This post compares online casino operators' environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.
We've compared five large casino operators from which we have reviewed their 2021 Annual / Sustainability reports. We assessed them according to their overall environmental, social, and governance performance.
This article is the first of many that will attempt to summarise our Tier 2 reviews' highlights and compare the environmental-reported results. Our goal is for this comparison to be as objective as possible. We want our readers to understand that this is a complicated thing to do. Only some companies use standardised methods to report their ESG indicators, and many different data points can be measured and weighed differently. While reviewing, we are updating and fine-tuning our ESG review framework.
We have based our research exclusively on these brands' sustainability public reports and other documentation found on the company's websites. In the future, we will elaborate much deeper. We won't only rely on available literature but also conduct empirical research, for example, through interviews and surveys.
About the casino companies that we compared
The five companies vary significantly; Entain is the largest with more than 25.000 employees, followed by Flutter with more than 20.000 employees. Kindred and Betsson are relatively similar in size, with 2055 and 1800 employees. Aspire Global is the smallest, with 550 employees.
Aspire Global is also different from the other four operators because it doesn't operate its brands similarly. Instead, they are a white-label provider that makes their platform available to other companies to build their brand on. Hence Aspire Global can't be held fully accountable for the brands that operate on its platform.
All of these companies have presented Sustainability reports in 2021, which all include a sustainability framework they have committed to and based on which they take action.
Each operator defines these pillars differently:
|Betsson Group||Entain||Aspire Global||Kindred||Flutter|
|1. Business compliance |
2. Responsible Gaming
3. Employee, social & climate impacts
|1. Only operate in regulated markets|
2. Providing the safest gaming environment for players
3. Pursue the “highest level of Corporate
Invest in people and communities
|1. Environment |
2. Safe user experience
4. Safe digital environment
|1. Responsible Gambling|
2. Maintaining integrity
3. Running a compliant business
4. Being Kindred
5. Contributing to communities
|1. “Play well” which regards responsible gambling|
2. “Work better” focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion
3. “Do more” community support focusing on sport, health and wellbeing, and “tech for good.”
As you can see, all frameworks are similar. They focus on three main areas: compliance/responsible gambling, social responsibility (employees/communities), and environmental/climate action.
These are the commitments these companies have made to the people and the environment. But what are the real targets they've set to achieve them? And what are the results they have accomplished?
We'll go over each of these and compare those targets and results with their sustainability frameworks to see how close (or far) they are from each other.
Casinos environmental performance
The following chart summarises the environmental targets and results of the five companies in this analysis.
The references for the comparison are the following:
1- Climate neutrality: whether the company has offset its emissions. If it says yes, the company has offset 100% of their Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.
2- Emission targets: Measurable goals that the company has set to reduce their overall GHG emissions
3- Emissions reductions: Actual reductions of GHG emissions reported in the sustainability report
4- Waste management: Any action that the company is taking to address this issue
5- Other actions: Any other relevant environmental action
|Climate neutrality||Emissions targets||Emissions reduction||Waste management||Other actions|
|Betsson||Yes||SBT mentioned but not formalised||55% reduction scope 1&2, 15% reduction scope 3 (2030).||Not recorded||The company will review actions related to SDG|
|Entain||By 2035||Committed to SBTi in 2021||15% reduction per employee (2018 baseline)||New recycling |
|E-module about environmental footprint for employees 65% completed|
|Aspire||Yes||No SBTi||Total GHG increased 13%, per employee decreased 11%||Waste recycling according to local schemes||Aligned goals to 6 SDG|
|Flutter||No||SBTi to be set in 2022||Not recorded||By 2023 global |
|No mention of SDG|
|Kindred||Yes||SBTi set in 2020||61.3% purchased energy from renewable sources||All waste is separated for recycling in Kindred's main hubs||Transfer all energy tariffs to renewable energy by 2030|
Social performance includes the company's internal and external actions to improve their employees' (internal) and customers (external) safety and overall well-being.
Some of the improvements we've seen regarding internal actions are:
- Launch of “Well me” program to help employees with personal problems (Entain)
- Paid volunteering days for employees (Flutter)
- New hybrid working model (Kindred)
- Training and career development programs for employees (Aspire)
Some of the results according to available surveys:
- 87% of employees feel that Entain cares about them, 78% would recommend it as a place to work.
- 90% recommend Aspire as an employer, and 87% love the atmosphere.
As can be expected, all companies have a plan to reduce harmful gambling practices:
|Betsson Group||Entain||Aspire Global||Kindred||Flutter|
|Participated in 7 conferences on responsible gambling and has accreditation from the 4G||Launch of Advanced Responsibility & Care (“ARC”) programme to use technology to proactively intervene to prevent betting and gaming-related harm.||Has collaborated with universities to research, educate and treat gambling issues, implemented clear labelling that informs players on the risks of gambling and helps them to recognise emerging undesirable habits.||In February of 2021, Kindred became the first operator to disclose their share of the revenue from high-risk clients and establish a road map to achieve 0 revenue from these customers in 2023.||Has set a goal to have a minimum of 50% of its customers use at least one responsible gaming tool by 2026 and 75% by 2030.|
Governance is the hardest part of all three ESG topics to analyse and draw conclusions from.
Governance concerns business ethics that influence decision-making and strategy. Any company can make claims about its intent. Still, it is through actual environmental and social performance that this is measured. The goal of most companies is profit maximisation. Especially publicly owned companies need to ensure the interest of their shareholders.
Governance actions from companies include compliance and other policies that companies have committed to improve their overall sustainability performance.
From the available date, we have been able to deduct the following actions/commitments:
|Betsson Group||Entain||Aspire Global||Kindred||Flutter|
|Betsson has given high priority to:|
Over the time discussed in this report, Betsson has not received any fines and has had 0 (confirmed) corruption cases.
Approximately two-thirds of the employees have signed the company's code of conduct and received (annual) training regarding money laundry, responsible gaming and GDPR.
|Entain is focused on offering its services only in regulated markets by 2023 (markets where the government or other organisations have a higher level of oversight and control)|
Bonus schemes are tied to performance related to safer betting and gaming
1% of GGY (gross gaming yield) will be used to fund Research, Education and Treatment by 2022.
|Has created a sustainability committee composed of board members and higher management members|
Has implemented GRI reporting
Aligned their sustainability goals with six of the UN's SDGs, namely ‘good health and wellbeing, ‘gender equality, ‘affordable and clean energy', ‘industry, innovation and infrastructure, ‘peace justice and strong institutions and ‘partnerships for the goals'.
|Kindred supports many international commitments, including:|
UN sustainable goals
Paris Climate Agreement
CDP Disclosure Insight Action
Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
European Gaming and Betting Association's (EGBA) Code of Conduct on Responsible Marketing
International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA)
|The goals of their positive impact plan are not ambitious and include the obvious commitments to responsible gambling, inclusiveness and diversity at the work floor, and supporting local communities.|
Suspicious actions can be related to a notorious tax avoidance technique.
Our research in this article has only seen the tip of the iceberg. More investigation and comparison is necessary to come to a fair conclusion about who is the most sustainable.
At the moment, we are a small startup with limited resources but we have big ambitions. This review is our first attempt to bring transparency to the industry and our goal is to give an objective statement about who is the most sustainable. We have just started walking down the path to that goal and we learn by doing. We want to participate in the conversation in which we represent both the interest of players and societies at large.
With this in mind, let's summarise what we have learned.
- All five companies have reported on their 2021 sustainability performance.
- When evaluating a company's sustainability, targets must be measurable and set a date for its accomplishment.
We found Kindred & Betsson's environmental targets to be the most ambitious regarding emission reductions. Kindred has already set an SBT, while Aspire, Betsson, and Entain plan to do so in 2022. There have yet to be any comments in Aspire's report regarding setting an SBT soon.
Out of the five brands, according to the data reviewed, we found that the top operators when it comes to environmental performance are Aspire Global, Kindred, and Betsson.
All brands actively address internal and external social issues and invest part of their revenue in responsible gambling initiatives. However, the only operator that has set a road map to achieving 0 revenue from high-risk customers, or harmful gambling, in 2023 is Kindred. Also, they are proactive in the industry towards ESG and have been organising the annual Sustainability in Gambling conference since 2016. Therefore based on our current knowledge, from these five operators, we give the highest score to Kindred when it comes to the social aspect of ESG.
On Linkedin, we have found dedicated roles dealing with ESG in each company. This is further indication that each of these companies have given a certain amount of importance to ESG. We are reaching out to these people and hope we can soon have a conversation with each of them and talk about the company's values, views on ESG, and what that means for the future.
Our final verdict: which company seems to give the most importance to sustainability?
We haven't chosen a clear winner. Overall, all companies seem to be working on ESG and improving but they still have a long way to go to earn our 5-star sustainable casino rating. We hope companies with the best sustainability results can set the course for those still figuring it out. We are entering a new era where consumers are more and more focused on the social and environmental performance of companies they choose for their everyday activities.
At this point, we give Flutter the lowest score compared to the other brands. This is because we have not found recorded data on certain aspects of our environmental analysis where the other companies do. Also, the fact that part of the company is registered in two different tax jurisdictions raises questions. It is something that we would need to investigate further.
In the following months, we will review more igaming businesses and write more tier 2 sustainability reviews and accordingly Tier 3 reviews (read more about how we rate). And we won't only look at casino operators but also software providers and gaming authorities.