Fair Play… GVC Holdings outlines year of wholesale CSR change

Virginia McDowell – GVC Holdings

FTSE100 gambling group GVC Holdings has this morning published its 2019 ‘Fair Play – Corporate Social Responsibility Report’ outlining the multiple changes governing the company’s long-term corporate sustainability objectives.

In the report’s forward statement, GVC Independent Non-Executive Director Virginia McDowell acknowledges the new responsibilities demands placed on the company which now operates global gaming’s largest online gambling portfolio, employing 25,000 staff worldwide.

“GVC’s growth has brought with it a commensurate expansion in the expectations around how we manage our responsibilities towards society, particularly as they relate to safer gambling,” said McDowell.

“And let me be clear from the outset: Our ambition is to be the safest and most trusted operator in the world.”

As a corporate advisor, McDowell has been charged with leading GVC’s ‘dedicated CSR Committee’ – a governance-level unit which has reviewed all corporate policies ‘covering regulatory compliance, AML, responsible gaming, health and safety, environmental impact, data protection and diversity in the workplace’.

Furthermore, as a governance function, the CSR Committee will offer guidance to GVC leaders and stakeholders on social responsibility strategies, oversight, planning and coordination.

“Sitting below the Board CSR Committee, the CSR Steering Group consists of functional leaders from across the business, including Investor Relations, HR, Legal, Health, Safety and Security, Operations and Communications,” explained the GVC report.

“Convened by our Head of CSR, the Group oversees implementation of the CSR strategy, coordinating delivery across all operating units and central function.”

Moving forward, an enlarged GVC Holdings will operate under the mandate of its ‘Fair Play – CSR strategy’ which sets out ‘priorities and activities across the areas where GVC has an impact on society’.

GVC states that its new CSR strategy has been developed with ‘a deep understanding of where the industry is heading’, which will see GVC operate an ‘emerging framework’, promoting social responsibility practices across GVC’s current operational and stakeholder value chains.

Treating CSR as a corporate discipline, GVC has appointed Grainne Hurst as the FTSE firm’s first Director of Responsible Gambling, supported by former group communications lead Jay Dossetter as Head of CSR.

2018 saw GVC launch its ‘Changing for the Bettor’ campaign, setting out the FTSE firm’s ‘seven pillars’ for promoting safe play, fair gambling and better standards.

Grainne Hurst – GVC Holdings

The ‘Changing for the Bettor’ campaign has further seen GVC form strategic collaborations with gambling harm minimisation consultancy EPIC Risk Management (EPIC), in addition to supporting the Harvard Medical School’s ‘Division on Addiction with a $5 million research funding on addiction behaviours, triggers and analyses.

“We were very clear when we launched our strategy that it should not remain a static document, but instead would be constantly evolving and adapting as new opportunities and challenges occur,” said Grainne Hurst, Director of Responsible Gambling at GVC Holdings.

“We are currently working on a number of projects, including additional treatment provision for gambling-related harm, digital app therapy provisions, the use of AI to help minimise harm and our research partnership with Harvard.

“We are determined that responsible gambling is a non-negotiable part of the way we do business, and ‘Changing for the Bettor’ is our considered attempt to lead the way in minimising the risk from gambling-related harm.”

A year since the launch of ‘Changing for the Bettor’, GVC governance states that the company is ready to pursue a series of ‘Quantitative commitments’ for future years

GVC’s ‘Quantitative commitments’ related to safer gambling include:

  • Doubling the amount GVC donates to problem gambling research, education and treatment bodies to 0.2% of UK gross gaming revenue, rising gradually to 1% by 2022 (the equivalent of £20 million).
  • Starting a safer gambling awareness and education programmes for school children through GVC’s partnership with EPIC Risk Management.
  • Developing the firm’s partnership with Harvard Medical School to better understand and reduce the potential for problem gambling behaviour through rigorous research.

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