Jo Abergel has advocated passionately about the ethical responsibility of the gambling industry towards its customers. This inspired her to co-found the Ethical Gambling Forum in 2022. As part of the Casino Guru Awards team of judges, Jo is taking a hard look at some of the areas that concern consumer protection that need to be improved on an industry level. She talks the ethics of the gambling industry and what needs to be done without hesitance and delay.
Q: Jo, we feel you are the most competent person to answer this question today – is the gambling industry ethical and what would ethics in the gambling industry entail?
That is a big question! The gambling industry is always going to face resistance from those who believe gambling of any sort should never be encouraged, so the whole sector is already starting from a detrimental position. However, there are steps that operators can take to conduct their business in a more ethical manner, such as stronger AML procedures and checks, better player protection and colleague wellbeing programs and ensuring ESG matters are prioritized.
Q: How do you feel the Ethical Gambling Forum will help address some of the ethical problems that the industry faces today?
We aim to get some of these challenging, ethical conversations started. By encouraging collaboration between operators on some of the dilemmas that the industry faces, we strive to promote best practice and encourage stronger relationships between operators, regulators, researchers, and suppliers. We all have a responsibility and a vested interest to improve the reputation of both the industry and of our jurisdictions. The Ethical Gambling Forum ("EGF") provides the framework and facilitated networking opportunities for this to happen.
Q: Do you believe that we should work more on changing how leadership in gambling sees the industry and the responsibility it has towards its customers, or do you feel this process has already begun?
Unfortunately, I think there is still a widespread disconnect in this area. During last year’s EGF, we hosted a panel on Profit vs. Player Protection, and it is clearly a major challenge. For example, I attended a gambling conference recently in Europe and the Player Protection zone was in the furthest corner away from the main stage. I know this is already an improvement - there never used to be any such "zones" in the main conferences, but the main stage talks and keynotes I attended didn’t even mention any of the ethical issues faced by the sector.
All the ESG and Player Protection talks were on a minor stage, tucked away from everything else and only attracted small audiences in comparison to the other stages. I do believe leadership needs to take more responsibility towards its customers and its staff, and this is happening very slowly. I think it will come as regulation increases and Directors are legally required to demonstrate ESG in action.
Q: As part of the Casino Guru Awards team of judges, what would you be interested to see in an applicant that is looking to win?
I would want to know about the impact their projects are having, how they are measuring success, future strategy, and what type of buy-in they have from their C-Suite/Board.
Q:Do you have other projects in the pipework that you want to share with us?
Next year’s EGF is scheduled for 26/27 April in Gibraltar, and we’d love to see increased attendance from those passionate about ESG and the gambling industry. Our theme will be "ESG: What could possibly go wrong?" and we will again be highlighting the business case for greater innovation and responsibility in this area. Other projects include regular meetups on the various strands of ESG, e.g., AML & Risk Meetups, a Diversity & Inclusion Conference in June 2023 and our ongoing work with leadership development programs for the gambling industry and other sectors.
Image credit: Casino Guru News