All Eyes on Kindred: Life After Maris & Karim

Responsible Gaming Strategy

Feb 6, 2023

As I watched the growth of responsible gambling and expanded player protection across the gaming industry, there was always one operator who stood tall above the rest.

This was Kindred.

There was a special “it factor” that instantly captured my attention.

I had long called for operators to lean into responsible gambling in a more authentic way, and Kindred was delivering.

It felt like the doors were being opened for the first time to allow outsiders to look around. There was an open house feel where those of us who wanted to see operators take steps for improvement were finally allowed to observe day-to-day work being done by the internal teams to address problem gambling.

It’s a vulnerability most operators go out of their way to avoid, yet Kindred welcomed it.

While everyone else was turning to a new tagline that essentially said the same boring thing or placed all their hopes on making bold (and impossible) promises, Kindred was consistently moving the needle by clearly communicating strategy and implementation. They were showcasing what they WERE doing, not what they were planning to do.

It was new, different, and extremely refreshing. And it was delivered brilliantly by two key members of their team: Maris Catania and Karim Chikh.

This is where things will get interesting.

Both Maris and Karim have now departed Kindred to create their own firm Integrity Analytics, where they will continue to provide their services to the industry. They’ve also recently joined with NoNoxa, creating an impressive team of responsible gambling experts under one roof.

So what will be next for Kindred?

In my view, so much of the brand equity they earned in responsible gambling was tied to Maris and Karim. They were the face, voice, and heart of the campaign and their loss feels quite significant.

Will Kindred be able to fill their shoes while retaining the trust they had begun to earn?

It’s possible. But it won’t be easy. Maris and Karim had developed a level of trust which takes time to build. There just aren’t many candidates that have the same topical expertise and trust.

There’s no filling these shoes. With time, new faces can rise to a similar level, but there will be a drop-off in the near term.

Ultimately, this is a key lesson for any brand looking to build trust and brand equity in responsible gambling and player protection to learn.

Having a rockstar (or two) leading the way is essential for success, but it can’t stop there.

Everyone on your team needs to fully understand the inner workings of the responsible gambling team as well as the impacts player protection has on their own daily work. And then, most importantly, each member of your team needs to be highlighting key player protection aspects of their daily work.

By pushing the messaging beyond the responsible gambling team walls, operators can truly begin to build lasting brand equity in the marketplace.

Show your work and show it from all angles. This is the path toward building lasting brand equity in player protection.

Otherwise, you might wake up one day to find your investment moving on to a new phase of their life.

I expect Maris and Karim to continue to excel.

It will be interesting to see if their former employer is able to do the same.

Jamie combined his professional background as a brand strategist with his experience as a former problem gambler to create dyve. He is also host of The After Gambling Podcast.

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