Decelis (Kpmg): 'Why the Esg approach can transform gaming'

09 February 2023 - 09:52

Rachel Decelis, Esg lead at Kpmg Malta, explains the benefits of an approach to this point for gaming companies and for the future of the sector.

Written by Redazione

One of the main themes of the 2023 edition of Ice London, which closes today, February 9, is sustainability, declined from many points of view. A topic that is certainly topical and much debated, to which GiocoNews has dedicated a large special, published in the February issue of the paper magazine (which can be consulted in full at this link), opened by an in-depth analysis with the experts Pieter Remmers – president of Assissa Consultancy Europe and authentic "guru" of the subject, with over thirty years of experience in the field - and Mauro Schiavella, psychotherapist and co-founder of SeaFroG Technology.

Here is the second part with an interview with Rachel Decelis, senior manager and sustainability advisory at Kpmg Malta, who explains the advantages of a sustainability approach for gaming companies and for the future of the sector.


What is meant by Esg and how can it be adopted in gaming?

“Esg, as many of us know, stands for environmental, social and governance, and is a holistic way of looking at the sustainability impacts of a company’s operations. There are in fact a number of material issues for gaming companies to consider when developing and enhancing their sustainability strategies. For instance, at face value, the gaming industry may not seem like one with many environmental impacts. However, if one digs deeper, a key environmental issue for gaming companies is climate impact – including potentially significant carbon emissions created by use of data centres or from business travel. On the social side of things, responsible gaming naturally tends to be at the top of gaming stakeholders’ agenda. Other important social topics include inclusion, diversity and equity, as well as support for local communities. It’s important to note here that Esg goes beyond traditional Corporate social responsibility (Csr) programmes, and therefore community initiatives must start to find their place within companies’ Esg strategies.

Gaming companies tend to consider their own economic performance and financial stability as important. However, other Esg topics such as putting policies and practices in place to prevent corruption and money laundering are also pertinent to remaining within the varying jurisdictional regulatory parameters.”


What concrete benefits it can bring to gaming companies and to the industry?

Esg is a win-win: for society and if utilised wisely can also add value to a firm. It is an important tool in attracting and retaining customers, investors, and employees, especially as such stakeholders increasingly seek out sustainable businesses. It improves relationships across a business’ supply chain, is effective in risk identification, management, and reduction, and may even reduce costs such as those arising through fines or litigation. In addition, there are proven links between certain Esg metrics – such as diversity – and financial performance. However, it is important that when companies leverage Esg to add value, they do so in an authentic manner so as to avoid what is known as ‘greenwashing’. Scrutiny around Esg disclosures is tightening and it is essential to ensure a genuine transformation towards sustainability.”

Are there any companies that have already started their Esg journey?

“The number of companies involved at strategies and reporting level is steadily increasing. At Kpmg we are supporting a number of companies both within gaming and in other sectors such as banking. This push towards sustainability is driven by several factors – including the effects of climate change, stakeholder requirements (including investors, customers and employees) as well as Esg regulations in different jurisdictions. We are seeing different levels of maturity among companies both within the gaming realm and outside of it. For example, several gaming companies have, in the last year or two, published a sustainability report. Typically, these companies would conduct a materiality assessment to decipher what is important to their business and its stakeholders, and to inform their Esg strategy. On the other hand, there are others who are taking more of a wait-and-see approach and still are in the initial phases of their journey.”

Do you see a greater sensitivity to these issues in one territory than in another?

“In my experience, the sensitivity and approach to Esg depends a lot on the type of company and its strategic objectives. Some companies have embedded Esg in their strategy from day one, and others have come to realise its benefits at a later stage. A lot is dependent on the tone at the top and on the direction provided by boards and senior leadership. From a territorial perspective, we are noticing that regulation plays a key role. For instance, across the European Union, the existing Non-Financial Reporting Directive (Nfrd) and the upcoming Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (Csrd) place mandatory Esg reporting requirements on large and listed companies. In this context, we are seeing growing awareness on Esg.

Similarly, outside of the Eu, there is growing awareness due to current or emerging reporting requirements around climate – such as reporting under Tcfd (Taskforce on Climate-related Disclosures) in the Uk, and Sec rules on climate disclosures in the Us.”


What should change to aim for a true and full sustainability of gaming?

“Esg is still a new concept for many, and the approaches undertaken can vary. On the one hand, we are already seeing some high-quality sustainability reports in gaming. However, the level of consistency in Esg reporting is quite low across the sector, both in the issues considered material as well as the metrics reported for each issue. With the emergence of new regulations, including the Corporate sustainability reporting Directive, as well as new Eu and global sustainability reporting standards, and other voluntary Esg initiatives spearheaded by regulators, we expect to start seeing a level of harmonisation across the board to enable more transparent and consistent reporting. As a first step, training and upskilling, particularly at Board and C-suite level on the importance of Esg matters to their company and society will be crucial in order to drive the sector towards sustainability.”


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