We’re one of the largest bookmakers in the UK – and there’s a responsibility that goes with that. We can, and we must, tackle harm from gambling.
This isn’t going to be a smooth ride. There will be bumps along the road. We will be criticised and some of that criticism will be fair. But we believe that it’s only by setting out with a bold ambition that we’ll start to see that change we want – and to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
We’ve been analysing our own data and working with experts to better understand the nature of that challenge. What’s striking is that harm from gambling is related to many other forms of harm.
Of those people who have experienced problems with gambling, three in five have suffered depression as a result and 61% have missed work to gamble. It also has a serious impact on friends and family – in one study, 20% of online divorce petitions cited gambling as a cause.
When you look at the data, you also see that people move in and out of problem gambling behaviours over time. It is, in effect, a spectrum of behaviour – and at any given time you may be at a different point on that spectrum. That’s why our response goes beyond those people who are specifically classed as problem gamblers to include a wider at-risk population.
And it doesn’t stop there. Today, no-one has defined what really good, in control, gambling behaviour looks like. As a company that provides both the products and the environment in which people gamble, we have a real opportunity to help any person who wants to gamble to do so in a positive way. So we’re going to work hard on how we design our products, how we advertise them and how we interact with customers in ways that help all our customers stay in control. There are, without a doubt, customers who should not be gambling, full stop. And we need to be there to help them. But I’d also like to see us get to a place where any customer is safer with us than they are elsewhere. These are the insights that inform our new strategy. There are also two convictions that inform it.
First, our colleagues are a crucial part of delivering on this ambition. I’ve seen how much the people in our business really care about our customers and want to play their part in keeping them safe. It’s crucial that each of us is empowered to act on that and to do what it takes to make a difference.
Second, there is no single solution. So our commitment is to listen to the many people devoting energy to this issue, to try new things and to share what we learn. That is the only way we’ll make the impact we want to.
Director of Strategy and Sustainability