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The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to problem gambling prevention.

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Change is in the Air at Discovery 2014

Mar 21, 2014

Newscan (Vol. 16, Issue 11)

Spring is (just barely!) in the air here in Toronto, and to the Responsible Gambling Council, that means it’s nearly Discovery conference time. In less than six weeks, Discovery 2014 will be under way, and while you’ll see some of the familiar faces of your colleagues there, you’ll also see a few differences. 

We spoke to Jon Kelly, CEO of RGC, to get his perspective on the changes this year.

What is different about this year’s Discovery?

I would say that the biggest difference is that we’ve refocused the content—putting the emphasis on the future more than the past. Discovery 2014 is an opportunity to explore the ins and outs of some of the bigger policy questions:

  • Is it time for ID at the door of casinos?
  • Will gamblers really pre-commit and stick to their plans?
  • A lot of people seem worried about social gaming—what’s the problem?
  • Is getting into treatment the answer for everyone with a gambling problem?

These questions, and more, will be explored with an eye to the future. What might be done differently? How can we build a better safety net?

Another difference is blurring the line between the presenters and the participants. Although there will be some more traditional briefing sessions, in most sessions you’ll find the audience actively involved at least 60% of the time.

And, we’ve diversified the sessions so they won’t all run the same way. There is a mock trial with the audience as jury. There is a debate. There is another Bears’ Den session (modelled after the CBC television show Dragons’ Den), which was a very popular addition last year. All sessions will enable all participants to have a say if they wish.

What prompted RGC to change things now?

One reason is that for the past 8 years, RGC has been organizing a yearly Insight forum with a smaller number of people focused on a particular topic. Its success with more of a symposium style made us think Discovery participants might benefit from a similar sort of program.

More generally, we are trying out some changes because we have all matured in our perspectives, our programs and our insights in the last decade. Because Discovery participants are better informed than ever, there is an appetite to tackle the tougher topics and to dig into them on a more substantial level.

The agenda has four themes. Out of so many possible topics, why these four?

The four themes are the lost 90%, pre-commitment, play controls and social gaming. To choose these, we asked ourselves: what are the Big Questions we all face? We pulled these topics together based on what we know from our day to day interactions, the latest trends in responsible gambling and the array of differing programs around the world.

More than that, we also pushed ourselves to look at opposing viewpoints that are not often expressed in such forums. In each of these themes, the same universal question applies: how much is too much? Or, what is the right balance between individual choice and the nanny state?

The tag line for Discovery 2014 is “Let’s Change the Conversation.” What does that mean?

Let’s change the conversation is meant to convey several ideas. It means let’s focus on new topics. But it also means looking at our challenges and opportunities through a new lens. And, it means we want to have a conversation, not just presentations followed by Q & A.

I read somewhere recently that you can look at a conference as a type of ‘clan gathering’ — the coming together of a community of interest. And that’s what we are: a community of experts coming together to address common dilemmas. We have tried to reshape Discovery to reflect that shared pursuit.

The early bird deadline is March 31. See the agenda and register for Discovery 2014 today.