The gambling industry is one of the most exposed economic sectors. Little understood, but always judged, this segment is kept permanently “in the spotlight”.
As a result of this, the work of those present here is often hampered by prejudice, by alarmist approach promoted in the media and by legislative measures affecting the way the companies function. Eventually, one of the most deeply rooted instincts of the human being is to fear the unknown, to reject what you do not know.
So it’s no exaggeration to say that the activities aimed at optimizing reputation, industry image and finding a correct positioning play a vital role for the survival of companies in the gambling sector.
But what is the right approach? What should be done and how to act those present here to promote an accurate picture of the gambling industry?
By addressing the “4 O”s of marketing services: people, people, people and people” as Richard Dow emphasized. More specifically, by identifying which are the most important audiences addressed by companies in the gambling industry and thinking activities tailored to their peculiarities and needs.
How to handle correctly the relationship with the authorities in order to have a fair and equitable regulation?
One of the issues most important to the operation of any economic sector is the “dialogue with the authorities”, convincing them to consider companies in the gambling industry as a correct and valuable dialogue partner.
But what is not understood, it is automatically rejected and labeled as “dangerous”. Therefore, as in any other interaction when someone does not know you, the first step you need to do is to introduce yourself. Even when the situation is more difficult, and the introduction is refused, creative solutions can be found.
For example, more than five years ago, ROMSLOT “passed” the walls of Parliament using an ingenious method: showing during the plenary committee of a video about the industry of slots which presented the dynamic presence and the specificity of the game as well as clear situations when law was not applicable.
In this way, the association was able to show a small part of the reality of the industry to the law maker, beyond the negative image promoted in the media space. This information action marked the moment when lawmakers began to listen and understand the issues the gambling industry is facing.
It was just the beginning. Throughout its work, the association has developed constant awareness activities to help government officials better understand the characteristics of the field and maintained a regular dialogue with them to help in respecting the legitimate interests of the companies in this field.
Whereas the approach of the association is based on facts, not just words, and as each of us is more willing to cooperate and discuss with those who prove themselves responsible, ROMSLOT released proactively, four years ago, the first initiative of social responsibility in the local gambling industry.
The program entitled “Responsible Gambling” was developed over time, along with Romanian Bookmakers Association, becoming increasingly complex and continues to be the only functional platform in the country which actually helps people who step over the line of entertainment. The program enjoys international recognition and is continuously developing, investing constantly in the latest support tools for the players, in actions to stimulate operators to adopt responsible behavior and also in promoting a positive image of the industry. As proof, the National Office of Gambling became a declared supporter of the program, while the chairman of the competent authority agreed to be “Responsible Gambling” ambassador. As a result of this support and because of the requests received from the market, from the online and offline environment, the program was recently launched in order to support the whole industry.
How can you correctly handle the relationship with the media?
It is said that drama sells the newspaper and the tendency to expose things in an alarmist way is often kept, regardless of industry. But if the subject is more exotic or associated with the concept of “vice”, the greater the tendency to jump to conclusions, to present as isolated incidents the usual “status quo” in the sector.
The inclination to have tabloid approach is even more pronounced when the mode of operation, the specificity and complexity of the matter is not understood. Lack of knowledge often leads to stories or misinterpretations, promoting myths as “truth”, up to negative labels and rejection. For example, on the background of such a context of misunderstanding and automatic rejection of things, some communications about the amount the gambling industry contributed with to the state budget end up being turned into news about vices and about how much money the Romanians squander while gambling.
This is why running information and communication campaigns specifically designed for the media is particularly important. The gambling reputation and the image that the public makes about this industry depend on educating opinion makers.
Considering this and the fact that it was not necessary for the representatives of the media to understand how gambling works, ROMSLOT has cultivated relationships with media representatives and organized press events through which the journalists were taken into the backstage of the industry. It is the case of the seminar “How It’s Made” whose aim was to familiarize them with the manufacturing process of the slot machines and also with the route from the factory until they reach the game halls. Thus, the journalists could find out that the field is heavily regulated, as it is in other economic sectors and that the industry focuses on promoting responsible gambling.
During another activity, called “Las Vegas Night Out”, were addressed some of the most known and appreciated influencers in the online The aim of this campaign was to highlight the fact that slot-machines gambling is a way of relaxation and fun, not only a way of making profits. Also, during the campaign we emphasized on the fact that balance should be also preserved for this way of leisure and, if it passes the limit of responsible gambling, is important for the player to turn to specialists and to specialized programs for counseling, such as “Responsible Gambling”.
Besides this, to stress the importance ROMSLOT attaches to responsible gambling behavior, the association has held permanent information actions addressed to representatives of media related to: incidence of gambling in our country, profile of the Romanian player and the solutions that the “Responsible Gambling” offers to individuals who exceeded the limit game and to their families.
The latest data of this type, intended to debunk circulated myths, were offered to the press last September this year, during a press conference at the Entertainment Arena Expo exhibition, alongside Romanian Bookmakers Association. Information presented on this occasion was obtained after the completion of a research conducted by research company GfK Romania.
How do you talk to the general public?
“Nobody cares what you show, if you show that you don’t care.”
A dynamic industry, such as that of gambling has many features and can be superficially associated with the concept of “vice”. Thus, it may come to be seen with reluctance by members of society, especially amid the multitude of negative articles in the press. Isolated incidents come to be called “permanent state of fact” which induces an altered picture of reality in the collective mentality. Because of this, the general public gets to misjudge the gambling industry, to automatically blame it for all evil and reject any action associated with this sector.
To promote an accurate image and fight in order to dismantle myths about this area, ROMSLOT runs market researches and regularly shares the results of studies conducted with specialized international companies. The association was the first organization in the industry that had initiatives in this direction.
In addition to outreach activities that have the public as ultimate recipient, ROMSLOT permanently carries out communication campaigns to educate people in order to promote an accurate picture of the market and to increase the level of understanding of its characteristics.
Moreover, to definitely prove that gambling is a responsible industry, during every such action, efforts made by the “Responsible Gaming” program to promote responsible gambling behavior among both players and operators are highlighted.
Between words and deeds, people trust more “what it is actually done”. This is why the industry must continue to implement actions meant to protect its customers. Launched solutions to manage delicate situations and helping people who have exceeded the fun-limit are the key element of credibility. Only by this is able to gain the trust of a society reluctant to the industry.
What’s the best way to interact with the players?
“The best advertising is advertising made by satisfied customers” (Philip Kotler). And such customer is, essentially,the one who manage a balance between their personal and professional life and perceives games as a way to relax. A mature approach is ensuring moderate consumption of this type of entertainment and which allows the player to properly manage their income and remain long-term customer of profile companies.
However, those who surpass the limit of fun constitute an issue which the industry needs to be not only aware of, but also concerned with providing solutions for real help. Untreated in its due time, this problem grows in scale, affecting not only the player himself but also his family, his circle of friends, the community and, ultimately, the business. Finally, all these types of audience can become a hostile group and a new source of pressure.
To avoid such delicate situations, the key lies in demonstrating a human approach, because essentially we are talking about a service performed by people for people. As we trust those who are with us in difficult times and prove to be responsible, so the companies must show they are ready to help. It is also why ROMSLOT launched four years ago, the “Responsible Gambling” program (www.jocresponsabil.ro), which was then developed together with Romanian Bookmakers and came to offer a full range of advisory services, while being expanded nationwide.
A client needs to be heard, understood, informed by traditional ways of signaling in the game rooms (posters, leaflets, staff) and helped to overcome difficult situations. All of these will help him determine to keep an accurate perception of the games and a balanced approach, keeping it as a client of the company in the future.
“Any business is a business which provides a service. Does your service put a smile on your client’s face? “, Philip Kotler.