It was nice to be back at an in-person show again, following a year of both establishing the foundations for ESG Gaming and completing year-one of my MBA. The three days have demonstrated how much I have missed trade shows and it was so nice to connect with friends and colleagues again. EAG provided the perfect opportunity to catch up with colleagues to discuss new products and opportunities and there was a keen interest in the planned work of ESG Gaming.
Having attended a number of EAG Shows previously, what was particularly nice about this years show was the Safer Gambling Hub. It was a nice, welcoming and open space, perfectly located on the show floor and benefited from good footfall. There was strong interest in the work of the good organisations that bacta had assembled within the hub and it was useful having all our organisations together in one place.
Members of bacta, like all hospitality sectors, have had a very challenging time over the past couple of years, during and post pandemic. The seasonal nature of staff employment and Brexit does contribute to make these challenges feel more acute. Added to this the upcoming Gambling White Paper; I don’t envy anybody who works in our sector. However the mood seemed to be upbeat at EAG, no doubt characterised by seasoned entrepreneurs that our sector is to blessed to have.
Looking specifically at Safer Gambling, I sense there is an opportunity for the low stake sector to come together more to both share best practise and deliver sector wide initiatives. The low stake sector have demonstrated that they can do this by, for example, the bacta training hub. This has led to venue staff training now including detailed modules on customer interaction and customer vulnerability specifically through the lens of lived-experience. Natural next steps might be the development of a measurable, low-stake, sector wide, manifesto to reduce harm; the collective RET support of themes to minimise harms with selected organisations; and enabling the voice of Lived Experience at the bacta Council. Any Lived Experience, in my view needs to be balanced and so should include those who can gamble within their means as well as those who struggle. As technology evolves and the availability and choice of gambling products for consumers, I sense there is a further opportunity for bacta members to consider how Web3, virtual experiences and arcades of the future might have unique opportunities for the low stake sector. bacta members I am sure can not only embrace this future, but also lead future player protection strategies in this evolving world.
At ESG Gaming we are keen to speak with operators who are considering this evolving world as I sense we can undertake some imaginative work together. For example, supported by Merkur UK, we are conducting research in to Web3 with Bournemouth University, specifically looking at the opportunities and challenges for consumers and parents. We are also working with the University to map out the ESG Gaming Theory of Change, which will help us to understand the academic literature and then identify the practical and measurable social impact we will create in this space. It is our aim to return to EAG in 2024 and we hope to showcase how player protection might evolve in Web3 and if any operators are on that journey now, we’d welcome an opportunity to collaborate.