White: Advertising and marketing flow is Ontario’s biggest challenge

The biggest challenge facing Ontario now is dealing with the “advertising and marketing flow” of new operators entering the market.

These are the words Shelly WhiteCEO in Responsible Gambling CouncilI sat down with CasinoBeats to talk about the region’s performance since its launch in April and how it could improve gambling security.

CasinoBeats will be the speaker at the Canadian Gaming Summit to be held in Ontario, just two months after the province launched its digital ecosystem. How do you rate the performance of the region in this short time?

Shelly White: Over the past few years, CJR has worked closely with key Ontario stakeholders to develop robust standards for betting on games and sports. Both sports betting and igaming have unique characteristics that make these types of games different from casinos, bingo and lotteries.

We have provided evidence-based online gambling standards and recommended practices such as controlling online gambling, studying prevalence, public practice and education, and policy development and implementation.

As the new online market in Ontario was a completely new territory, RGC saw an opportunity to build on Ontario’s strong gaming regulations, implementing standards and RJ practices tailored to the gaming and online sports betting industries, to address the unique characteristics of these types of games.

We know from our research and global research body that aggressive and profuse advertising can negatively impact vulnerable populations, such as young adults and those who gamble. We have also learned from mature markets such as the UK and Australia that the public is against prolific gambling ads.

As a result, we have seen governments and regulators in other jurisdictions attempt to mitigate this phenomenon by developing policies Zeroing is prohibited. It prohibits displaying advertisements during games and at certain times of the day, and restricts advertisements targeting certain population groups.

With this knowledge in mind, Ontario has implemented protocols to try and reduce the aggressiveness of gambling advertising and marketing. Restricting incentives and blocking rewards in mainstream advertising is a very proactive and effective approach. Ontario can be proud of its implementation.

As everyone navigates this new market, boundaries are set and learned. It will be necessary to monitor the market as other operators enter and exploit practices take shape. We will need to be vigilant and proactive about opportunities to change and amend regulations to prevent potential harms from gambling.

CB: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Ontario? Have you noticed any shortcomings so far?

SW: The biggest challenge facing Ontario now is the influx of advertising and marketing from new operators entering the market. Despite our anticipation, many in the public tell us that the amount of publicity is in bad taste.

This type of aggressive advertising has negative effects on some vulnerable populations.

Although Ontario has standards in place for advertising and marketing, the RGC would like to see these standards expanded to include more balanced advertising which may also include appropriate responsible messaging.

We have seen that some operators use part of their advertising budget to develop ads rooted in responsible gambling and which provide the public with information about the dangers of gambling and the need to gamble within their means. It is very encouraging and we hope to see more of this practice.

Data is an important part of evaluating and reporting on the development of RM’s leading practices. We are pleased that iGO is collecting player data that it will make available to researchers, and that it has commissioned a prevalence study to set the standard for gaming and sports betting.

The use of player data will be vital as Ontario moves through the various stages of market maturity. We want to be able to jot down effective standards, pain points, and learning so that we can be proactive with our standards and public education campaigns to protect consumers.

Making changes after the event will not be enough, we will need to be smart and flexible to continually improve as we progress through the various stages.

CB: Personalization is a much discussed topic in gambling, but what role can it play in responsible gaming? Is it widely used and effective enough?

SW: Customization and programming tailored to the audience is essential to responsible gaming. RG is not a one-size-fits-all approach. To be truly effective and have an impact, messages and information must be tailored and evidence-based.

At CJR, we use a customer segmentation approach for public awareness campaigns. Not all audiences buy the same messages or information, so we need to be very specific in the information we provide to certain groups in order for it to be relevant.

We are beginning to see the broader industry embrace a more personalized model of responsible gambling. Cultural sensitivity and awareness are also beginning to become emerging themes when developing and implementing genetic resources in global contexts.

Through collaboration and knowledge sharing among leaders, together we can create a responsible and sustainable gaming culture.

CB: Is gaming security an integral part of all aspects of companies operating in this sector? How can this be improved?

SW: This question is deeply rooted in the foundations of CJR and the work we do. Advocating for responsible gambling has been at the heart of our business for 40 years. More and more, we are starting to see a shift in the way companies think about Royal Jordanian. It used to be about ticking a box off the to-do list, and now we’re seeing operators embrace and put responsible gaming at the center of their operations.

The ROI that responsible gaming provides to a business is invaluable, not only for the bottom line but also for its reputation. Companies that care about their players and customers will succeed in creating a sustainable player base.

It is always possible to get better. Companies need to change their approach and make genetic resources a priority by embedding them in their culture from top to bottom. If all employees participate and believe in the policies and practices in place, the governing group will have greater influence and effectiveness.

CB: What are you most looking forward to from the Canadian Games Summit?

SW: I look forward to meeting face to face with fellow industry leaders and peers. Networking and having meaningful face-to-face conversations will be important. I also look forward to attending a conference full of sessions and panel discussions that will facilitate positive change in our work.

Ontario’s new regulated online market is sure to be a hot topic, along with technological innovation and what that means for responsible gambling. As the Canadian gaming scene evolves, there will be a lot to discuss, debate, and learn.

I am delighted to be part of the Summit again and to participate as a member of the committee. This year marks the twenty-fifthe Anniversary of the summit, an incredible milestone!

The Summit brings together the best in the industry, and now more than ever, it’s time to spark discussion and encourage each other to find new ways to innovate and promote responsible gaming.

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