The UK minister for sport and civil society is supporting GVC Holdings’ new responsible gambling campaign, Changing for the Bettor.

The campaign includes a $5m injection of cash into problem gambling research, an adoption of the Senet Group’s markers of harm algorithms and a commitment to keep children’s themes out of the company’s game designs.

The UK’s minister for sports and civil society Mims Davies commented: “Gambling operators have a key role to play in protecting people from harm and identifying potentially risky betting behaviour. Research is essential to progress in this area and GVC's 'Changing for the Bettor' campaign will make an important contribution to tackling problem gambling. We are committed to protecting consumers across the country and are working with industry to create a healthy and more socially responsible sector.”

The GVC campaign is tying together all of the company’s messages with regards to responsible gambling and sending a message to the industry, regulators, politicians and customers that the company is serious about protecting its customers.

GVC chief executive officer Kenneth Alexander told Gaming Intelligence: “Our main objective is to be the most trusted and enjoyable betting operator in the world.”

The bwin side of the business has enjoyed a decade-long relationship with Harvard Medical School’s division on addiction and GVC will invest $5m into a new partnership that will seek to evaluate the effectiveness of algorithms used by GVC and other operators to detect at-risk behaviour, assess the effectiveness of intervention messaging and the impact of operator’s responsible gaming tools.

GVC will provide the Harvard team with access to anonymised player data across a range of its brands, sports betting and gaming products.

Other new initiatives include the launch of the Senet Group’s ‘markers of harm’ algorithms to all UK-facing parts of the business, before rolling it out to the wider GVC group. The company has also committed to ensuring children’s themes do not feature in its game designs.

The industry will hope that the minister’s backing of GVC’s campaign indicates a changing of the political tide, following the battering that it has received in the British media and in Westminster over fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

“I think we are changing attitudes,” Alexander explains. “The industry dealt with FOBTs in a terrible manner. It could have addressed and solved it much, much, much sooner. That would have prevented this from becoming the huge political drama, which it became.

“The industry has taken its medicine. If you look at what the industry is doing online to protect its players, it has made great strides in the past 18 months. There is work still to do but I think we have learned the lessons from FOBTs.”

However, Alexander added that he does not think the situation with FOBTs can compare to what happens online. The chief executive explained that FOBT players were using cash to play, whereas the company has access to all its online players’ personal details and playing history.

“You are comparing night and day with FOBTs and online,” says Alexander. “Online we have absolute and complete data on all our players and as a result can take whatever action is needed to protect players in a much, much more sophisticated and responsible manner than we could with FOBTs.”

The launch of the new responsible gambling campaign follows GVC’s recent admission to the FTSE4Good Index Series, which is designed to measure the performance of companies demonstrating strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices.

London-listed 888 Holdings is the only other gambling provider included in the FTSE4Good Index alongside GVC Holdings.

Shares in GVC Holdings plc. (LSE:GVC) were trading up 0.75 per cent at 674.55 pence per share in London Thursday morning.

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