October's EiG Expo in Berlin will be having a debate around the industry's reputation in its Mission Control 2016 stream - one of the issues to be discussed is: "Gambling is an industry where public perception can never be changed, much like the alcohol or tobacco industry. Do you agree?"
TG Talk asked some of the industry's experts to give us their perspectives on the conundrum.
Dan Waugh, Partner at Regulus Partners - History tells us that perceptions of gambling do change over time. This happens for two key reasons: 1) changes in the societal-economic backdrop that make gambling appear more or less acceptable; and 2) changes to the way that gambling is conducted (engineered by industry or government). Much can be done to change the second of these – but PR is not the answer. Tackling the negatives (chiefly gambling-related harm) is a critical step but the real gains lie in changing the nature of the product so that its benefits are felt more keenly among customers and the population at large.
Steve Donoughue, Gambling Consultant - Throughout history the British public has never had any major issues with gambling. The majority of the working and middle classes have always participated.
Opposition has always come from those who have been motivated by either religious or ideological reasons, or today, commercially embittered ones. They have are small in number but usually well-funded. The problem has always been one of perception, especially in the media and in Parliament. The industry’s disengagement from the political battleground after the Gambling Act, its subsequent dependence on a few dinosaurs spouting outdated and inappropriate homilies and where we are now with inter industry in-fighting provides ample opportunity for the antis and the headline hungry to paint the industry with the stock stereotype of rapacious capitalists targeting the poor.
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