A business ‘politically correct’: the three steps of gaming industry
Gambling is an agelong pastime, it existed in the civilization of ancient Egypt as in Chinese antiquity, so the grandeur and the maturity of the industry is not the result of a cultural element, but of an industrial process and an acceptable policy, and consequently it became a mass practice. Great Britain is the country in the van as regards the liberalization. The rest of Europe maintained a close state control on gambling practically until the end of the twentieth century (in many states is still this way) and the biggest part of the European states would continue to do that if it were not for three basic reasons: the evolution of Internet, the free market of the EU and the desperate need of states for having an additional source of revenue collection as a result of the financial crisis started in 2007 and that is still in progress.
In Great Britain, in the sixties, the gambling legalization has been justified by an utilitarian approach. The utilitarian philosophy, which is fundamental in the Anglo-Saxon world, believes that every action must have the target of the achievement of happiness of the greater number of people or the greatest possible reduction of damage that may occur to most of them.
In the case of gambling legalization it was to reduce the damage, and not the creation of happiness, that in this case would have meant to accept the philosophy of hedonism, which considers the achievement of pleasure the last aim of man.
So, in the modern age, the gaming industry started its industrial journey under a rather defensive and just tolerated omen. The fact that the windows of betting shops in the UK can not be transparent let us understand the level of acceptability of this phenomenon.
But the industry itself has not been able to create a comvincing history of its own existence. In Great Britain the gambling legalization, under an utilitarian philosophical boost clashes with the protestant work ethics, brilliantly described by the philosopher Popper. Gambling in the Catholic Europe clashes with Catholic ethics that considers gaming a hedonistic practice, so a sin.
Obviously the behavior of gaming industry is not unvariyng in all European countries. In Great Britain the industry recognizes the problem of how the gaming phenomenon is perceived. In fact the Gambling Commission was created in 2005, taking the place of the Gaming Board of Great Britain created in the sixties. The Gambling Commission is financed by the gaming industry but is independent from it and is controlled by the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport. The Gambling Commission, besides regulating the industry, prepares every four years the ‘Prevalence Study’, a document that analyzes the prevalence of gaming in the British population. It is particularly careful to protect the weak persons and it is taken very seriously by Parliament.
Besides the aspect of regulation, there is also the problem of perception. The lottery industry has a remarkable success in this field as it is generally perceived in Great Britain, as they say in English, ‘a force for good’, like a charitable organization. The money given to charitable and worthy organizations is at the center of this success. In fact, all the structures created this year for the London Olympic games were created using the money of the National Lottery.
But this is not enough. The industry is still perceived by a large sector of the population and British politics community as a predator industry. This perception has increased in recent years, especially after the arrival of Internet gambling.
As mentioned above, the liberalization of gambling field in the European community in recent years happened after the progressive spreading of internet, of the free exchange of goods and products in the European Union and of the need for resources from various governments as a result of the economic crisis still in progress.
The unregulated web gaming forced many governments trying to control the phenomenon through the regularization. This allowed gambling to become accessible without leaving your home. In addition many gaming companies have had the nerve to challenge the various governments and state monopolies to open markets to trade companies.
Many governments, including the German one, became the liberalization of the field only because they were forced by the European Commission. But the most explosive factor as regards the liberalization was the desperate need for funds of the various European governments (recently also of the American States) caused by the economic crisis of the past five years.
This fact allowed the proliferation of both the terrestrial and the internet gaming activities.
But this explosion of gambling activities has been accompanied by a general view that linked the gambling industry to a predator industry.
This last point is particularly relevant in Italy where we have been a particularly aggressive and fast liberalization of the field, but without creating the right protection for the weak subjects, such as the persons under age.
Let’s look at the English example. In the United Kingdom the protection of weak subjects as regards gambling is a duty of the Gambling Commission, so the approach is purely a regulatory and punitive one, but it is a success. The persons under age involved in gaming activities in the United Kingdom is almost nonexistent but in Italy is not the same. Many researches certifies that a large part of Italian persons under age is involved ing aming activities, but we know that there are limits on this approach. The financial field, regulated like the gambling industry, shown how a purely regulatory approach is not enough. In Italy Aams, the body devoted to control the field, is mainly concerned to protect the tax revenues, so the priority of AAMS is to maximize the tax revenues.
In fact, the other political bodies in Italy, such as regions and municipalities, suffers the proliferation of gaming rooms, and see every innovation, such as videolotteries (VLTs), as a negative fact. Because they are close to the damages caused by the gaming pathologies, without enjoying the taxes coming from gambling, that in Italy now exceeds 10 billion euro per year.
How to go on? First of all the gaming industry should create an organization to analyze the pathologies caused by gaming and take actions through the self-regulations before they come from legislative ways after a burning ‘vox populi’.
The second thing is that the industry must be able to tell to the Italians the jobs that has been created (over 100 thousand) and the technological innovations of Italian gambling that make Italy a country in the van, not only in Europe but also in the world.
At the same time the industry must do more to remove the organized crime that caused a lot of damages, and continues to do it, to the image of the field.