At the recent Social Responsibility Exchange, organised by Bacta, operators went to discuss strategies to deliver enhanced customer protection. What they got was a joint workshop between the ARA and Beacon Counselling which aimed to help them transfer the theory into practical application.
With social responsibility the priority for both operators and regulators alike, Graham England, Addiction Recovery Agency CEO for the South West and Wales, joined Neil Platt of Beacon Counselling to introduce their joint workshop ‘Sometimes it’s more than a game.’
The workshop, which explores strategies to identify and support individuals experiencing problem gambling, is designed by the two charities to help operators bridge the gap between intention and action.
“There is pressure building to ensure safe play in the amusement industry,” said England. “The earlier someone identifies as having an issue, and the quicker they access help, the better the outcome.
“The government is seeking better player protection and is focusing on vulnerable people, regulators are looking for better responsibility response from operators, but most importantly it’s the right thing to do.”
With AGCs and FECs being urged by regulators and local authorities to make compliance more of a key part of daily routine, the workshop will also seek to train frontline staff in the most effective customer interaction.
“We don’t want people to become counsellors,” said England. “We want to give people the confidence and the ability to go from compliance to doing something small and practical. That’s what we saw as the gap.”
“By working with Bacta to achieve what we have, we believe we’re ahead of the game, working to make the race to the top, making sure people can do practical, tangible things and put substance to the compliance.”
The introduction also highlighted how players and customers are responding positively to having more readily available management systems at their disposal, thanks to stronger and more effective compliance measures being put in place by operators nationwide.
“A third of our referrals come through the National Problem Gambling helpline, less than that to be fair,” said Platt.
“The rest of them either come from self-referral or people knowing and being promoted to a local service. People are much more comfortable and much more confident in terms of access when it is local and immediate as opposed to a convoluted network.”
With many amusement arcade staff and operators boasting a familiar relationship with their customers and community, Platt added that local and personal element is a key element to remember when interacting with potentially problem gamblers.
“The mere fact that you can have contact with them, in a sympathetic way, in a supportive way – maybe it’ll be a week, maybe two weeks, maybe two years, but in my experience they take this onboard,” said Platt. “The earlier intervention, as Graham says, the better the outcome.”
With the large attendance at the conference demonstrating just how dedicated Bacta members are to consumer protection, the workshop aims to ensure that all elements of an operator’s business are working toward the same SR goal.
“What we want to do is make sure that people go to bed at night thinking the people that are dealing with my customers can take that little step that makes the compliance real,” added England.