BGLC’s Vitus Evans – managing ongoing change
What kind of mindset does it take to manage ongoing change?
BGLC Executive Chairman Vitus Evans, considered that back in 2017, when he came as a newcomer into the gaming industry.
A lawyer by profession, he was not new to the business of regulation, having served in local government in the UK before coming to Jamaica, in the early ‘90s. Mind you, the Jamaican business and social environment would not have mirrored those of England, but to Evans, who through long term stints with the Jamaica Agricultural Development Foundation (JADF) and the Jamaica Exporters Association (now merged with the Jamaica Manufacturers Association as the JMEA), had gained a thorough orientation of that Jamaican landscape.
That combined experience has been enough to enable him to take on challenges, executing with his typical quiet flair and simplifying issues as best as possible. Unruffled, he communicates calmly…clearly – manner that is always accompanied with a firm yet gentle touch.
And, with the scope of the Betting Gaming & Lotteries Commission (BGLC), it’s a vital combination. Today’s gaming industry is not simply twice (nor even three times ) as large, in terms of the sheer numbers, as what obtained prior to his arrival. There are close to 30,000 gaming machines and another 30,000 employed within and around horse racing. There are some 2,000 licensees, including 3 lottery operators and 14 licensed gaming operators The industry reaches just about everyone…gamer, punter – and non-gamer alike across the length and breadth of the nation; from enclaves of the elites to the proverbial “little man” (or woman) managing a game terminal (or few), in a bar in the most remote rural hills.
That challenge is compounded by an unspoken yet acknowledged truth: people – especially our Jamaican people, generally want regulations but just don’t like to feel they are the subjects of the said regulation. And this, more than anything else, takes a steady mindset and manner.
“There are multiple stakeholders who need to be kept happy,” he says, “ and not least among them is the horse racing fraternity,” which Evans rightly describes as an important strategic pillar and major contributor to the BGLC operations.
Recognizing this, the organization greatly anticipates the renewal of the BGLC Emancipation Race Day. “We take this very seriously, not just as a corporate social responsibility though we are clearly pleased to do so, but as a vital element of the organization’s overall strategy to support the Horse-Racing Industry.”
The event, he points out, offers not only the expected spectacle and the thrills associated with the public presence, but the prized opportunity to meet with operators and other stakeholders in a more informal setting – where thoughts, concerns, suggestions and experiences might be shared without inhibitions that might attend more formal settings.
In this way, the operators get the reinforcement of the BGLC’s presence as a partner…. “one with its own clear responsibilities, but one which is there to act in an informed and responsible manner,” he said.
As the Government’s regulator of the gaming industry, speaking to diverse audiences, Evans knows the importance of maintaining the distinct balance between a consistent message overlaid with inclusiveness. And this is simply done by meeting each player in the industry where he is.
There are clear signs that this approach is working. Evans says the level of appreciation and interest, both from the general public as well as industry players, has steadily improved. “In our interactions, whether through Town Hall meetings, or more direct outreach, we are seeing a greater level of understanding of the role of the regulator, and we are feeling a sense of greater integration generally,” he says.
The BGLC’s mission, in Evans’s view, is to simplify where needed and to mould, expand and strengthen that regulatory framework apace with the near continuous run of change in technology, in demographics and other critical areas so that the industry can continue to benefit everyone far and wide.
“The task for us , the entire team here at BGLC, is to make all the stakeholders understand that we are here to see the industry grow, because that growth benefits all concerned” he said, adding “but everyone has to have the clear understanding that it’s a shared responsibility so that growth happens within a well-developed and managed framework”.
He smiles calmly, delivering the proverbial last word. “We are here to work with the stakeholders to ensure that process remains in effect…so we can all be better off. ”
Clearly, it’s how best this important issue is simplified.