As online gambling steps out of the shadows and into a more mainstream role as a hobby or pastime, there is a real concern about the impact that easy access to games of chance will have on individuals who are prone to addictive behavioural patterns.
One of the most encouraging action plans in this regard has been the Kindred Groups vision of deriving 0% of their income from harmful gambling by 2023.
Inspired by their vision we have delved into what it would take in real terms of all online casino and betting operators to pursue a zero harm gambling industry standard.
The Role of Safer Gambling
One of the key building blocks for the online gambling industry to achieve zero revenue from harmful gambling is more innovations, information, and creativity in addressing compulsive behaviours and promoting safer gambling.
By ensuring that gambling enthusiasts, their friends and their families understand the triggers that can lead to gambling addiction and are educated in how to address the issue in its early stages, the marketplace will create a strong foundation for zero harm gambling.
This could mean regulated jurisdictions including education on gambling and compulsive behaviours at a school level, requiring companies to have information on the topic available to all staff, upskilling counsellors (private and corporate) to specifically address gambling-related patients and enforcing more mainstream media visibility of the topic.
An informed people are an empowered people after all, and the key to dealing with any addiction is a mindset shift from passive victim to active overcomer.
What Tools Will Operators Need to Employ
Understanding and responding to user behaviours will be key to gambling operators nipping early addictive behaviour in the proverbial bud. This will however require them to invest in not only training their staff but also in an effective suite of Customer Management tools.
Maris Catania, Head of Responsible Gaming & Research at Kindred said:
“We understand that sometimes, the people that need these Responsible Gambling tools the most, might not use them. Therefore, we have invested in a proactive Player Safety system called PS-EDS (Player Safety – Early Detection System) that investigates players’ behaviour and alerts us when someone is approaching a potentially harmful stage of gambling.”
This type of intelligence-driven early warning system is a great start for gambling sites looking to support their players in gambling smart. These are the types of interventions that can lead to early access to treatment and saves both the person and the company from the financial risks associated with compulsive gambling.
In addition to these operator-facing tools, there are several player-facing tools that are a must-have for any safer gambling-friendly site:
- Setting deposit limits
- Setting time-on-site limits
- Limited time-out settings
- Longer-term self-exclusions
By empowering both players and operators the field is prepped for addressing compulsive behaviours in players – which will ultimately lead to all revenues at the casino being from safe and secure players.
Very Real Risk vs Reward
While the initial investment in training, new technology and even above the line advertising campaigns promoting safer gambling can seem costly it is the best way for online casinos and betting sites to ensure a sustainable industry.
At present chargebacks, fraudulent transactions and legal cases involving funding addictive gambling behaviours are very costly for operators. Not to mention the risk an operator runs of having their banking accounts closed due to strikes and the penalties faced by regulators should the casino be found to have failed in its duty of care.
Not to mention the risk of having heavy-handed regulators begin to “fix the problem” of gambling harm by creating draconian laws and punishing operators with ever-increasing fees as we have seen in recent months in the UK.
By getting ahead of the problem in a proactive manner, operators prove to regulators that they have the issue well-in-hand and can self-manage, which is always a better scenario for both the operators and the players they serve.