Alderney eGambling's CEO, Susan O'Leary, talks to CEO Today on why regulation and licensing hold the key to good reputation.
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In business, as in life, a reputation can take years to build but seconds to lose. Integrity, transparency and customer confidence; they are badges we all desire to pin to the lapels of our respective companies and corporations. As chief executives, we carry the burden of achieving this.
Of course, building a good reputation is easier said than done, particularly for vice industries such as alcohol, tobacco and, of course, gambling. Ironic, then, that businesses plying their trades in these sectors must lean on their reputations more than most in their quest for success and sustainability.
So, what can CEOs and thought leaders do to bolster the reputations of their companies, and to the benefit of the wider market? How do they prove to customers – both B2B and B2C – that they are operating to the highest possible standards and with the necessary protection measures in place?
It is all about generating awareness. CEOs should regularly attend industry events and conferences, and take part in presentations and panels to spread the word about what they do, how they do it, and, most importantly, the challenges their businesses continue to face and how they are being overcome.
Equally, this can be communicated via the media and professional networks such as LinkedIn. Again, transparency and honesty are important in any interviews with, and articles written by, CEOs. If they have got something wrong, they need to hold up their hands; it’s no good avoiding difficult subjects and challenging questions.
Indeed, think of the most honest person you know, and what qualities make them so trustworthy. Why do you believe what they say? What makes them reliable and credible? The key for businesses and industries looking to solidify their hard-earned reputations lies in being able to embody these characteristics.
The most effective way of doing this is through regulation and licensing. It’s all well and good a CEO saying that his or her company is open and honest, but it takes much more than that to convince customers and consumers – and that’s where a licence from an established regulator adds serious kudos.
Take the global online gambling industry, for example.
In some quarters, gambling is seen a sinister and nefarious. It conjures images of mobsters in smoky dens or shysters operating rigged machines and tables with crooked dealers. Throw the internet into the mix, and it is easy to see why online gambling operators and suppliers have had their work cut out.
Regulation and licensing have helped overcome these hurdles and allowed the sector to establish itself as a leader when it comes to technology, security and protecting players. This is particularly true for know-your-customer (KYC) requirements and anti-money laundering tools.
Holding a permit allows operators to tell their customers – and the wider industry – that they are working to internationally recognised gold standards. It means consumers know they can trust the brands and sites that carry licences when it comes to depositing money and the fairness of the games on offer.
The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), for example, has spent the past 17 years developing an iterating its licensing framework, and is one of the most robust yet flexible regulators in the world. They certify operators and suppliers from Europe to Asia via the United States and Africa.
As a watchdog, they have gone to great lengths to help the online gambling industry build a good reputation, and for those who operate in the sector, to be able to prove they are honest and trustworthy in all aspects of their business from how they register players to the people running the company.
The online gambling industry continues to embrace regulation and licensing, and as new markets open their digital doors to the activity, they do so with the necessary frameworks and compliance requirements in place. This, in turn, is laying the foundations for the long-term success and sustainability of the industry.
The CEOs of gambling operators and suppliers continue to play their part, too. They are responsible for ensuring their companies remain compliant with the licences they hold, and that they operate only in the markets where they are permitted to take wagers from players.
They also do a brilliant job of talking about the trials and tribulations of the sector to those in the business and those outside of it. Their success at this is highlighted by the value of global gambling powerhouses such as Paddy Power Betfair, Playtech and IGT – each of which have billion-dollar-plus market caps and remain hugely attractive to investors.
The online gambling industry has worked hard to build a good reputation, but it can be easily lost – an underage betting scandal, random number generators that are not so random. Regulation and licensing go a long way to stamping this out, which is why those in the hot seat at gambling companies take it so seriously.
It is a mind-set that CEOs from other industries should embrace with equal vigour and commitment.