Chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) John Hagan speaks exclusively with Gambling Insider about the progress the UK gambling industry has made in recent years and what to expect from this year’s Responsible Gambling Week.
Responsible gambling is clearly something you devote a lot of time to, as Deputy Chairman of GamCare and Chairman of IGRG; why is it so important to you?
I love this industry but I recognise there are some people who have problems with their gambling. I’ve always had an interest in how operators look after those people.
GamCare is really at the sharp end of treatment, but it seems to me everybody who is a problem gambler is somebody who once thought they didn’t have a problem. So I was very interested in moves by the industry to come together and work on prevention rather than cure.
I’m keen to give back and I think it’s important for the long-term sustainability and success of this industry that it looks after its customers.
IGRG was established in 2014; do you think the gambling industry has made progress in responsible gambling since then?
I think enormous progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. In my day-to-day experience of advising operators, I’m seeing cultural change when it comes to safer gambling. I’m seeing more leadership from the top of companies promoting a culture of responsible gambling through their organisations, affecting day-to-day decisions made by executives.
Earlier this year the IGRG announced its whistle-to-whistle ban on TV gambling advertising during live sport. How much of an impact do you think this has had on problem gamblers so far?
We’re still assessing the impact the ban has had, but early review clearly shows fewer adverts are being shown across all pre-watershed sports programming.
There were concerns gambling advertising was normalising gambling on sport; it was being seen before the watershed by children and the volume of advertising was frankly irritating. The entire industry came together to respond to those concerns.
It acted decisively and significantly so young people and those affected by problem gambling can now watch sporting events without being bombarded by gambling advertising.
Gambling sponsorship in football has been in the spotlight a lot recently. Is this something the IGRG is concerned with?
The whistle-to-whistle ban addressed the main concern consumers had in regards to gambling advertising on television. Since the ban was implemented, attention has now turned toward other areas. The IGRG code for responsible gambling in advertising is always under review and those are areas we will be looking at in the future.
Moving on to Responsible Gambling Week, can you give us a summary of what the campaign will involve?
The Responsible Gambling Week will, as it has for the last two years, be about raising awareness of what it means to gamble responsibly. It will highlight the tools available and it will make everyone aware of where they can get help and support. It’s a week when the whole industry comes together.
GamCare will be partnering with the IGRG for the week, putting on events and working with us to provide resources on the website. This will be a hub of information and tools to help people understand how to gamble more safely and, for those affected by problem gambling, we will signpost them to sources of support.
Last year, we had great support from operators and companies working in the industry – for example, Jackpotjoy sponsored an advertising campaign at tube stations and Clarion funded an influencer campaign on social media – and it would be great to see similar initiatives this year.
What is it that makes the week so important?
Responsible gambling is promoted by operators all year round, it’s not a one week occurrence. But this is an opportunity for the whole industry to come together to really promote awareness of responsible gambling.
Sometimes there is a criticism the industry puts the onus on the player rather than on themselves. Responsible Gambling Week is about promoting safer gambling both on the part of operators and also on the part of consumers. This is very much about the industry having a conversation not just with its own customers but with wider stakeholders, friends and family of customers.
Last year was a big step up. It’s a much bigger conversation. This year is intended to be even bigger and better again; but we need the industry’s help to share the social media we will be producing, using the hashtag #RGWeek19, and to highlight our website to ensure the campaign reaches the widest possible audience.