarded in innumerable ways, including long- term profitability.