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In this Q&A, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Play’n GO, Vanessa Arenram, sits down with NEXT.io to discuss the iGaming supplier’s latest sustainability report.

NEXT: What led to the decision to publish your sustainability report publicly this year?

VA: The publishing of the report is the result of the dedication and collective efforts of our global team. At the end of 2023, a mixture of the strategic work we had been doing and the organic development within ESG meant that we had progressed well across all pillars.

With our sector currently at an inflection point, we see an opportunity for the iGaming industry to be recast as one of entertainment. We felt that the time was right to share our progress so far and showcase that ESG and commercial success are not diametrically opposed, and in fact rely on one another.

We firmly believe that the future of our industry is one that puts value in sustainability. Play’n GO is a leader in sustainable iGaming and we want to maximise positive impact by inspiring other companies to join forces so that our industry thrives in the long run. Much of our progress comes down to sustainability having been part of our corporate DNA for many years.

It’s important to also reflect on the journey so far and to celebrate our progress. Releasing our first Sustainability Report is a great way to do just that, as well as to clearly communicate our commitments and ambition for the future.

NEXT: Can you briefly explain Play’n GO’s core sustainability pillars?

VA: We have chosen to focus on Players, Partners, People and the Planet. They represent Play’n GO’s stakeholders, and for us, it’s about how we want to contribute to a sustainable business and industry as well as the impact we, as an organisation, make on the economy, society, and the environment.

The pillars have been aligned with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for a sustainable future and are further detailed with overarching commitments and goals to guide our journey onwards.

NEXT: Why did you choose to build your sustainability plans around these central themes?

For us it’s about our values; Trust, Energy and Quality. The 4 Pillar model provides further context for our values and how we live them out, both internally and externally.

It’s a flexible 360 framework that all teams can connect with in a way that makes sense for their business area and goals. Ultimately, the pillars represent the areas that we care about most at Play’n GO. 

NEXT: Gambling is often considered a ‘vice’ industry – do you think this leaves the sector with an outsized responsibility to give something back?

VA: It’s interesting because this narrative is one that the industry has brought on itself as a result of short-term thinking. As a result of said short-term thinking, we believe we have the opportunity to change that narrative.

There is definitely a need to grow up and mature, but I don’t think there is any more or less need – I think it’s the duty of every company to take steps toward a more sustainable future. As our Report says, the only future is a sustainable one.

NEXT: Can the gambling sector be a force for good in the world?

VA: We absolutely can, but only if we focus on being an entertainment-led industry. We want players to view our services in the same way they view a trip to the movies or the theatre – a place where, yes, they will spend money, but in exchange they will have fun.

This is why we put such an emphasis on the quality of our games – player retention is as important as player acquisition. If we can market ourselves as a genuinely entertaining service provider, where players come to spend their leisure time, we will be a force for good, and we believe we are achieving that currently.

For us to lead on this issue, we accept we will forgo certain revenue streams that are utilised by our competitors. We have made no secret of our disdain for Bonus Buy games, for example, and other predatory game mechanics.

While, in the short-term, our refusal to adapt these features into our games is likely to cost expected revenue, we believe that this approach is not only crucial for the sustainability and future of our industry, but also for the good of our players.

NEXT: Is a sustainability mindset driven from the top down in your organisation, or bottom up, or both?

VA: Definitely both. Our leadership team has resolutely demonstrated and advocated for this mindset in our industry for many years. 

But innovation and practical application is driven from within, having developed through an organic, distributed manner across all departments, and over many years, based on Play’n GO’s values. We began coordinating some of these initiatives a few years ago, gathering everything under one framework.

That has led us to be able to produce a sustainability report with cooperation across the entire organisation, something we’re very proud of.

NEXT: How can you ensure you get buy-in from people right across the business?

VA: This is a hard question to answer because we’ve never had to think about it too much! The trickiest part for me in my role has been gathering all the relevant information from across the business that have contributed to our efforts, and making sure those initiatives are amplified sufficiently. As a business, we feel lucky to work with people who share our values so thoroughly.

NEXT: Tell us about your sustainability plans for the future – what are your biggest ambitions in this area?

VA: It’s really very simple – our ambition is to maintain our position as industry leaders working towards a sustainable future of iGaming. We do this by focusing on entertainment, fun, and quality.

Striving towards an entertainment-focused experience for our players, investing in our partnerships for mutual benefit, ensuring that our people continue to thrive by investing in them and our pioneering Digital First culture, all while taking steps towards a more sustainable planet for all.

Sustainability and ESG is a journey of continuous improvement, and at Play’n GO, we are committed to being a force for good.

Vanessa Arenram is the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Play’n GO. Having gained almost 20 years of experience in the iGaming industry, she leads the development and implementation of the company’s ESG strategy, and played a central role in the co-opting and authoring of Play’n GO’s Sustainability Report, which can be found here.

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