As more and more US states begin to open their doors to the legalized betting framework, Martin Lycka - Senior Vice President, US Regulatory and Responsible Gambling for Entain - urged the industry not to "sit on the fence" when it comes to solving gambling problems.
Giving a speech on the second day SBC Digital North America, Lycka began by presenting a regulatory breakdown of the US and Canadian markets, noting that several more states had already joined the "bookmaker club" in
However, he soon highlighted the importance of responsible gambling measures as he stressed the overriding need for "robust consumer protection measures with a strong emphasis on responsible gambling."
He said, “Low and look what a seismic change it has been in just three years. At the same time, as an industry, we have pioneered a sustainable path forward that will serve us well in the long run.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that the most effective way to achieve long-term stability in the North American sports betting and gambling market is to implement robust consumer protection measures with a strong emphasis on responsible gambling."
Explaining lessons can be learned from the UK and the wider European market, the SVP warned that states simply cannot "sit on the fence and wait for the storms to come" when it comes to the problem of gambling.
Instead, he begged the industry to now seize the opportunity to "get ahead" and take action. He continued: “If there is one thing to learn from Britain and from wider European experience, it is that sitting on the fence and waiting for the storm to come around is not worthwhile.
“I firmly believe that it is best for the North American industry to be proactive in and face responsible gambling with enthusiasm and determination.
“In other words, we may want to take the lead right here, right now, to prevent gambling problems from bubbling up.
“Let's not forget the old sport that defense wins the championship. Strengthening our consumer protection measures will give us an even stronger impetus to further economic development in North American markets. ”
Looking ahead, Lycka explained that the burden of helping - the customer risk is clearly in the betting and gaming industry - stressing that we also need to draw players away from the black market.
He challenged the industry to focus on the ways in which the problem of gambling can be solved, pointing out that we must continually identify cases that may put players at risk.
Lycka said, "What is the challenge we all face? Overall, it is estimated that approximately five percent of our customers are at risk from a gambling problem. That doesn't mean everyone will do it, especially if we can help them.
“Of course, it is the burden of the industry - supported by regulators and third-party suppliers - to help at-risk customers. At the same time, we must meet the needs of all customers who can and do responsibly with us. We have to do this with a view to getting them out of the black market.
“This is our challenge: can we have an attractive product portfolio while protecting our customers from the gambling addiction scourge? I think the answer is yes. Yes, we can and we must.
"Exactly because the answer is yes, now is the time for us to focus not only on constantly identifying the problem, tackling it, which is very important in itself, but above all on how to solve it."