There’s a well-known saying about a dog being for life, not just for Christmas. I feel the same about Safer Gambling Week – it’s an issue of huge importance all-year round, not just for one week of the year.
That’s not to say that Safer Gambling Week isn’t important – of course it is – but it’s important to stress that this isn’t some box-ticking exercise. Rather, it’s a great opportunity for the whole industry to come together and start a conversation with each other and our customers about safer gambling and how we promote it.
It’s my job at William Hill to make sure that we’ve got effective policies and procedures in place to ensure we are instilling customer protection in everything we do. And that applies in our betting shops as much as it does to the William Hill and Mr Green online sites.
Safer Gambling Week is so important because it gives a genuine focus to safer gambling. It’s really important that the whole industry is on board with the same message – that being in control should be fundamental to the betting experience, and that there are a range of tools out there to make that possible.
It’s also important for our customers because it gets a conversation going. In our betting shops, they’ll see the posters advertising Safer Gambling Week and then ask the staff questions about it. It’s a really good opportunity to talk to customers, not just about the campaign, but about how they can gamble responsibly all the time.
The Safer Gambling Week logo and messages will be bannered across our websites, while our social media channels will also be highlighting it. We want our customers to think about their relationship with gambling - is it a healthy one, is it a sustainable one or is it something they need to do something about?
Another important thing to stress is that the ways we promote safer gambling, and help those who may have problems, are not set in stone and are always evolving. At William Hill, we review Safer Gambling Interactions, and use an instant messaging platform to let our colleague know in real-time when they have done an effective interaction, or where we think more can be done on the next interaction to help the customer. If a member of staff approaches the interaction in a way that gets a customer to use a safer gambling tool, they are praised and that best practice is then spread around their colleagues.
We also have a safer gambling hub on our learning and development site, which contains specific learning on all things safer gambling, from age verification to how to identify the signs that someone may have a problem – for example, someone leaving a betting shop to get more cash – and then being able to appropriately intervene.
We are also working with our friends at YGAM to understand the best way to approach a customer when you are potentially asking them very sensitive information, or for documents. We want to normalise safer gambling so it’s part of the betting experience, it’s not a bolt-on.
Safer Gambling Week is a great chance for us to take a temperature check, to see what we are doing internally, what works well, what we can do better and ensure that those lessons are weaved into everything we do.
Gemma Burge is Head of UK Safer Gambling Policy, Strategy and Risk at William Hill