2022: A year of transition and continued learning

Before we launch into 2023 full of enthusiasm, optimism and a renewed sense of vigour, I always like to look back and reflect on the year that was 2022. 

2022 was very much a year of transition and learning, filled of mixed emotions. On the upside I am now well in to my studies and enjoying the course hugely. I feel my confidence, knowledge and awareness has increased tenfold and I am really enjoying the academic writing and learning from other delegates. I still have another two years to go and the course in 2023 will focus on People Leadership & Marketing and Communications. These are both areas where I still feel I have more to learn so looking forward to continuing my own personal journey of learning. 2022 also saw me return back from some extended travels with my partner in late January and really start to focus on my next steps to compliment my studies. Whilst travelling I was able to reflect on a humbling career and how my family, friends and partner had all supported me following my addiction, which affected them all.  Being able to contribute Lived Experience of gambling harms and establish a registered charity was a huge highlight of my thirty-two year career, and do this in a sector I have come to love, was a privilege. It is with thanks to many of the people whom I have worked with over the past nine years, that have assured me that this sector is for me, and its a sector I want to continue to contribute to and learn from until I retire. Therefore establishing ESG Gaming was in many ways a no-brainer, but we needed to find our absolute niche to avoid duplication. I am so grateful to our Founding Non-Executive Directors / Trustees who have committed to our journey. One year in, significant value is being added by every one of them which is so pleasing to see. We have a shared ambition that ESG Gaming will not employ any more than six or eight people over the medium term. However this small team will deliver value, insight and impact similar to an organisation three or four times our size. The gambling sector are providing RET donations in record volumes at the moment, but two frustrations I have are firstly, this huge uplift doesn’t seem to be recognised and it really should be. Secondly the vast majority of organisations in this space do an absolute sterling job, but there are some organisations, in my view, who seem to be spending this additional income in ways which doesn’t seem core to their purpose. The gambling industry have kept their side of the agreement to provide more funding, however what is disappointing to see, is how some of this additional income is being spent. What I also find curious is some still insist  there is ‘still not enough’ funding available. I would suggest accessing some of this additional funding is the issue, not the lack of funding. 

I have enormous admiration for entrepreneurs, particularly those who want to use their lived-experience to create social change. My work with Virgin StartUp is hugely inspiring; whether it is working alongside entrepreneurs who are tackling food poverty, homelessness; lack of social mobility or addictions, nobody truly understands the sacrifices entrepreneurs make, than your own peer group. There are a few special people who create significant organisations from their lived experience and from a starting base of absolutely nothing. I see this in our sector and it is humbling and inspiring, but far from a straight forward journey for that entrepreneur. My biggest learning from 2022 and in many ways my entire career, is to really choose carefully who you work most closely with; whom you take advice from; and really take the time to understand the motivations of those who claim too, or genuinely want to help you on your entrepreneurial journey. 

With optimism and limitless energy; a deep sense of commitment; sheer hard work with a firm focus on impact, is how I am approaching 2023. I am under no illusion of the challenges and some of the political nonsense in our sector, but as in previous years I will rise above this; quietly and effectively creating social change with our exemplar ESG Gaming founding team. We are starting 2023 with a bang, as in January we have our Investors in People accreditation visit; our ISO 9001 accreditation visit; we have the EAG Show at the Excel Centre in London, supported by bacta and we complete our Theory of Change and initial web3 research with Bournemouth University, supported by Merkur UK. January will also see us publish our 2023 Enabling Plan, our updated website and uplift our marketing and thought leadership; sharing news of the impact we are creating and insight we are learning

  February will see ESG Gaming publish our Theory of Change and initial web3 research as well as complete the Ofqual Recognition progress and Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) process to become an apprenticeship End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). Additionally in February we are going to showcase our short film around technology in-equality in esports and launch the recruitment for our esports advisory group, supported by the Ambassadeurs Group with Lionscreed esports and Invest in Film. February also sees the return of the ICE Show again at the London Excel Centre, where ESG Gaming will be showcased in the esports arena and at the ESIC esports conference, supported by Clarion.

March see’s ESG Gaming working alongside ESI Esports Insider at the Next Gen education conference at Warwick university and March is when we start to build our initial web3 platform around player protection, supported by the Ambassadeurs Group and Play’n GO. March will also see ESG Gaming hopefully commission further research with Bournemouth University around Influencer led gambling on gaming platforms. 

  I will not lie, the past twelve months have been a challenge, but as ever there are lots of positives to take from the year and that is where my focus is. The ESG Gaming founding team and I are so grateful to those who have already committed to our collective journey looking at apprenticeships; gambling in gaming; web3 transition and competitive gaming (esports). We remain keen to work alongside other organisations looking at these areas of focus and would welcome a new year coffee at any time.