Wes Himes: RGA – An effective responsible gambling message starts with awareness

Wes Himes – RGA

Industry figureheads and wider health and education stakeholders gathered in May to discuss whether ‘the gambling industry is giving players enough control?’ at the most recent meeting of the Parliamentary All Party Betting and Gaming Group  –APBGG – (7 May 2019).

The subject matter was discussed by Sarah Hanratty, Chief Executive Officer at the Senet Group; Damon De Ionno, Managing Director & Head of Strategy at Revealing Reality; Wes Himes, Chief Executive Officer at the Remote Gambling Association (RGA); and John White, Chief Executive Officer of BACTA.

In a discussion with Wes Himes, he told SBC about how effectively delivering a responsible gambling message has to start with raising awareness among players and the wider industry.

SBC: What do you think are the main challenges in assuring that an effective Responsible Gambling message is absorbed by gamblers and the wider industry?

Wes Himes: I believe it starts with awareness – we need to make sure customers are made aware of the messages and tools. The second critical issue is how to nurture the customer relationship while also assisting them in their welfare. This often involves trialling messaging, interventions and interactions to get best practice.

SBC: It was pointed out that some believe the “industry moves at the pace of the slowest member” in terms of implementing player controls and responsible gambling initiatives – what needs to be done to change this perception?

WH: This is not true – the RGA is a prime example. We have over 10 pieces of guidance which go beyond the regulations. Our effort to get GAMSTOP up and running and our recent whistle to whistle pre-watershed advertising ban are only two example of the RGA setting the bar. The difficult part of course is getting other operators to rise to meet the standards.

SBC: How can the industry achieve a balance between rolling out responsible gambling controls without creating a stigma against placing a bet?

WH: The fact is that a large percentage of the customers gamble without incurring problems. The one thing they like to do is stay in control. So giving them controls and assisting them to stay in control are one in the same.

SBC: What role do you think public education and the integration of player controls into “normal gambling” can play in minimising gambling related harm? and how can the industry help with this?

WH: Education is a formal part of the RET requirements of the industry. This is why the industry supports groups like YGAM who educate young people about issues around gambling. The industry will do more in terms of support including research and actions around critical issues such as affordability and game design.

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