The principle of responsibility and the concept of sustainable business have a long tradition in the companies in the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group. Ensuring that Austrian society benefits from gambling has been an integral part of our corporate philosophy from the very outset and was written into Casinos Austria AG’s Articles of Association when the company was founded back in 1967.
We have continually developed this idea over the years, making Casinos Austria a pioneer of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Austria – a concept that is now an indispensable element of business life.
CSR has long since rid itself of its reputation of being an “opportunistic commitment”. Corporate social responsibility not only benefits the companies that embrace it, it also helps society as a whole: if the notion of sustainability is embraced consistently, it can become a competitive advantage and a driver of innovation – for companies and society alike.
In the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group, the principle of responsibility permeates all our business units and indeed our entire value chain. In our core business, gaming, we have been a clear leader in the fields of responsible gaming and compliance for many years.
We have been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2011 and are committed to the sustainability goals of this worldwide initiative. These include not only environmental protection and the battle against corruption but also respect and support for human rights and genuine concern for employment and labor rights. Our active engagement in the UN Global Compact also serves to document our international efforts to promote and advocate corporate social responsibility.
The importance attached to the notion of corporate social responsibility has grown significantly in Austria over the last two years. A visible sign of this trend was the introduction of legislation to implement EU Directive 2014/95. Austria’s new Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act (Nachhaltigkeits- und Diversitätsverbesserungsgezetz or NaDiVeG for short), which came into force at the end of 2016, makes it compulsory for certain companies to publish non-financial and diversity-related information. CSR has thus become a generally accepted aspect of corporate management and communication.
At present, this requirement does not apply to all companies in Austria. Yet while the companies in the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group fall into the category of those who are not subject to this law, we nonetheless adhere strictly to its provisions and indeed already exceed its requirements in many areas. This CSR Report serves here as a case in point.
Throughout 2017, we significantly expanded our CSR activities. We implemented a CSR management system and developed our “People-Gaming-Environment” CSR Strategy 2020, thereby mapping out our path for the future. Clear goals and indicators in six designated action fields set our CSR course for the next three years. In all our activities in this regard, we remain constantly mindful of the so-called precautionary principle.
This is the first digital-only CSR Report published by the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group: henceforth, we will dispense with the printed version of our CSR Report and publish the relevant information in a new, clearer format on the internet.
All the approaches found in CSR theory concur that the first and most important area in any sustainability strategy is a company’s own core business. This principle is reflected in the GRI Standards, the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the afore-mentioned Austrian NaDiVeG.
Accordingly, we have set up a CSR management system that is based on the Austrian CSR Standard ONR 192500. This system was certified in 2017 by the Austrian Standards Institute.
Our focus thereby lies on the economic, environmental and social effects – in the short, medium and longer term. The key criterion for the sustainability of our core business is responsible gaming. We have a stringent, seamless system and processes in place to ensure that all the gaming services and products we offer meet this criterion – from the design of our games to the monitoring of individual gaming behavior and the provision of regular training for our staff.
Every year since 2004, the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group has organized a dedicated responsible gaming conference known as the Responsible Gaming Academy (RGA) – and 2017 was no exception. On 11 May, international experts once again met in Vienna to participate in this event. During the 2017 RGA, we held our third Stakeholder Dialog, which this year focused on the verification of measures to prevent gambling addiction. Our Stakeholder Dialog establishes an opportunity for direct exchange between experts in our group and representatives of the regulatory authorities, gambling addiction support organizations, addiction experts, addicts, scientists and researchers.
When it comes to responsible gaming, it is also important to remember that the battle against the potential risks of gambling – from gambling addiction through to money laundering and organized crime – requires not only responsible action by gambling operators but also strict legislation and its stringent enforcement. In this regard, there were a number of important regulatory developments in 2017. Of particular note from an Austrian perspective are the efforts of the Financial Police to clamp down on illegal slot machine gaming or the political debate on IP blocking for online gaming sites without a license to operate in the country.
A report on sustainability also needs to consider the economic aspect of a company’s business, which in our case developed positively in 2017. Indeed, for the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group and our 4,200 employees, the 2017 business year was the most successful in our corporate history. This was reflected not only in our consolidated group revenues of over 4 billion euros but also in the record amount of taxes we paid to the Austrian state: with tax payments in 2017 of 622 million euros, our group was once again one of the country’s biggest taxpayers.
There was also a change in our shareholder structure. In essence, this resulted in a transfer of shareholdings from financial investors in the Austrian banking and insurance sector to national and international gambling operators.
The effects of our business activities on the environment are an important aspect of our sustainability strategy. While the impact that casinos, lotteries and sports betting have on the environment is not comparable with that of a manufacturing company, environmental and climate protection still plays an important role in our complex supply chains.
As leading Austrian tourism enterprises, our casinos and WINWIN outlets cater to many thousands of guests each year. Austrian Lotteries operates an extensive sales network. This raises many environmental challenges, the majority of which relate to sustainable procurement, the optimization of our energy and water consumption and waste disposal.
We already enjoy a number of long-standing partnerships with nature conservation and environmental protection organizations. But we have also made it our goal for the coming years to raise even greater awareness of environmental and climate protection within our own group.
Responsibility to society is also demonstrated at the Casinos Austria and Austrian Lotteries Group through our diverse commitment to and support for arts and culture, science and research, sport and social initiatives.
As a leading Austrian tourism company, promoting tourism in the country is likewise part of our responsibility. Numerous projects in 2017 reflect our engagement for this pillar of our commitment to society. We are fully aware that our own business can only flourish in a stable society. Our corresponding sponsoring and support program is by no means aimed just at building our reputation or advertising our products and services. We genuinely seek to support society in its diversity and development.
We have set ourselves a series of goals to achieve by 2020. Achieving these goals will reinforce our position in the market and further expand our sustainable approach to business. Examples here include:
- Any new games that we introduce will be carefully checked for their social acceptability and compatibility.
- We held our successful annual Responsible Gaming Academy and Stakeholder Dialog events again in 2018 and will continue to do so in the years to come.
- Our innovative corporate volunteering program was extended from 2018 onwards. Each member of our staff can now spend five days a year on full pay doing voluntary work for non-profit organizations or social initiatives.
- In 2018, we are introducing an anonymous whistleblower system to augment our compliance management system.
- To strengthen our cooperation with other legal and licensed gaming operators in Europe, we will expand and consolidate our participation in international associations and bodies. In doing so, we will support European and national lawmakers in the enforcement of applicable gaming law.
Our engagement in the field of corporate social responsibility will in future also be more than just a service to society. In line with the thinking behind the CSR concept, our own company should also profit from our high CSR standards along with our customers and society in general.
Strong social responsibility provides a company in the gaming industry with a competitive advantage; our certified standards give our customers and guests security and confidence.
In this sense, this CSR Report both documents our activities and provides an outlook for the future. It demonstrates how we have embraced our social responsibility in 2017 and the goals we have set ourselves for the future.