Player Health

The Future of Play: New Horizons Conference 2021

Jamie Wiebe, Ph.D. Director, Player Health, BCLC in Conversation with Keynote Speaker, Futurist Sanjay Khanna


The last twelve months has seen the way we work, live and play change dramatically in light of the global pandemic. At BCLC, we’ve pivoted our approach to business and accelerated our player health response to meet our players’ needs in a quickly changing societal context and entertainment landscape. 

For some individuals, the rapid pace of change, combined with increased isolation, has been difficult. To make it easier for our players to access resources and to keep gambling fun and safe during these challenging times, BCLC has made GameSense Advisors available to players by phone and by online chat through

GameSense Advisors have experience in areas such as mental health, cultural sensitivity and appropriate-response training to support players in a variety of situations. They also assist players by providing information that is essential to making informed decisions and connecting players to appropriate support resources where needed. 

Now is the time to look at ways to move from the “new normal” to a “new future”. At this year’s Ninth Annual New Horizons in Responsible Gambling Conference, our theme, Player Health Reboot: Resetting the Future, embodies both reflection and imagination – with the clear purpose of inspiring success now and in the future. 

Joining us as our keynote speaker is Futurist Sanjay Khanna, an expert in strategic foresight, who will kick-off two days of exciting dialogue by sharing his insights into global change and its implications for cultures of play and innovation in a post-pandemic era.

I had the opportunity to chat with Sanjay recently and ask him some tough questions about the future of the gambling industry and how the concept of play will evolve along with technological innovations and a drive towards greater sustainability. Here’s a preview into my discussion with him, and what he will he talk about at New Horizons.


Q: New Horizons connects industry-leading experts, specialists, and researchers from around the world to find solutions to keep gambling safer and reduce harms. If you could give one piece of advice to the gambling industry, what would it be? 

A: Focus on keeping gambling safer and reducing harms by taking an innovation-led approach to developing new gambling experiences. These should involve a wider array of considerations about experience design, social engagement and evidence-based risk mitigation. There’s massive space for really exciting kinds of innovation that are considerate of people, are thoughtful, and use evidence and research effectively.

Q:  You write that climate change defines us more than we realize by leading to lower earnings, uncertain employment prospects and mental-health burdens. What does the gambling industry need to do today to build resilience?

A: There are five important climate crisis stakeholders: Customers, employees, communities, allied businesses, and governments. For customers and employees, the industry could strive, for example, to attract socially responsible gamblers, who desire digitally and architecturally compelling gambling environments with a mix of exciting engagement and serenity. For communities, allied businesses, and governments, the industry could use social innovation to foster cooperation to address climate risks and build resilience. The industry will also need to take steps to mitigate physical risks of extreme weather and climate change to digital and physical infrastructure assets. From this perspective, two keys to resilience building include developing new physical infrastructures to higher engineering standards, as well as powering operations with renewable and redundant energy systems.

Q: Do you think our concept of play will change?

A: The concept of play won’t change, but where and how the instinct of play is harnessed will expand with further gamification of apps, services, and work, too. I’m concerned, for example, that play will continue to be monetized at scale with competitive rather than cooperative play impulses utterly dominant. Competitive elements of play can be more problematic if chronic economic stressors after the pandemic make people feel more desperate and therefore contribute to increasing individuals’ stress levels. That’s why one pertinent question for gambling innovators is: How might digital and physical gambling experiences be fortified with more creative and cooperative play instincts?

Q: With your future perspective, when it comes to the gambling industry ten years from now, what would be the three trends you would predict based on current conditions?

A: Deeper digitization, more innovative use of virtual reality, augmented reality and Internet of Things technologies to support the development of really interesting and compelling experiences that are part of the gambling experience. Underlining that is what I hope will be a focus on ways the gambling industry might enrich society by emphasizing player health, sustainability and resilience within purpose.

To learn more, join us at New Horizons where Sanjay will further explore concepts of play and innovation as well as the risks associated with data and technological advancements. He will also highlight the need to explore plausible scenarios within which play may occur, while inspiring conference participants to reboot player health by harnessing values of responsible gambling and breakthrough innovation.

New Horizons in Responsible Gambling takes place March 9 and 10, 2021 virtually. Sanjay Khanna’s keynote address kicks things off on March 9. Visit to learn more and register.