Our commitment to acting responsibly is rightly clear to see in our commitment to minimise the potential for harm from gambling. Whilst the prevalence of gambling problems in Great Britain appears broadly stable, it is certain that the industry continues to innovate at pace, introducing new products and services and embracing the greater use of mobile gambling devices for those customers increasingly seeking multi-channel access to gambling entertainment. The challenge presented by combatting problem gambling is itself increasingly complex and evolving, but many of the same technologies and developments can assist in this regard. Any development of products and services can and must be undertaken with as firm a focus on meeting our social commitments, as well as our commercial objectives. There can be no doubt that our commitment to responsible gambling must remain and must grow and that we should be a positive example for others in the industry.
Building upon past investment, Rank took significant steps in 2016/17 to increase the scale and impact of its response to the prevention and detection of problem gambling.
Oversight by the board is ensured by the board’s responsible gambling committee, chaired by the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Kilmorey. During the year, the committee examined and contributed to a number of critical matters, including the government’s review of gaming machines and social responsibility and the annual assurance statement submitted by Rank to the Gambling Commission. The committee met with and gained key insights from Dr Simon Tanner of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board and, separately, Professor Ian McHale of Salford University who, along with Professor David Forrest, completed extensive research into machine play and indicators of problem gambling behaviour using anonymised data from Grosvenor Casinos.
Two new roles were created by Rank during the year, a head of responsible gambling and a responsible gambling data scientist. In particular, the data scientist role has significantly enhanced Rank’s analysis of historic player behaviour amongst digital customers, improving our ability to recognise risk and to know when a responsible gambling intervention may be helpful. The challenge, not only for Rank but for the whole industry, is to trial and determine the effectiveness of a range of possible intervention methods and to understand how to effectively time any intervention so to have the greatest benefit in encouraging our customers to reflect upon their play. The coming year will see us continue to focus on this important topic.
The establishment of our new customer contact centre in Sheffield, the Customer Solutions Hub (CSH), allows us to better embed our policies and procedures for responsible gambling and to improve the monitoring of customers, particularly those joining us online. The CSH, working across the Rank brands and channels to support and service customer needs, is ideally placed to improve our joined-up view of a customer and their experience wherever they choose to play. The CSH will grow in experience to play a pivotal role in the delivery of our player protection initiatives. During the year, extensive training has been provided to CSH employees to develop their awareness and understanding of problem and at-risk gambling and to know what to look for and how to respond when a customer, or the behaviour of a customer, suggests they may no longer be enjoying their play.
For further detail regarding activities planned for 2017/18 please see page 27 of Rank's 2017 Annual Report and Financial Statements.
Rank's dedicated responsible gambling website keepitfun.rank.com