THE GAMBLING industry has experienced a tumultuous few months in the news, with debate about the place of iGaming in society at an all-time high. In April, for example, the Premier League voluntarily agreed to withdraw gambling sponsorships from the front of shirts following public pressure.
The UK government is also actively seeking to implement further regulations, tackling both illegal gambling and high-stakes betting. MPs are increasingly debating the issues surrounding iGaming in parliament. The dangers of gambling addictions linked to ads on television and radio, for example, are under close examination.
The gambling industry, in turn, is attempting to change not only its public image, but how it can further integrate with positive impact initiatives and local communities. Leading companies are making significant strides in changing how they do business, increasing investment in a range of charitable projects.
Investing in Charitable Initiatives
iGaming is working with both the government and charities in an effort to protect consumers and contribute to charities around the country. In its latest annual report for 2022/23, for instance, GambleAware revealed that gambling companies donated a record-high £46.5 million. Household brands such as William Hill and bet365 ranked amongst the most generous donors.
In the last few years, online casinos in the UK have tripled donations to combat gambling harm, and the four biggest companies have further pledged to pay a total of 1% of their gambling yield to gambling prevention and treatment initiatives.
The investment in charities and wider issues goes beyond tackling problem gambling alone. William Hill, for example, supports Raising Futures, which is a Kenyan initiative to support young people in the country. It is also changing from within, switching to a renewable energy supplier, significantly reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
This drive towards increasing links with local communities and getting involved with charitable initiatives is not limited to the UK gambling sector, with an industry-wide effort to become a positive force in society.
For example, sustainable campaigns by SkyCity, an Auckland-based casino, have established links with local charities and community groups. SkyCity has awarded over 5000+ grants, with an overall value of $66.2 million.
The company is also the sponsor of the upcoming Step Up Challenge Sky Tower (6 August 2023), which partners with the country’s leukaemia and blood cancer charity to fundraise for research and patient support.
Socially Conscious Consumers
In recent years, consumers have become more aware of the source of their products and services. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a bit of a buzzword in industry circles, with consumers increasingly showing that they will spend more money with companies that take their impact on the environment, society, and culture seriously.
According to studies aggregated by Harvard Business School, 77% of consumers are at least in part motivated to purchase from companies that invest in making the world a better place. 25% of consumers have a zero-tolerance policy towards brands that have questionable ethical practices, whether their product or service is industry-leading or not.
This socially conscious approach also extends to investors, with 41% of millennials doing the legwork to understand a company’s CSR policies. Compared to Gen X and baby boomers (27% and 16%, respectively), we’re seeing a clear trend towards responsible investment practices.
Consumers are not only looking for companies that invest in charitable initiatives, but also for those that take a stand on important environmental, social, and political issues. In the United States, half of consumers believe this is a key consideration for companies.
Nike has been one of the leaders in this approach, employing Colin Kaepernick as one of their leading spokespeople, for example. Its 2019 ad featuring the NFL star even won a Creative Arts Emmy.
Casinos are very much aware of these industry trends, and understand that a simple approach of focusing on their core product is simply not possible in the present climate. As a result, the iGaming industry has been one of the leaders in implementing changes at a rapid pace, aware of its role in both the economy and wider society.
Response to Problem Gambling?
Some critics claim that the gambling industry is simply paying lip service, or that the industry should be severely restricted, or banned altogether. However, by examining this approach in the United States or Canada, for example, it’s clear that this approach is not prudent.
It is important for the UK government that gamblers do not turn to illegal companies based abroad, or sign up to online casinos that form part of an unregulated market. The authorities, together with the advice from leading charities, have the responsibility to implement measures to protect the interests of both the wider public and the individual player.
Gambling companies have clearly shown that they are willing to cooperate with charities, implementing advice from GambleAware and others. The industry also understands it needs to integrate with communities, investing in local initiatives and working together with individual charities.
With this in mind, the gambling industry, government, and charities like GambleAware, must cooperate to create sustainable and responsible market conditions. Considering the results thus far, there is no reason to doubt a positive future.