ow are you preparing for the 8th European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues? Which are your expectations?
In fact we are preparing as usual, we have a rather steady audience, a group of people that attend our conferences since we started in Cambridge in 1995. About half of the attendees are new. Our clientele consists of industry representatives, regulators, researchers / academics and organizations dedicated to gambling problems. A real mix, and of course we always hope that they will come back next time. Even though we realize that it is not easy to get as many participants as we had two years ago in Slovenia, we sincerely hope the economic crisis will not influence in the amount of participants.
Which will be the most important objective of the conference?
The main objective of the EASG conferences in general is to achieve that the top people in the industry meet the top researchers and, of course, the regulators, to exchange information and thoughts from different levels and perspectives. That has always been a very important issue within our conferences, and also to give participants the chance to meet each other. The excellent social program (that we keep secret for the time being) will contribute to a lovely atmosphere as well.
Which will be the main topics for this year?
The subtitle of this year's conference is: “Crossroads and roundabouts; the right way forward”. And that is exactly what it is about. From an industry's perspective, especially off line, land based gaming is not doing too well at the moment. From the researchers point of view, is there more than just focus on problem gambling? We will have a great mix in September in Vienna, so I would like to encourage people to send in their registration form, which they can find on our website www.easg.org .
Who will be the keynote speakers?
We will have a number of keynote speakers this year: Philip Vlaemminck, a Belgian lawyer who has an international reputation, Bill Eadington, professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA, looking at the economical perspectives; Franz Wohlfarht, CEO at Novomatic, Mark Grifftiths, Jonathan Parke and Jeffrey Derevensky, who are in the TOP 10 of researchers in the world. Nelson Rose and Connie Jones on responsible gaming features, Francesco Rodana, the Italian regulator and online expert an many more. In total there will be more than 100 presentations.
How many people have already been registered?
So far, more than 150 people have already registered and, as I told you previously, we have a group of assistants that have come to our conferences for more than 10 years.
Which are the principal companies of the gaming industry that have confirmed their presence for the conferences?
These are companies like Novomatic, Bally, IGT, GLI, Austrian Lotteries, Holland Casino, Casino Austria, but also branch organizations like ECA, European Casino Association, EL European Lotteries, Euromat, a slot machine industry representative.
Which are the negative points of the gaming industry in Europe? And the benefits?
This EASG conference is the only real platform where you can meet, talk, exchange information without being accused of doing bad things and do it the wrong way. Of course a lot of attention will be put to Corporate Social Responsibility and Responsible Gaming, as these are keywords these days, and present in almost every discussion these days. Even though in most cases, without being impolite, it is not really a proactive approach.
Do you think that any regulatory or legal changes are needed to improve the industry? Can you name a country that you consider a role model on this issue?
The above means that having just a pro active approach is not probably good enough. It means that we need more measures with regards to a regulatory level as well. Though, I would prefer a pro active approach in which the player can make his own voluntary decisions.
One of the role models to follow, concerning land based casino policies, would be Holland Casino. With regards to the online gaming, Malta-based online companies are doing an excellent job, but most of the online firms so far are not interested and it looks like they need to be forced. Countries like Switzerland, Sweden and a couple more are also focussing on how to prevent gambling problems and who to encourage Responsible play. G4, which stands for Global Gambling Guidance Group, is one of the organizations that is dealing which this topic in the field of certification and accreditation.