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Third Panel: Responsible Gaming and Corporate Social Responsibility

The 3rd panel, focused on responsible gaming and corporate social responsibility, was moderated by Miloš Savić (WM Equity Partners) and participants in the discussions were: Vasiliki Panousi (EGBA), Tom Edmonds (Northridgelaw), Nadiya Attard (Relax Gaming), Zoran Puhač (EOGL) and Borjan Popović (Mozzart).

The initial topic tackled the trends in the gaming industry affected by the pandemic. The share in online gambling saw an increasing trend but put a lot of pressure on the gaming operators to find the right balance between social responsibility and profits. Ethical and moral grounds sometimes may differ depending on the market development so finding the right balance is a demanding job especially in times of crisis.

Vasiliki Panousi (EGBA) presented some of the recent positive and negative trends in the gaming industry highlighting multi-licensing as a step forward and the black market as an outcome of severe restrictions placed on the industry which has to react. She explained the concept of aggressive marketing and appealing messaging especially in the context of protection of minors. She pointed out that the focus should be put on the protection of consumers.

Nadiya Attard (Relax Gaming) said that the bans put on marketing activities or rigorous restrictions on advertising activities are generating black traffic and placing consumers into an unprotected position. She also stressed that the regulators should consult the operators in order to reach a balance between responsible gaming and market demands explaining that rigorous restrictions are pushing people to the black-market. In reality, according to Mrs. Attard, the focus should be placed on creating effective measures and how to help vulnerable groups rather than imposing extra fines on the gambling operators.

Borjan Popović (Mozzart) elaborated further on this topic claiming that if the rules of the game were set up in the right direction, that would actually be the best way to stop the black-market. Mr. Popovic also pointed out that the Coronavirus crisis has created some serious financial losses to the gambling industry in Serbia, betting shops were closed and there was no sports betting, highlighting the importance of corporate social responsibility and charity actions delivered by Mozzart during the pandemic. He also raised a question about the lack of relevant research demonstrating to which extent the addiction problem was widespread and to which extent the advertising activities may increase the number of addicts.

Zoran Puhač (EOGL) started his presentation pointing out that there are 3 methods used to regulate advertising in the gaming industry; one is a total ban on advertising, the second one is based on a heavily regulated market just like in the UK and the third one is like the one in Sweden where it is considered that all companies must be aware what aggressive advertising is. Furthermore, he explains that the public opinion has a stronger impact and may cause more damage to the gaming industry, and therefore not only regulations but public opinion should be taken into consideration as well when creating such regulations. He also stressed that the problem with pathological gambling is often used for political reasons based on the widespread stereotypes. He also mentioned some good cases of self-regulation in Serbia.

Tom Edmonds (Northridgelaw) spoke about the current trends and increase in regulations covering responsible gaming including the upcoming review of the UK Gambling Act. Gambling advertising has been burdened with more bans on sports betting advertising and game design, making the gaming operators even less flexible. He also highlighted the importance of corporate social responsibility in the UK and how the gambling industry is contributing to the community.