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Social Responsibility: Simple Notion and Complex Reality

by Responsible Gambling Council | Feb 22, 2013 12:41 PM

Newscan (Vol 15, Issue 7)

On its surface, the notion of social responsibility is not particularly complex. The idea is essentially that a socially responsible organization (or individual) pursues its goals in a sustainable way that contributes to the common good. The most frequently cited examples of the term measure impact on the environment (as in deepwater drilling) or on local people (as in fair-trade coffee).

Today, the concept has been widely adopted in the gaming industry to reflect an increasing focus on the public’s expectation that gambling safeguards such as self-exclusion are in place. “When I began at RGC nearly 15 years ago, the idea of ‘social responsibility’ was not widely discussed in gaming,” says Jon Kelly, CEO of RGC. “If it was, it was typically about basic things like keeping children out of casinos. It’s quite amazing to see how influential the idea has become in a relatively short space of time.”

And the gaming sector is not alone in this adoption of the term. The International Standards Organization published a social responsibility standard (ISO 26000) in 2010. Though the standard serves as guidance only (i.e., it’s not certifiable like other ISO), its existence indicates how widely applied the idea is.

Social Responsibility Defined

Here, according to the ISO, is a definition of social responsibility:

Social responsibility is the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour that

  • contributes to sustainable development, including the health and welfare of society;
  • takes into account the expectations of stakeholders;
  • is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour; and
  • is integrated throughout the organization and practised in its relationships

(source: ISO 26000:2010(en) accessed February 21, 2013)

Examples of Efforts to Put Social Responsibility into Gaming Practice

1. Employee Training

One of the important trends in the sector has been in the area of employee training, i.e., in equipping gaming staff with the capacity and procedures to implement socially responsible practices. RGC’s last Insight Report, for example, outlines a framework for improving the process for responding to gaming patrons with potential gambling problems.

As we will learn about at Discovery 2013, last year Atlantic Lottery worked with SiLabs (formerly Spel Institutet) out of Sweden to build an online SR certification program for its employees. Using an online learning platform, the program focuses on SR as a core competency for all employees, examining economic, social and environmental sustainability at the organization. Look for Johan Brandsten, co-founder of SiLabs, and Kim Wilson from Atlantic Lottery as they present this program at Discovery 2013.

2. Player Analytics

While new gaming technologies have opened up new prevention challenges, to be sure, they have also opened up the capacity to measure and evaluate actual player behaviour—which can allow safeguards to be incorporated directly into the games themselves. While these practical applications are still new, they represent an exciting frontier of social responsibility at work. Playscan and Mentor are two examples of behavioural tracking tools designed to help players based on their actual play—both of which will be presented at Discovery 2013 (by Andreas Holström and Mark Griffiths, respectively). Both offer gaming companies the opportunity to embed social responsibility directly into how they deliver gambling online.

Where SR Meets Personal Responsibility

One of the great challenges of social responsibility lies in the very word responsibility. As the definition states, SR is concerned with the health and welfare of society—but one of the measures of a healthy society is, of course, personal freedom, even if that means making poor decisions. Is the line between individual and corporate responsibility shifting?

Nowhere in gaming is this question more relevant than in the subject of self-exclusion—where there is a delicate balance between corporate responsibility and personal choice over when to exclude, for how long, and what to do when someone breaches their self-imposed ban. This year at Discovery, Dr. Elaine Nuske, from Southern Cross University in Australia, will present preliminary results from a two-year prospective study on issues of personal and corporate responsibility as voiced by self-excluders and gambling counsellors across Queensland.

Join your colleagues in exploring these and other important issues this April at Discovery 2013. The early bird deadline is just 3 weeks away.

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