Just over a year ago we articulated a new set of corporate values, and two really captured my imagination: ‘give a damn’ and ‘leave a legacy’.

I think that with our Nobody Harmed ambition – and this crowdsourcing event – we are living up to those values, by facing into the challenge of gambling-related harmand identifying what needs to change.

I hosted the afternoon’s event and when I stood up on stage to welcome everyone to the room I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect - and this degree of openness is unusual in our industry, maybe even in business at large. That’s why I was delighted by the energy and the real support for meaningful collaboration during and beyond this event.

There were five big themes that stood out.

  1. Data is a huge asset
    We heard time and again how smart collection and use of data can influence safer gambling behaviours: handing data back to customers so they can understand their actions; spotting risky patterns of behaviour in real-time to intervene; and also the joining up of data across different companies to ensure we can respond to the full picture. Long-term progress is going to rest on better, more real-time, more comprehensive data.
  2. Relationships matter
    But we also heard a very different story too: that relationships and trust are crucial. When people do start to experience problems they’re often in a ‘hot state’, so building relationships and understanding of that person’s situation in advance can make interventions more effective and support more impactful. This puts shop colleagues in a really important position but also raises the stakes on really strong customer relationships online.
  3. Near-term, quick wins can make a difference
    When Nicola, our Director of Retail, came back to William Hill after the event, she tasked her team with taking some quick action, such as using the business’s creative firepower to make responsible gambling messaging more impactful in shops. And through our Responsible Gambling Fund, which will launches in 2019, we’ll be able to seed-fund pilot activity - we hope alongside some of the people in the room at this event.
  4. System-wide efforts are vital
    Some of the big ideas that came through can’t be put into action quickly or by one entity alone. Since the event, the big gambling operators have come together behind a voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising in football matches. And some of the other big ideas require meaningful partnerships between operators, local government and frontline organisations. The organisations that we had in the room are the system needed to tackle this challenge.
  5. Sustainable change requires reshaping the UK’s culture around gambling
    The pre-event survey showed it, and we heard it a number of times from experts in the room: one of the biggest barriers to tackling gambling-related harm is that it is a hidden problem, often stigmatised. That means tackling it requires an opening-up of how we view gambling and how we talk about it in society. There are green shoots, and elements of popular culture from TV shows to The Archers have recently featured storylines on the subject. But more needs to be done, and we want to be a part of that.

It was July when we set out the ambition that nobody is harmed by gambling. We can’t do this alone but this event showed just how many people are prepared to work together in that common cause. We won’t always make progress as fast as we’d like, or you would like. But as an organisation it’s our commitment to be open and transparent on this journey, and we’re counting on all of you to keep our feet to the fire."

Ruth Prior
CFO, William Hill