Problem gambling: William Hill admit shortcomings as they launch new campaign
William Hill have admitted they and the wider gambling industry have fallen short of what is expected of them when it comes to tackling the harm caused by gambling and have launched a new approach to the issue to ensure "nobody is harmed by gambling".
Lyndsay Wright has been appointed as the firm's first director of sustainability, adding the role to her existing responsibilities for strategy and investor relations.
She said the response to problem gambling would be critical to their future and outlined a number of commitments Hills were taking, including campaigning for registered play across all products in the industry and driving changes in advertising around live sports.
The move comes following repeated calls from the Gambling Commission for the industry to reduce problem gambling rates and wider criticism of the sector, especially on the subject of television advertising.
"It's actually something we've been working on for about nine months," said Wright. "We're very conscious the company and the industry have seen a meaningful decline over a period of years in how people perceive gambling.
"We needed to ask ourselves some very tough questions about why that is the case, to understand the issue better and how we needed to respond to it.
"We've come out with this ambition that nobody is harmed by gambling, and it's something we want to put down as what we stand for."
The Gambling Commission has said 430,000 people in Britain are problem gamblers, with a further two million at risk of becoming one. Research has also found that for every problem gambler a further six people are affected.
Wright said: "So this is a much broader issue, and us getting it right is critical to the long-term success of William Hill. We're an 84-year-old business and if we want to be here for the next 84 years we have got to do this the right way.
"We want our customers to enjoy gambling and stay gambling for the long term, but that can only mean they can gamble what they can afford.
"We feel we've fallen short of what is expected of us. That is clearly affecting the reputation of the industry and of William Hill, and in all of that our customers need to be kept away from harm."
Wright said Hills would be concentrating on four areas: how they design and market products, how they identify people at risk, how they support those suffering harm, and involving all their staff in addressing the issue of problem gambling.
Wright said: "Whether it is account-based play or a version thereof, we need to find better ways in terms of getting good data in retail for the customer's sake.
"We'll also challenge ourselves over the question of advertising. It's something that has obviously raised a lot of questions, particularly around the World Cup."
A programme of outplacements with problem gambling organisations for staff and an innovation fund to pilot new ideas to promote responsible gambling are also being planned.
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