The betting and gaming industry has been placing an increased focus on social responsibility and safer gambling initiatives, and for Mark Potter of EPIC Risk Management, lived experience can play a vital role in the formulation of these policies.
Commenting on one of Kindred Group’s recent breakout sessions, the gambling harm consultancy’s Head of Delivery US detailed highlighted his own experience with gambling related harm as well as his ongoing role with EPIC.
“If you look at the main drivers for gambling, one of the main things should be that it should be done for fun and enjoyment,” he commented. “For all of your guys’ (operators) customer bases that should be the case, but when things start to change and it starts to become about something else – as it did for me – that’s when we need to better understand what harm exists.
“We created a gambling spectrum which was created using our first-hand knowledge of addiction, and it reflects the various stages of gambling right from the day of placing your first bet through to being a disorder or pathological gambler.”
EPIC was itself founded by Paul Buck in 2013, after he overcame a 10-year long gambling addiction which saw him transact £5 million, lose £1 million and steal £430,000 from the bank he worked for, resulting in incarceration in an open prison.
The consultancy now works to provide lived experience-driven gambling harm consultancy and awareness training across a range of sectors, including the betting and gaming industry itself as well as other sectors such as professional sport, education, financial services, the armed forces and construction.
Additionally, the group has moved to establish a presence in the burgeoning US sports betting space, having partnered with SBC Events earlier this year to launch the Player Protection Symposium, an event dedicated to building a robust gambling harm prevention ecosystem.
The use of lived experience, Potter detailed, allows clients ‘to understand how people become vulnerable’, as well as identifying at what points across the customer journey ‘things start to change’ with regards to betting habits.
Commenting on his own experience as a former professional athlete, he explained his understanding of the notion that many athletes have that they know ‘everything about sports’, financial management and the impact of injuries, which had a subsequent impact on his own gambling behaviour.
Lastly, the speaker noted that EPIC recognises that finding the right balance between social responsibility initiatives and commercial objectives can be a challenge for betting and gaming firms, as operators ultimately must work to guarantee their long-term business sustainability.
“We recognise that gambling is recognised as a leisure activity enjoyed on a regular basis by millions of people around the world, and done in a responsible way,” he remarked.
“However, what we see is that gambling can have a negative impact on the lives of a small percentage of people, and that is why the use of lived experience is so important.”