Responsible Gambling treated as equal partner at global exhibition
International Gaming arrived in all its technicolour glory at the Excel Centre this week with headline acts Usain Bolt and David Hasselhoff mingling with delegates from around the world.
The ICE event provides a global meeting and marketplace for an industry that now more than ever is focusing on partnerships with organisations that offer education and treatment in the area of responsible gambling. Only a few years ago, a visitor would have needed to skirt the outer edges of the enormous exhibition halls to locate and engage with one of the organisations that work to reduce player harm and promote responsible play. No longer.
The Consumer Protection Zone was not a secret hidden away but a vibrant hub that for the three-days of ICE hosted talks and mini-events to share information and to strengthen and initiate relationships between regulators, charities and the gambling operators.
GamCare, YGAM and the Gordon Moody Association all work in this space and their efforts have never been so complementary and defined as now.
GamCare has since 1997 provided front-line counselling and helpline services for those in need of support and advice. YGAM (Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust) is the new kid on the block and grown rapidly in just a handful of years. The charity, which has begun working in racing through Racing to School, has as its mission the aim to address the absence of a strategy to engage and inform young people. Guidance on how to protect themselves from potential harms, and to foster open conversations between young people about the similarities of gaming and gambling is the focus of YGAM’s programmes.
Approaching its 50th year, but perhaps the lesser known charity is the Gordon Moody Association, which provides residential treatment programmes at two UK venues for a small number of people most affected by gambling issues; their Gambling Therapy Service is a vital online connection that offers unique help in many languages and on a global scale, with free practical advice and emotional support to anyone affected by problem gambling. A new App was launched by the charity in recent years.
Embedding the messages of responsible play and highlighting organisations that offer help may well have been a strategy that was slow out of the blocks. However, if the front-page quote from Usain Bolt in ICE’s daily newssheet, reminding attendees of the importance of responsible wagering is any barometer of change, then this can only indicate positive progress in supporting all players across all forms of betting.