Jack Symons: “I found myself gambling out of control. Then I decided to stand-up and support the vulnerable”

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Jack Symons

This week we conclude our first round of industry leaders interviews about ‘responsible gaming’, having the pleasure to exchange a few words with Jack Symons.

Co-founder and former CEO of Gamban, Jack is one of the most prominent advocates for Responsible Gaming, while his company has so far helped thousands of people struggling with gambling addiction, effectively blocking their devices from accessing gambling sites and preventing further harmful behaviours.

You can read the interesting interview below:

Jack, what is your personal relationship with gambling?
JS: I started as a customer, with online poker and eventually found myself getting out of control on slots so had to stop.

What is/was your favourite product?
JS: Slots. Especially the Marvel games (Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, etc) and the different slot mechanics (stacked wilds, etc).

Is there something you like about the gambling industry?
JS: Innovation. The vast and varied ecosystem (suppliers, operators, regulation, etc) and the political, economic, social, psychological, technological aspects of the industry.

And what don’t you like about it?
JS: Industry lip service, shifting a disproportionate amount of responsibility to the player with the term ‘Responsible Gambling’ and short-term thinking of some operators just looking to make a quick buck.

Thinking of the next 5-10 years: what do you think will be the next big break-through in the industry?
JS: I don’t think it’s likely to be the typically obvious answer: VR/AR/crypto, etc. I think it’s more likely to be tailored gameplay and personalisation. Maybe more blending of gaming and gambling?

And how do you see the future of casinos and sport betting long-term?
JS: Based on human appetite for gratification I can see it becoming only more immediate. Perhaps more aligned with IoT (Alexa, Google Home, etc)

What has been the biggest challenge so far working in this industry?
JS: My biggest challenge continues to be making sustainable change.

What would you tell young talents that are thinking to start a career in the industry?
JS: There’s a lot of dimensions to this industry so thinking about where to work is almost as important as why you would want to go into this industry.

Who left the strongest impression on you professionally, and why?
JS: Tof. He and I started working together after University and one of the things I respect the most about his approach/style is dedication to community, willingness to roll sleeves up and get hands dirty and the inevitable results of hard work. In his previous business I was pleased to see how his customers were so onboard with his vision.

What do you want your legacy to be?
JS: I would like to be remembered as a protector, a helping hand – someone prepared to stand up and support the vulnerable.

Can you imagine a future without gambling?
JS: No but it may well look different in the future. Regardless of RG, gambling will always exist but its reputation could be affected if more sustainable player protection measures aren’t implemented properly. Done properly, a liberal and well-regulated market with harm prevention measures can continue to exist as a form of entertainment. The characteristics of the products might evolve and blend more with gaming / e-sports.

Do you think companies should do more in the field of Responsible Gaming?
JS: Although people might think I am likely to be anti-industry, I actually don’t think operators and suppliers need to take on the full burden of responsibility. I think there’s a great opportunity for the banking sector and internet service providers to rise up to the challenge and help people when they get out of control.

If you had one sentence to convince world leaders to legalize gambling in their country, what would you tell them?
JS: Deal with the world as it is, not as it should be; people are gambling on illegal, offshore, unregulated platforms anyway. At least provide a safe, regulated and legal product if for no other reason than tax revenue, population protection and combating illegal gambling and the crime that goes with it. (Sorry, more than one sentence!)

Several countries are shifting toward stricter regulations. Do you think the trend will continue?
JS: The issue here is it pushes players to grey markets. I think there needs to be a balance between liberalisation and regulation. Denmark seem to have a good balance.

How to balance the pros and cons of online gambling for long term sustainability?
JS: Unlike terrestrial, online gambling tends to allow players to gamble more discretely which is a problem in and of itself. But there is the added dimension of account-based play which helps track activity.

Do you think gambling ban is a solution for tackling gambling addiction?
JS: Gamban blocks access to all gambling sites/apps and I think for some people (myself included) we’re better off without gambling in our lives.

What advice would you give to current gamblers?
JS: Check in with yourself every now and again. Know the difference between self-compassion and self-indulgence. If that loss was painful, accept the pain and learn from it. Don’t try to ignore it. Remember to keep your feet on the ground if you win! If you feel you are gambling too much, take a break.

Thank you Jack for sharing your thoughts with us
JS: Thank you!

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