The 2017 edition of the KPMG Isle of Man e-Gaming Summit was particularly well timed, given the recent events surrounding 888’s penalty from the Gambling Commission and Skybet’s decision to curtail most of its UK affiliate marketing. Many of the summit’s sessions focused on regulation and responsible gambling but an underlying theme across the day was the need for better communication by gambling operators.

Here, GBGC summarises the topics raised in the various sessions.

Communication with regulators
The influence of regulation on a gambling business is very strong. It can ultimately determine the profitability of a business. Compliance is a growing fixed cost on the gambling sector from which it is difficult to earn a return.

But, given the impact that regulation has on the gambling sector, it is essential to communicate with regulators. One speaker made the interesting point that there can be competitive advantage in setting the regulatory tone. This can only be achieved by having good discussions with regulators.

Gambling operators also need to promote the good work that is being done by the sector on responsible gambling, be it individual licence holders or through the work of the RGA. If this “good news” promotion is not done by the sector itself, no-one else will do it and the press coverage will be overwhelmingly detrimental to gambling. 

Communication between operators
The gambling sector is made up of a range of different groups each with their own priorities and trade associations. But the wider public does not make these distinctions and simply groups “gambling” into a single entity. As such, when one sector attacks another (e.g. casinos on betting shop FOBTs), it damages the perception of all “gambling” still further in the eyes of the public. This is important because both politicians and regulators view public opinion as a form of evidence to be taken into account when developing gambling policy and regulations.

There have been attempts to create sector-wide trade bodies, for example the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) and the Gambling Business Group (GBG). But more sector-wide communication and co-operation is needed. 

Communication with customers

As GBGC has written about before, the Gambling Commission is using public opinion and surveys as a source of evidence to determine its regulatory policy. In the general population, the opinion of gambling is generally negative.

The only section of the general public, therefore, who are likely to give a favourable opinion on gambling are satisfied gambling customers. Gambling operators need to improve their communication with customers, be it concerning marketing offers, resolution of complaints, or responsible gambling measures. Only in this way can the gambling sector ever hope to create a cohort of satisfied customers who are prepared to redress the balance of negative opinion.

Communication with affiliates

Affiliates have played a key role in developing the e-gaming sector. But just as the e-gaming operators are facing more regulatory scrutiny, it is inevitable that marketing affiliates will do so too. The future role of affiliates in e-gaming will be determined by communication between the two parties are to what is required and what is expected of each side.

This is especially true in areas relating to data protection and responsible gambling with new regulations coming in the form of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the GamStop self-exclusion database. There is some conflict at present as to which piece of legislation takes precedence. Can operators pass on the details of customers on the GamStop database to their affiliates to ensure the self-excluded customers do not receive further marketing material?