Practical Safer Gambling Solutions

On 24 September 2021, David Clifton moderated the “Practical safer gambling solutions” panel session at the SBC Summit Barcelona 2021 at which his panellists were:

  • Warren Russell, Founder & CEO, W2 Global Data, a leading supplier of KYC, AML and RG solutions,
  • Ian Shanahan, Head of Safer Gambling Partnerships, YGAM and with a long background in the UK casino industry (including 24 years at the Rank Group during 12 of which he worked operationally and for more than 8 of which he managed Responsible Gambling training), and
  • Petronela Kontos, Complaints Team Lead, Casinoguru – a Global Online database of online casinos, with some 12 years’ previous experience as a dealer/Inspector for various land/sea-based casino operators

David opened the session with the following comments:

In April 2019, the CEO of Great Britain’s Gambling Commission said:

“We need to shift the focus from ‘responsible gambling’ to ‘safer gambling’. Responsible gambling suggests the individual customer is principally in charge of keeping themselves safe. By focusing on ‘safer gambling’, we want to emphasise that there is a clear onus on gambling operators to protect their customers”.

Two and a half years later. that focus has shifted not only in the UK but is shifting or has shifted in other parts of Europe too. The new online gambling regulations in Germany and the Netherlands provide examples of that.

But, as usual, different jurisdictions have different rules as we are about to learn

Questions discussed between David and the three panellists during the panel session included the following:

  1. There are numerous Safer Gambling tools available to consumers in some jurisdictions that can help them to control their gambling. Obvious examples include setting time, loss or deposit limits, reality checks, gambling blocking software, payment card blocking with a bank and gambling website blocking tools such as GamBan, using time-outs to suspend play for a short period of time or self-excluding. We may yet see compulsory affordability check tools in the UK in the near future. What have been the biggest strides in giving players more control over their play in the last couple of years?
  2. There will always be differences in the awareness and use of Safer Gambling tools but recent research into how British consumers engage with safer gambling opportunities indicated that awareness of payment card blocking with their bank, first introduced in 2018, had higher levels of awareness than other more established gambling management tools. That research also showed that safer gambling tools are reaching groups at most risk of harm, but the regulator would still like to see “an increased awareness of gambling management tools, and for operators to continue to improve promotion so that customers make the best use of the right tool, at the right time for them”. Which tools are/should be the most useful to players and when is the right time to use different tools?
  3. Let’s turn the previous question around the opposite way. Which safer gambling/player tracking tools are/should be the most useful to operators?
  4. That same research I mentioned before has shown firstly that male and younger gamblers are the groups most likely to engage with Safer Gambling tools but secondly that the use of these tools generally declines with age. Do you think players (and operators) are getting the best out of the tools that are available?
  5. Looked at from a global perspective, by no means all online casinos offer Responsible Gambling tools. There’s a massive inconsistency between Licensing Jurisdictions and their requirements for casinos Do you see that changing, either from an operator’s own sense of social responsibility or because change will be forced on operators by their regulator as evidence of increased gambling related harm becomes apparent?
  6. Let’s adopt the principle that operators should promote Safer Gambling tools in a way that maximises take-up from those that will benefit from them, but at the same time recognise there will always be customers who are experiencing harm but who won’t take up any gambling management tools at all. That’s clearly why it’s important for operators to conduct effective customer interactions so that harm is identified at an early point and appropriate action taken. But what else can operators do to augment/add to player protection in a practical way?
  7. Where does (or should) the burden lay to ensure that operators do add to player protection in a practical way?