In 2005 Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs gave a speech in which he said “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”. For the last 20 years Global Betting and Gaming Consultants (GBGC) has been using is expertise and experience in gambling to help its clients connect the dots and understand the events and issues in the sector.
The “dots” for GBGC’s clients can be historical, geographical and even non-gambling but GBGC has several advantages which helps it make sense of them.
GBGC’s consultants have long experience of the gambling business and can bring that the bear in recalling previous events and connecting the dots when gambling history inevitably repeats itself. A recent example of this was the voluntary “whistle to whistle” ban on pre-watershed television gambling adverts during live sports, which was agreed by the UK’s gambling companies at the end of 2018.
GBGC’s long experience in the gambling sector was able to recall to its clients that self-regulation of gambling adverts was nothing new and that it was not a great success last time it was tried by the UK bookmakers in the late 1970s. The bookmakers had set up an advertising committee in conjunction with the newspapers that screened bookmakers’ press advertising.
When one bookmaker’s advert was pulled by the advertising committee, the company chairman took the matter to the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs in the Department of Trade. The Minister described the advertising committee as the worst restriction of trade that she had ever seen. The committee was immediately abandoned. Attitudes towards the advertising of gambling in today’s political climate might differ but by understanding what has been tried in the past, GBGC is able to give a wider historical context to the measures, for the benefit of its clients.
GBGC’s comprehensive Global Gambling Report is approaching its fourteenth edition and covers more than 250 gambling jurisdictions. In compiling gambling data and information for each of these jurisdictions, GBGC is able to connect the geographical dots and see emerging trends or identify when one jurisdiction is following a path of regulation previously taken by a jurisdiction elsewhere in the world. In recent years these have included steps such as: the creation of specific gambling zones, gambling tax increases, the introduction of a winnings tax, and bans on gambling advertising.
The breadth of GBGC’s research and its consultants’ interests also means it can join the dots between gambling and other topics, be it economics, history, technology or investment strategy. It is by looking at issues outside the narrow focus of gambling that GBGC can place gambling’s issues in the wider socio-economic context.
It was this range of interests that led GBGC to research the way government action has an impact on the gambling industry through the introduction of regulation and taxation. The research resulted in GBGC creating the gambling cycle.
The cycle describes how the economic cycle affects the political cycle and how, in turn, both influence the gambling sector. For example, a decline in a country’s GDP leading to a fall in employment and inflation. For gambling, trading becomes more difficult as margins become tight leading to lower profits. With inflation falling, the economy sees the currency appreciate making exports more expensive. Government’s tax receipts fall and, at this point in the cycle, the gambling industry (along with other sin sectors such as tobacco and alcohol) may be the subject of a tax increase, creating a further profits fall.
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun”.
GBGC has the experience and perspective to recognise the phases of the recurring cycles and connect the dots to give valuable advice to its clients as they seek to make a success of the gambling businesses and investments.