Have you seen the photograph of the construction workers having their lunch break sitting on a crossbeam? The famous picture was taken in New York in 1932 and shows a black and white reality: the men are dangling their feet at a height of 256 metres – with no safety harness in sight. This picture is supposed to promote a new skyscraper and the workers seem to enjoy themselves and they look pretty relaxed.
But what happens if one of the workers fell down? Today, safety in the construction industry is set by a strict system of rules – but the picture demonstrates how progress and safety is not always working simultaneously.
As we strive to innovate, produce and shape the future, we tend to forget to prioritise protection and safety. Development sometimes happens so fast that we don’t have time to learn from our past mistakes. But the past, like the picture of the men eating their lunch high up in the sky, tells us to be alert and thoughtful.
In the era of the digital revolution, or evolution as some would say, lotteries have a unique chance to be both alert and thoughtful. With new devices continuously entering the market, technological developments are driving lotteries to expand their services via several channels. And when pursuing these expansion strategies, a foundation of responsibility should lead the way; the operators who offer new forms of lottery games online or via the mobile channel, have a responsibility towards the player. The gambling industry deals with ethical issues and if these issues are not prioritised, the industry will not survive.
When we make decisions in today’s digital era, we are often well informed about our options; indeed, consumer power is an increasing factor that is as apparent in the gambling industry as it in any other consumer-facing sector. To some extent, this is perceived as a threat; a threat to profits due to the increased competition provided by the different alternatives. However, this is a development that we should embrace instead of oppose. Ultimately, if operators offer good consumer protection solutions, they will have a sustainable business as the consumer is more likely to choose the operator who offers them honest value for their time and money.
At some point during their decision making process, consumers will also ask themselves: ‘is this safe?’ The player has a need and desire to understand the risks associated with gambling. Indeed, the player who knowingly plays in what they deem to be a healthy and safe environment is more likely to play for longer compared those who don’t. This argument deals with gambling addiction and problematic gambling and, thus, cannot be overlooked. Proactively combating problem gambling can minimise the potential risks, and that must be the common interest.
Most of us understand that we leave traces behind when we surf the net, and most of us are aware that our gambling data is being collected when we gamble. However, having the requisite tools in place is only the first step in providing adequate care for players. Operators need to be able to act on the results of their monitoring solutions, to avoid cases where players can quite rightly question, “why didn’t you help me when you saw my unhealthy behaviour?”
A solid set of responsible gambling tools must be offered to the player, just like the safety harness in the construction industry or the seatbelt in the car. And the responsibility to minimise harm is with those who offer the product, just as in any other business field.
Responsible gambling tools should be a natural and fundamental element within the overall gambling experience, and it should be offered at the right place at the right time; that is, fully accessible and not hidden away in a corner of the website. A player must have immediate access so that they can use it whenever they feel they need it.
If we look back at the picture from 1932, we can observe the changes and development that have taken place between then and now. We know that the construction workers needed new safety equipment when building larger scale buildings, and this is exactly what lotteries are facing when they move their games and players online. The players need the tools to be able to play in a responsible manner and that’s an essential guideline for new technical innovations. In this field, where the consequences can be significant, progress and safety must work together.