IMGL Magazine April 2022

Regulator’s perspective

the outcomes it leads to. Sometimes they are harder to argue and that can make regulators risk averse when it comes to commissioning research. If you decide you want to take evidence in support of a decision, then you have to assess what evidence is meaningful to the situation, you have to evaluate who is providing the evidence and whether it can be trusted. And you have to do all that before you regulate when you are often under pressure. That’s not easy. Having said that, we do have many years of experience of regulation across many jurisdictions and a body of research evidence that can be drawn upon. It really is time for us all to collaborate across stakeholders and share the evidence we have of what works. There is a tendency to distrust focus on local/regional ways only but I would like to see a more global approach. The industry is very international and we should all welcome a common approach as it will reduce operating friction as well as lead to better regulation. The gaming and gambling industry after Covid We are just emerging from many months of Covid-related disruption and it is natural to expect that to have an impact on our industry. If we take Europe and the US, we’ve seen very different responses during Covid and that is to be

expected given the maturity of each market. In the US, it seems the costs of the pandemic is one of the factors which has pushed states to regulate gambling. In Europe, with a mature gambling market, the reaction has been very different with regulators worrying more about lockdowns leading to a big rise in problem gambling and bringing in restrictions to advertising and promotions as a result. I don’t want to pass judgement on either of the responses, but I confess I’m not a fan of regulation that responds to events, even events as serious as the pandemic. It tends to be pushed through in a hurry, it confuses the market and circumstance means it is almost certainly not based on sufficient evidence if any at all. Some people might say that European countries that brought in marketing restrictions should be praised for reacting to a potential problem, but is there enough evidence that their citizens suffered fewer gambling harms than those in other countries? Worse still, is anyone even asking that question? Now, you could say that it is better to react, to take pre-emptive action, but there is a danger that regulation passed during moments of panic stays in force long after the reason it was passed is forgotten. If you combine that with the pace of change in the industry, there is a risk that the attention moves on and you’re left with a patchwork of regulations which you never intended to have. Taking a lead in the industry

16 • IMGL Magazine • April 2022

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