Contentious Case of Social Responsibility in Online Gambling
The world of gambling has gone through wholesome changes over the past couple of decades.
A shift of tide from the brick-and-mortar landscape to online gambling has marked the beginning of a new gambling era. An era, which entices with its unfathomable potential and lucrative lure, but at the same time frightens with its dark and unexplored depths.
Universally defined as a form of entertainment, leisure activity, or recreation, gambling in its original connotation relies on the element of fun. A more detailed definition of the word could convey an alternative perception, which opens the door to the challenges gambling faces today.
Stating gambling as ‘chancy’ and ‘risky’ goes hand-in-hand with ‘No Risk, No Gain’ to justify one’s reason for playing to obtain profit.
The unstoppable progress of technology and its unlimited potential have not only revolutionized gambling but have also transformed it into a largely lucrative way for states and governments to raise revenue. Countries around the globe have resorted to authorization and the expansion of regulations related to online gambling in order to find a way to raise – and ultimately increase – revenues from these activities.
Numbers presented by Statista reveal staggering potential. Gambling gross gaming yield (GGY) recorded in 2001 almost doubled until 2009. The upward trend continues despite hitting a 4-year lowest mark in 2015.
Figure 1 – Global casino market gross gaming yield (GGY) from 2001 to 2019 (Statista.com)
As seen in the graph above, GGY is forecasted to reach $130B in 2019. State officials and lawmakers are increasingly latching onto gambling as an easy go-to method to plug gaping holes in the budget.
With great money comes great responsibility. The bulking business of gambling is going through public scrutiny at the moment. In a bid to create a positive business image, gambling businesses are being advised – and as of late urged – to take a firmer grip on establishing corporate social responsibility. They need to be tackling the challenges that the new age of gambling has brought upon the world.
Corporate Social Responsibility
More than a business model and a rule of ethics, corporate responsibility should be a way of life. It helps companies stand proud and tall in front of their stakeholders, customers, and the general public.
Corporate citizens will be aware of the type of impact they are having on society. As such, they will be held accountable for their actions. In short, businesses that practice corporate social responsibility will operate in a way that will help society enhance its potential and power. It involves philanthropy in all its forms. Humanitarian endeavors and volunteering in a broad sense definitely fit the bill. But what does it stand for in gambling, especially online gambling?
The No.1 gambling authority in the world – the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) – is simplifying the definition of social responsibility in gambling. The regulator describes it as an act of protecting people from gambling-related harm.
As a widespread activity that engages a great number of people on a daily basis, gambling is, most of the time, practiced safely and responsibly, both offline and online. Excessive play and periods marked by loss of control, however, are early signs that a person is beginning to suffer from addictive gambling. It ultimately leaves a mark on gamblers themselves, as well as on their loved ones and the community.
It’s up to gambling operators to put up a system that will help gamblers recognize their problem, fight addiction and get it under control. UKGC is encouraging operators to proactively interact with gamblers early on and help them tackle the issue in its root. What’s more, UKGC has its entire gambling licensing system set up around three main licensing objectives to support the base of gambling:
- Keep crime out of gambling
- Conduct gambling in a fair and open way
- Protect children and vulnerable social categories from gambling’s harm or exploitation
Social responsibility is a global industry challenge best achieved through an organized endeavor. The industry’s most reliable gambling operators, most of which can be found on the list highlighted by Best Casinos, will work hand-in-hand with relevant organizations to make sure all measures are put in place to ensure the safest gambling environment for their clients.
Top-of-the-crop gaming venues, such as those vetted by the United Kingdom Gambling Association, should join forces with the likes of GambleAware and other partner organizations in the area of social responsibility, in order to broaden public understanding of gambling-related harm.
Raising awareness towards problem gambling and broadening the corporate social responsibility specter have unfortunately been insufficient to keep gambling challenges under control in an age of rapid technological development.
One particular segment that’s been especially contentious and litigious is underage gambling. The Gambling Act 2005 states that a ‘child’ is an individual less than 16 years old, whereas a ‘young person’ is defined as someone less than 18 years old. It further states that a person – and in a broader sense of the word an operator – commits an offense if they invite, cause, or permit a child or young person to gamble.
The number of children classified as having a gambling problem has quadrupled in just two years, a UKGC study has suggested. Conducted among 11-16-year-olds in Great Britain in November 2018, the study claims the number of child gamblers stands at more than 50K.
The Young People and Gambling Report also found that:
- Over the past 12 months, 39% of 11-16-year-olds have spent their own money on gambling
- 6% had gambled online using a parent or guardian’s account
- 7% of 11-16-year-olds are classified as ‘problem’ gamblers’
- 2% are ‘at risk’ and 32.5% classified as non-problem gamblers
- 14% agree it’s OK for someone their age to gamble
Concerns have been raised over the fact that close to 1M young people have been exposed to gambling through ‘loot boxes’ in video games or smartphone apps. This involves paying money for an item that becomes available after purchasing.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has taken a stance to improve the stats, however. One of the first steps was preparing a letter in association with the Advertising Standards Authority. Through this letter, online gambling operators were ordered to remove games promoted with characters appealing to children. Games with children-appealing themes, though free, present a risk of developing a gambling habit. More than 450 operators have been advised to amend their advertising policy.
Letter recipients’ list includes the online betting giants. Numbers show that private betting was one of the most prevalent forms of gambling activities among 11-15-year-olds. Such an uptrend has most recently led to Remote Gambling Association (RGA) introducing a plan for a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising during sporting events.
Despite criticism arriving from the likes of Sky CEO Stephen van Rooyen, who believed RGA’s suggestion would just hide the ‘inconvenient truth’ that over 80% of gambling advertising takes place online, Britain’s most reputable gambling companies have voluntarily agreed to sign a television ban, BBC reported.
It is definitely perceived as a step in the right direction despite the fact every challenge solved will undoubtedly open another one, ultimately leading to constant contention of social responsibility standards in gambling.
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