While speaking at the 2022 International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) Conference in Melbourne, Rhodes touched on a range of subjects.
He spoke about everything from the pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis, safer gambling measures and emerging products. But Rhodes began by breaking down the situation in Britain, covering the impact of Covid-19.
The pandemic’s lingering effects continue to impact land-based gambling, he said, though the sector is on the road to recovery. Online gambling, meanwhile, has seen participation growth slow following a pandemic-era surge.
“Clearly online gambling grew rapidly during the pandemic when the land-based sector could not operate, or was heavily restricted,” he commented.
“Some tend to point to this as a sign that gambling participation has exploded – it has not.”
Overall, participation has stagnated, Rhodes said, though more women are gambling than before, while “new and novel products” will continue to enter the market.
Two big drivers are affecting consumer behaviour in Britain: the cost-of-living crisis and new safer gambling measures.
The former has prompted companies to rethink their staffing and operations, he stated, “even before we see much evidence of it affecting consumer gambling spend.”
New measures designed to protect customers have also impacted the make up of companies’ revenue, specifically what Rhodes called a “pivot” away from higher spending customers towards lower spending ones.
But ultimately, his message transcended Britain. These are major multinational companies and regulatory concerns in one country often indicate similar issues may be present elsewhere.
More M&A activity, alongside emerging technologies such as NFTs and cryptocurrency, posit new challenges for regulators.
With this in mind, Rhodes urged regulators to collaborate more, commenting: “We see greater collaboration amongst all of us, gambling regulators across the world, as the essential next step in tackling the challenges that the morphing of the gambling market into a global tech industry pose for all of us.
“As I’ve already said, we all want the same outcomes for our jurisdictions – operators who are compliant with our regulations and rules.
“In a world where many of us have the same companies, operating at the same scale, offering the same products, why can’t we share notes on how they are performing?”