THE gambling sector must use technology to protect vulnerable people who may be gambling beyond their means, according to Ian Proctor, the new chief executive of Sky Betting & Gaming.
In his first interview as CEO, Mr Proctor,, said the sector had a moral obligation to consider the needs of customers who might develop a gambling problem.
He also said that Sky Betting & Gaming hoped to hire more staff in Yorkshire, where it already employs 1,500 people.
The Leeds-based company became a unicorn, a term used to describe a billion-pound tech company, during the summer when it was acquired by The Stars Group Inc in a £3.4bn deal.
Mr Proctor acknowledged that “the gambling sector is not the flavour of the month”.
However, he said Richard Flint, Sky Betting & Gaming’s executive chairman, who was previously the company’s chief executive, had been at the forefront of the shift towards responsible gambling.
Mr Proctor added: “Responsible gambling is important to me. It’s an emotive topic at the moment...We (the industry as a whole) have not done ourselves any favours.
“A few years ago, everybody who worked in the industry would have considered that it was up to the customer as an adult to make choices.
“That was the mantra. The shift has been to an almost paternalistic model where there is a moral obligation to think about affordability.
“This is not just about problem gambling. It goes further than that, because people can develop problems over time. We don’t want people to spend beyond their means.
“Working in an online business, the access that we have to customers’ data can help us understand people’s spending patterns. We have got this rich information about customers and that’s the starting point for all of this.”
Technology can be used, for example to impose deposit limits or establish a cooling off period, Mr Proctor said.
It can also provide customers with a daily, weekly or monthly profit or loss account. Mr Proctor, who previously served as chief financial officer at Sky Betting & Gaming, said: “We can use technology to prevent things in a way that people understand.”
He added: “My vision is to build on all the good things we have done. The thing I am most proud of is the company’s continual development of young people. We’ve grown from 300 to 400 people five years ago to 1,500 people in Yorkshire. It’s the place you would like your son or daughter to work.
“That’s the acid test. It cuts through all the rest of the noise.”
Mr Proctor also praised the quality of the graduates emerging from local universities.
He added: “The average age of the staff is around 32-years-old. We’ve taken an average of 40 graduates a year each year over the last few years.
“Leeds is an attractive place to live and work.
“In the eight or nine years that we’ve been here I’ve seen a huge change in Leeds.
“There are a lot of businesses coming to Leeds. It’s got a cosmopolitan feel.
“It’s a very friendly city. It’s especially attractive for young people who want to study and work here.
“Housing is still relatively affordable for young people. That all sets it up well for the future. There’s a great source of talent in the area.”
Mr Proctor added: “There’s a significant market share to be gained, there is still headroom left in the UK. There are new customers coming to the sector.”
He said it was “very exciting “ to be part of a global business and both the Stars Group and Sky Betting & Gaming could learn from each other.