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All in Series: Moving Forward from Discovery

November 8, 2021

As I reflect on this year’s Discovery conference, I can’t help but think about the terrific opportunities I had to reconnect with my Canadian and global colleagues. Even though the experience was virtual, I must say there was a strong feeling of camaraderie and connectedness.

Discovery 2021 was about reinvention and reprogramming the way we think and act. A powerful keynote presentation really inspired us to change and do better, not only for the industry, but for the communities we live in. It confirmed that there is tremendous momentum to strengthen and adapt responsible gambling. The conference served as an excellent reminder about the progress we have made over the past three decades. But it was also evident that with the diversification and expansion that is underway globally, and in the industry, means we cannot sit on the sidelines. There is much more that must be done and we all play a part.

But what now? How do we take our collective learnings and shared experiences and apply them to further responsible gambling and safer gambling spaces for all, and where do we start? These are not easy questions to answer.

Coming out of Discovery, I’ve identified a few key drivers of success that will advance responsible gambling and would benefit the industry and society going forward.

Inclusive leadership will no doubt be the way of the future. To address complex issues faced within society, we need to be bold and strategic. This goes for responsible gambling efforts as well. There is a common interest in uniting globally to collaboratively develop solutions that will result in more efficient processes and more sustainable outcomes. I know I will be weaving the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion to evolve, grow and be a more effective leader. To build on this, it’s important to share knowledge and listen to peers and colleagues from around the world to build that multi-faceted perspective that fosters real impact.

By reframing problem gambling to focus on gambling harms more broadly, RG can do so much more. A public health approach rooted in research, evidence and public education to support informed decision making is an area that we are passionate about at RGC. As the gambling industry grows, diversifies and becomes increasingly normalized, how do we combat this? By increasing our understanding of different segments of the population, we can tailor bespoke prevention programming that will resonate and be more effective in conveying RG messaging that resonates with people. . As online gambling becomes more and more popular, we must be more vigilant in educating our youth and young adult populations, about responsible gambling, and putting in place harm prevention strategies and tools. Digital health and resilience will only become more prevalent in conversations about responsible gambling, and is something that we will need to address collectively.

Research is paramount. Leanings from other jurisdictions has shown us the importance of leveraging new and existing data to fuel responsible gambling strategies. The utilization of player data will become instrumental to support the development of evidence-informed and culturally competent responsible gambling standards, programs and practices, especially as Canada opens its doors to increased gambling offerings. A commitment to continuous improvement must be embedded into the evaluation framework from the beginning. Measuring what’s working and what isn’t, at key points along the journey will allow us to be proactive in the way we protect consumers.

My roadmap may not look like yours, but what’s important is that we start somewhere. Even a small step in the right direction can have a huge impact if taken altogether.

What are some drivers of change for you? What themes from Discovery can you implement into your own leadership style?


Shelley White is one of Canada’s foremost visionary leaders, and has dedicated her life and career to empowering organizations that create better futures for thousands of people in their communities. In 2017, she became the new CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC).

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