The betting industry must support customers before gambling becomes a problem”, according to Lyndsay Wright, William Hill’s Director of Strategy, Brand & IR.

In an exclusive interview with SBC News, Wright outlined the significant operating and structural changes William Hill will undertake, as the firm pledges to tackle problem gambling head-on.

“I believe that a crucial first step is facing into the challenge as a company and as an industry. We recognise that we have not taken seriously enough the challenge of problem gambling,” Wright explained.

“For too long, we’ve talked about individual responsibility and small proportions of adults who experience problems. Every type of gambling product has the potential to cause harm to our customers. That is something we have to acknowledge and that harm is something we need to face into.

“So this means widening the aperture of where we should act. Anyone can become at risk of problems with their gambling. But today, no-one has defined what really good, in control, gambling behaviour looks like.

“So we’re going to work hard on how we design our products, how we advertise them and how we interact with customers in ways that help all our customers stay in control. To take a simple example, too many people aren’t aware of the tools that exist to try to help. Just a third are aware of self-exclusion tools and only half are aware of limit-setting.”

Wright also went on to explain the ‘learn out loud’ approach that Hills would be taking with the initiative, as they pledged to share knowledge and findings with industry competitors.

“As we developed the approach we’re taking, we had a mantra internally to ‘learn out loud.’ That means being transparent about our successes and failures – and sharing what works so that others can benefit.

“This isn’t going to be a smooth ride. There will be bumps along the road. For example, when we launched the ambition, there was a lot of support and engagement but also, as expected, some scepticism. It’s so important to us to share what we are doing and what we find. We know that it’s only by doing that that people will see we really mean it.

“So we will continue to meet and discuss with our regulators, other companies and experts on the issue, and we will continue to convene forums to share insight. And as we get further along our journey we’ll publish what we learn.

“We’re one of the largest bookmakers in the UK – and there’s a responsibility that goes with that. We can, and we must tackle harm from gambling. Society expects it, our customers need it and a sustainable future for William Hill depends on it…”