GIA scraps 2018 Responsible Gambling Operator Award

GIA says ‘No One’ worthy of Responsible Online Gambling Operator award in 2018.

No Responsible Online Gambling Operators worthy of GIA AwardThe prestigious Gaming Intelligence Awards (GIAs) are one of three major gambling industry awards ceremonies that take place during the annual ICE Totally Gaming conference in London. Everyone who’s anyone – and then some – turn out for the 3-day summit and bevy of ceremonial galas.

This year, the GIAs weren’t quite what everyone expected. A panel of 50 judges, made up of long-time industry executives, decides which nominees are worthy of receiving honors. The 2018 GIAs extol the best of the best throughout 2017 across 22 influential categories. But only 21 trophies were actually handed out.

None Worthy of Responsible Online Gambling Award

Each year, the online gambling industry is expected to increase its efforts towards responsible gambling. While some operators were recognized for doing their fair share, the GIA judges determined that no one did enough to deserve being honored for their efforts.

As GIA officials explained in a memo following the ceremony:

And the winner of the of Responsible Gambling Operator of the Year goes to… no one”.

Officials stated that, while a strong range of entries, spanning numerous companies, have been “doing some impressive things… our judging panel came to the decision that no company had done quite enough to justify the prize.”

Organizers pointed out that public confidence has waned dramatically in regards to the responsibility of online gambling verticals in the last year. In 2017, a multitude of operators were hit with fines, millions of dollars worth, for failing to comply with mandatory responsibility safeguards.

With that in mind, officials said, “it would have taken something particularly special to secure this prize”. Unfortunately, that extra effort was not visible in any of this year’s GIA entries.

Good, But Not Good Enough

Last year, the Responsible Operator of the Year Award went to Kindred Group (formerly Unibet). While their efforts of a year ago are still laudable, GIA says that expectations are higher with each passing year.

The company points out that Kindred’s Integrity Analytics Manager, Maris Bonello, ignited the brand’s existing approach to responsibility. However, their tactics aim to detect problem gambling, not necessarily react or offer a solution.

Mr Green was also up for the award. That company initiated its ‘Green Gaming‘ program in 2017, focusing on social responsibility. But again, the proof is in the results, and they just aren’t enough to warrant an award.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) is another good example, running its PlaySmart campaign. Gaming Intelligence calls it an “excellent initiative” that aims to prevent problem gambling by educating players, but award-worthy? Nope.

“These are all effective approaches that should be adopted by all,” says the firm. But separately, the judges feel none are deserving of the honors.

Responsible Online Gambling Means Safe Entertainment

Laura da Silva Gomes is the founder and director of Silverfish CSR Ltd, and one of the esteemed judges of the GIAs. In her view, “The industry needs to try and solve the riddle of making gambling a safe form of entertainment”.

Although not the easiest hurdle to overcome, it’s not exactly rocket science, either. Gaming Intelligence believes it could be something as relatively simple as allocating more resources towards social responsibility, and measuring the efficiency of existing controls.

They believe the key to success is dependent upon the exploration of current measures. Are existing responsibility models actually working to reduce problem gambling? How effective are they? What areas are more effective than others, and how can the less effective controls be amplified, or replaced with something better? And what would happen if companies put even a fourth as much emphasis on responsibility as they do are marketing their products?

GIA Judge Pears McCabe, Director of UK marketing firm, McCabe Brands, has a simple solution to that problem. Don’t look at responsibility as an added expense, and potential loss of revenue. Look at it as an assurance towards brand longevity.

“The industry should be deploying a similar level of energy, positivity and resources to how it promotes responsible gambling as a leisure activity,” says McCabe. “It needs to be thought of less as something companies have to do, and more as something which has positive outcomes for all, namely the long-term sustainability of their brands and the industry as a whole.”

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