February 3, 2015
Day 1 & 2 Summary
The third annual New Horizons in Responsible Gambling conference hit the ground running on Monday with the Canadian Consortium for Gambling Research Symposium – a pre-conference event that featured many of the finest minds in the nation elucidating where the industry currently resides and what the future might hold. Additionally, a bonus workshop – ‘The Gaming Industry: A Strategic Plan for Mitigating Gambling-Related Harm & Enhancing Employee and Workplace’, facilitated by J.P.Girard and Sara Marchese – offered food for thought for service partners committed to protecting and supporting their workforce. J.P’s concluding question – ‘Does it really matter to the industry?’ – crystallized the need to examine this fundamental premise moving forward. The day concluded with a networking reception sponsored by the Canadian Gaming Association and the Canadian Gaming Summit. Mixed with the genial revelry was a plethora of networking, setting the table for much closer post-conference engagement.
Tuesday morning, Honourable Minister for Finance, Michael de Jong, summarized the positive state of responsible gambling efforts in British Columbia, including the recent prevalence study finding of a significant drop in the percentage of BC problem gamblers. Following the Minister, and in the absence of BCLC’s Interim CEO and President Jim Lightbody who was under the weather, the introduction to keynote speaker, Kristen Berman, was performed by VP of Social Responsibility and Communications, Susan Dolinski. Kristen’s keynote delighted and enthralled with her glimpse into the behavioural science behind addiction, which included the age old question: How do we get people to opt in to things that are good for them?. Compelling and thought-provoking, this address expertly set the tone for the ideas exchange to come over the next two days.
The lunch session was captivatingly titled ‘The Great Debate: be it resolved: “That gambling providers should do more to prevent problem gambling”’. The thrust and parry of the teams – Stan Sadinsky QC and Keith Whyte for the Affirmative; Jennifer Keim and Paul Pellizzari for the Negative – entertained and enlightened delegates whilst moderator, outgoing BCLC CSR Director, Paul Smith, ensured the insults were impersonal and the jokes were clean. The spoils of victory, as determined by a show-of-hands vote, went to the Negative. .
The day ended on a high with concurrent presentations from Dr. Richard Wood and Dr. Jessalyn Strauss, respectively examining the challenge of a strategic RG approach to social media and the power of personal narratives in aiding problem gambling recovery. Audiences were absorbed with these two unique explorations of the power inherent in communication.
As we sign off to join the gang at tonight’s Networking Reception generously sponsored by Gateway Casinos, be sure to check back tomorrow evening for an overview of the Wednesday that was!