As Canada gears up to launch its revamped and expanded sports betting market, potential operators are preparing their plans. Part of that involves embracing sponsorship opportunities and partnerships with leagues, teams, media, and so forth.
While advertising hookups are a tried and tested method and will appeal to Canada’s vast market of bettors and sports fans and help capitalize on Bill C-218, they can also potentially expose vulnerable citizens and populations.
At the recent SBC Summit North America, a Player Protection Symposium was held to discuss these issues, featuring sponsorship and speakers from the likes of IGT, Sightline Payments, Entain, Sportradar, and Caesars Entertainment.
During the “The Importance of Player Protection: A View from the Top” session hosted by Epic Risk Management, IGT’s newly anointed President of Sports Betting, Joe Asher, stressed that the increase of advertising will “clearly” lead to an increase in people with problem-gambling issues, and that everyone involved with the continued rollout of sports betting in Canada and the U.S. must help to combat that.
Asher admitted it’s “a very complex and complicated issue” to resolve fully due to the number of operators seeking market share in jurisdictions like Ontario. He suggested one solution could be media companies limiting the number of sports betting commercials they air, perhaps with gaming operators bidding for airtime during programming hours.
Meanwhile, GeoComply founder Anna Sainsbury noted that while legislators in new sports betting markets legislators quiz operators on issues like age and ID, geolocation, and responsible gambling, the company is seeing that systems and processes in the industry aren’t supporting responsible gaming as holistically as they are with things like random number generators.
“I think, as the industry is opening up… we have this opportunity to put responsible gaming into the fundamental platforms that we have to ensure compliance and integrity in the rest of our systems,” Sainsbury said.
Certainly, educating both players and companies is key.
In the “Exploring the Converging World of Media & Betting” session, Jason Logan, senior industry analyst for Covers, noted there is “a lot of bad information” for gamblers. Covers’ coverage and offerings, he said, are aimed primarily at educating players that there are smarter options and methods when it comes to betting on sports.
During a separate session, “Player Protection with Innovation & Technology,” Sightline Payments SVP of Strategic Development & Government Affairs, Jonathan Michaels, stressed that while gaming operators have done well in adding responsible gaming tools to apps, land-based operators must not forget their duties.
“What we’re really focused on is how do you bring that similar experience, the tools to be able to reach responsibly, into the brick-and-mortar setting,” Michaels said.
That was echoed by Melissa Etherington, vice president of partnerships at Gamban, who emphasized that companies must acknowledge that problem gambling can’t be addressed haphazardly.
And Carolene Layugan, responsible gaming program director for Caesars, noted that it’s not just about having technology and automated systems in place, but also ensuring that staff members have the tools and knowledge to identify signs of problem gambling.
Check out more from the SBC Summit North America here.