It is Problem Gambling Awareness Month in the United States. Among the companies taking part are Entain, the massive London stock-market listed company that owns brands including Bwin, Coral, Ladbrokes, CasinoClub, Foxy Bingo, Gala, partypoker and PartyCasino.
While these initiatives are taking place largely in the United States, this global company will have an impact in the UK and beyond too.
The initiatives are being run via Entain’s own not-for-profit organisation, the Entain Foundation, and are largely focused on research and education into problem gambling and work on treatments for those who do have problems.
They include these initiatives:
The Eight Annual Gambling Disorder Screening Day will be promoted by Entain. The day is led by staff from the Harvard Medical School faculty in the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance.
This event is an attempt to find ways to spot players with problem gambling behaviours. Among the initiatives is an online screening toolkit for customers to check their own gambling behaviours. Entain is planning on promoting this screening to the UK customers of its Ladbrokes and Coral companies. Those companies were originally sports bookmakers but now run large casino sites too.
Entain is also joining Nevada’s biggest problem gambling organisation.
A survey on the provision of support for problem gamblers across the United States will also be undertaken.
Entain is working on a number of other initiatives with Harvard Medical School. The company is running a five-year programme that aims to understand the reasons behind addiction in sports betting and casino gaming. This programme is focusing on finding markers that might point to at-risk behaviour. Entain describes it as “pioneering a technology-led, proactive approach to help protect those at risk”.
Entain is now undertaking a number of problem gambling and safe gambling initiatives.
In the UK the government is undertaking a slew of reviews into the gambling industry. The UK Gambling Commission is doing an affordability review, and a review into the legislation under which the UK gambling industry runs is due to report later this year and to be implemented in 2022.
The gambling industry has exploded since 2005 when the New Labour government liberalised the industry with a complete overhaul of gambling laws. The concurrent explosion in internet access – and subsequently in mobile internet access – helped turn the internet gambling industry into one of the biggest and most visible in the UK. This has been accompanied by a steady flow of stories of personal tragedy related to the gambling industry and to regulatory action taken over companies who have not treated their customers well enough.
In response, the industry has been aggressively lobbying for more moderate reforms than the stake limits that have been proposed.
The company has also recently made a number of high-profile donations in the UK, including to sports clubs at the grassroots level.
The results of the research at Harvard may prove to be one of the biggest and best legacies of this period of explosive growth in the gambling industry around the world.