Tracy Parker: RGC’s ‘meaningful work’ to prepare for Ontario market launch

Tracy Parker of the RGC discussed the preparation ahead of Ontario’s market launch as well as the research that informs its messaging
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In the first of a two-part interview with SBC Americas, Tracy Parker, Director of Standards and Accreditation for the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), discussed the preparation ahead of Ontario’s market-opening last month as well as some of the ‘foundational’ research that informs the Council’s messaging. 

As Canada’s most populous province opened its doors to igaming and online sports betting last month, concerns over problem gambling bubbled underneath the surface. 

Fortunately, the RGC had been undertaking ‘meaningful pre-work’ in terms of research and education to ensure players remain safe whilst enjoying online wagering, according to Parker.

Parker has been with the RGC for the past two years and noted that plenty of vital work has been conducted prior to Ontario’s market launch to ensure player safety when so many new operators have descended upon the jurisdiction. 

“A lot of pre-work (was) done for the opening of the market,” Parker told SBC Americas. “And so RGC had done some research and jurisdictional scans leading up to the launch in Ontario. 

“Using that information and engaging with government departments, government agencies, the agency iGO as well as specific ministries, and being able to share that information and provide some consultation and respond to those calls, to make sure things got off to a great start and set up with a sound structure.” 

Despite the excitement over the igaming market opening and the talk over new technologies that the gambling industry is renowned for embracing, Parker downplayed the role that such tech has in influencing the RGC’s messaging with regards to RG measures. 

She outlined that the Council has provided a lot of player education ‘for over 40 years’ and that, whilst the medium has changed towards the internet, “a lot of the messages to players really stay the same”.

She added: “In terms of it’s a game that should remain fun. Know the signs – know the risks. Those messages are used in a different context, whether it’s sports betting or online gambling or land-based gambling, but at the core, those sorts of tips remain the same.

“The subtleties and the differences can vary in terms of the medium, but at the basic level, they’re very consistent.”

The RGC’s Director of Standards also discussed the ‘foundations’ of the council’s work, highlighting the importance of research when preparing for a market launch. 

The RGC researches, develops and publishes independent best-practice standards for responsible gambling initiatives, which then informs its RG Check initiative in place for the Ontario market. 

On RGC’s research work, Parker remarked: “The foundation of all the work that we do is in the research. So measuring player impact, the trends and evaluating best practices. The research and evaluation piece is so important in terms of that underlying evidence that then says that these are the right standards to have – these are the right practices to put in place.

“Those are the messages and the tips and the tricks for players. Evolving the player campaign to incorporate shifts in the player base. So if you’re talking to a different demographic, you’re needing to use digital tools as opposed to posters and brochures that you might have used in the past. 

“That research helps us segment the messaging and reach out to different, you know, ethnocultural groups, for example. There’s definitely an approach to continuous improvement in the work. Knowing the messages and then how to communicate them is certainly part of the process.”