As we continue our journey on the road to Safer Gambling Week (17th – 23rd October), we stop off to hear from some our industry’s leading suppliers.
Once again, iGamingFuture has brought together some of our industry’s most forward-thinking and influential stakeholders to examine the current state of responsible gambling in our industry and most importantly, discuss what iGaming suppliers can do to further support this campaign going forward, whilst still maintaining growth objectives.
- Oliver Niner, Head of Sales, Pandascore
- Paul Buianov, Founder / CEO, BetCare
- Christophe CASANOVA, COO, Honoré Gaming
- Simon Noble, Head of Champion Sports
- Domenico Mazzola, Director of Sales, Flows
How do responsible gambling requirements impact your business and the solutions/services you provide?
Very specifically, within our technology we have to record and log the age of players that participate in e-sports competitions and tournaments because, depending on the territory, they have quotas as to the participation of players who are under 18 (for example in the UK, some of the U.S. states, Spain and Sweden). That’s responsible gambling in the sense that we have to verify that we know the people taking part in a competition that we offer are legitimately allowed to do so and can’t be influenced.
Since BetCare works in the customer service industry, we do face different conditions that may affect our work. However, one of our primary goals is to take care of our customers even if sometimes it will mean negative outcomes for our business. Any kind of demands and policies, especially such specific ones, makes our labour field full of pitfalls.
Even though Honoré Gaming operates in emerging markets where regulation process is known to be softer than in Europe or in the US, we’ve seen an increasing willingness from the regulators to set up rules to ensure responsible gaming is taken seriously. As a platform provider, we’ve noticed a majority of measures which aim at fighting underage betting which easily understandable when you know median age in some African countries can be as low as 15 years old!
Responsible gambling forms the foundation of everything we do at Champion Sports. It is built into our company culture, as well as our platform, solutions and services. This is because we know that safe gaming is something that our customers take incredibly seriously. Of course, regulations differ from market to market, but there are a number of key policies and requirements that apply to all gaming stakeholders in all markets that, if adhered to, ensure they are meeting the highest ethical standards of operation. This also means a safe user experience is provided to all, and that players – and especially those at the highest risk of problem play – are protected at all times from the potential negative impacts of gambling.
At Champion Sports, we have developed a suite of safe gaming tools and responsible gambling functionality that allow our operator partners to comply with the most stringent requirements while also providing an engaging and entertaining customer experience.
It’s more the reverse, one of the most effective ways that you can create a safer and more sustainable future, is to actively work on reducing harmful gambling patterns by strengthening your RG controls. Flows makes it possible for gaming companies to do just that by enabling them to seamlessly automate their responsible gaming processes, messages and alerts via our no-code innovation technology. For example, with Flows, you can set-up automated workflows to monitor your players behaviour on demand to help you to reduce your self-exclusion and failed deposit attempts or to flagging potential addictive behaviour so that your RG teams can react to these events as they happen in real-time.
With Flows, you can accelerate your delivery to meet the growing responsible, legal, and compliance regulatory demands. For example, in our flow of the week a few weeks back we gave an example of how you can fully automated RG Risk scoring using Flows. Here our technology essentially allows you to segment players based on potential harm indicators and then allows you to automate interactions based on these behavioural indicators.
What are the greatest challenges in this regard and how do you overcome them?
It really is just making sure that you have good, verified data. We make sure that we get all of our data from multiple sources. We don’t rely on one single data source; we rely on multiple strands in order to do that. So, it really is just about making sure you’ve got the verified quality data.
The main challenge is to reveal the true gambling problem and distinguish it from a regular procedure or practice. If we make a mistake, we will lose a customer and it will affect our reputation. On the other hand, we deal with licensed projects and must act according to license requirements to keep the license active and avoid fines. That is why we train BetCare employees to detect PG signs and behaviour and ask appropriate questions to make a final decision fast and correctly.
We pay attention to keywords in the conversation that may hint at problems.
I would say the greater challenges is to adapt features for each jurisdiction. Indeed, even though there is a common willingness from the regulators, measures can vary largely from a country to another. It means the platform provider has to develop and maintain different modules to comply with the regulations
It must be remembered that gambling is seen by most as an entertainment activity. They play to have fun, and they do this while staying completely in control of their wagering activity. Of course, there are some that do struggle to stay in control of their play, and it is these players in particular that responsible gambling protocols and processes are really designed to protect and support. For operators, this means striking the right balance between entertaining the majority and protecting the minority. Of course, this can be easier said than done.
That is why it is important for operators to work with platform providers that have experience when it comes to responsible gambling and offer the systems and tools to protect players, but that also offer compelling online sportsbook and casino solutions. This allows them to provide superior player experiences while also having the safeguards in place to ensure the most vulnerable do not slip through the gaps and are offered the assistance and support they need, long before their gambling activity becomes problematic.
The greatest challenges within the industry in general are in terms of data, having access to true real-time data on demand so that RG teams can respond to events as they happen. In most cases operators are working with data, which is 24 hours old, and so by the time they receive it, it’s already too late to interact. Flows speeds this process up by sending triggers based on live events direct to an operations team for example via slack, allowing the teams to interact straight away.
How do requirements differ in each of the markets you target and how do you ensure compliance in each?
I’ll answer that in reverse: In terms of making sure that we are compliant for each market, we have to have robust technology. We have to make sure that we’re taking as many data points as possible (it’s one of our key USPs as a company) so we pride ourselves on being data-driven, and we pride ourselves on getting as much data as we can at all levels – we don’t really exclude anything. Then it’s a case of using that appropriately and making sure that we gather the requirements from our customers. We’re moving into the U.S. so we’re going to have to make sure our provisions and our requirements are set to that, but really, we rely on having close relationships with our customers who then tell us what they need from the data that we provide in order for it to work effectively. We have 100% faith in our technology.
There’s no significant difference between such requirements as the main goal is to provide the customers with appropriate assistance accordingly to their request. Responsible gambling requirements must be obeyed everywhere, so we follow similar procedures but, of course, we tailor the customer service practices to each market.
As discussed, requirements can vary largely. The most difficult part is in countries where law texts are not explicit regarding measures that have to be taken to be compliant. It can be challenging sometimes to get the proper information. Ensuring compliance in each of the countries in emerging markets implies to have specific compliance roles within the company. This is clearly a new pattern for platform provider operating in emerging countries.
Regulatory requirements are different in all markets and that is why it is crucial that our platform is nimble and flexible to ensure our operator partners are compliant in each of the jurisdictions they target. For example, our platform makes sure that the appropriate customer due diligence process is undertaken, and that the required information is obtained and verified. It also manages individual player activity by taking a risk assessment approach. We work closely with regulators in the markets where our platform is certified (including the UK Gambling Commission) to fully understand the requirements that we as well as our operator partners must adhere to. Our compliance procedures are also recommended by the FATF and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. This further mitigates any risk to their players, as well as their business.
Each market has its own set of regulations which can make the process of entering a market, particularly if it is rewly regulated, really challenging. There is a lot of work involved in ensuring you aheed to all of the necessary requirements. With Flows, you can configure certain regulatory directives and checks to be implemented directly from Flows on demand as and when you need. This makes it much easier to enter a new state or market and keep ahead of regulatory changes.
Does responsible gambling present any opportunities for you and the operators you work with?
Responsible gambling is always good because you always want a high level of integrity and a high level of data quality. I think that improves product, it improves price, and it improves user experience. For us specifically, it doesn’t have any direct impact on ROI for us, but it does mean that it helps us become more appealing because our culture is about making sure we have the best quality data and that we use that data in the best way possible, and that we’re compliant where we need to be.
As we work in a specific branch, we cannot provide our services to all countries. Usually, restrictions are based on local laws, religion, and human factors. But if we show how seriously we take responsible gambling and we ensure others that our purpose is not impoverishment and illegal income but, we could expand our borders and provide services in more countries.
As a platform provider, this is clearly an opportunity as it provides a kind of label to validate the platform.
From an ethical point of view, it is also more comfortable to know some tools allow to monitor operator activity more closely. As an operator point of view, I would say this is an event better opportunity as it makes its business more legitimate and then more valuable.
It allows us to provide a platform that we know delivers highly entertaining gambling experiences while also protecting at-risk players. We all want players to be happy and healthy when engaging with gambling products, and responsible gambling requirements ensure this is the case. We have also ingrained responsible gambling into our company culture and ensure that all members of the team are trained and that safe gaming principles are respected and adhered to. Ultimately, taking a responsible approach both internally and with the operators using our platform allows us to build successful, sustainable businesses for our partners as well as for Champion Sports.
In terms of the set out and ever-changing requirements that always presents a challenge to operators, today they really need to ensure that they are making an effort to actively create a safer and more responsible gaming environment, otherwise they risk hefty fines and a bad reputation. As the requirements change it presents new opportunities for Flows to showcase how it’s possible to overcome these with no-code automation. One of the best things about Flows is that there really is no limit to what you can automate. Our platform was built to be the most agnostic piece of software on the market, that can sit alongside any other piece of technology that a business has to then enable it to innovate freely and without constraint.
How can we strike the right balance between protecting a small number of vulnerable players while not over-burdening the vast majority that gamble responsibly?
That’s on the operator I think – making sure that the quality of the data is always good. That’s where we come in – ensuring that operators offer products that have appropriately high-quality data in their DNA. I think, again, it’s for the operators to make sure that they have decent KYC and that they have an action plan for a territory and that those guidelines are clear from the regulator and from the governments of those countries. I think what happens next in terms of the crypto space and how that impacts the dot com market could be very interesting – I think that’s going to be the challenging space. There’s more and more regulation coming in. More and more big markets are regulating, and how the dot com space adapts, or changes is going to be the key area to make sure that customers are protected.
We tailor our strategy to each market and audience we provide our services to, but communication plays the key role here. Only by asking particular questions can we determine if customers are facing some issues or are aware that gambling is addictive. So in BetCare, perfect communicational skills and a friendly approach to every player are the main go-to strategies to apply in each case.
This an excellent question. To stick to emerging markets, I would say the industry would benefit from some comprehensive studies about irresponsible gambling. It’s more comfortable to know the extent of the issue you want to tackle. So far, there is no such study and regulators are sometimes in the dark when they have to decide which measures has been taken.
It comes down to providing players with the tools they need to stay in control of their play. This includes things like deposit limits, loss limits, session limits and even delays on increasing the financial limits they can set – we find that 24 hours is enough to give players the chance to really think about whether they wish to increase a limit or not. We also need to ensure that players are marketed to responsibly, and that they are properly educated on the subject of gambling harm and what they can do to protect themselves from it. Of course, the most at-risk players are unlikely to set limits, so it is vital to combine this with effective player monitoring and automated interventions in the event their gambling activity shows signs of becoming problematic.
I think the key is in the data and automation. Being able to monitor your players behaviour and events in real-time and actively use this data to set automated triggers based on these events means that you don’t risk missing out on a potential risk. It also ensures that the right interaction, communications and messages are going direct to the right players and at the right time.
From speaking with these industry leaders, it’s clear that the iGaming sector already has great access to the latest, most robust tech, capable of effectively managing Responsible Gambling matters, especially at scale.
What’s now needed to take our industry to the next level, is for operators and regulators to see the true value in this tech so that it can be better adopted across the sector, allowing everyone to benefit from its potential.
Finding the balance between protection and a frictionless customer experience is also a major challenge for our industry but the solution for these lays in data and automation. We look forward to seeing how this can be best deployed throughout industry, taking full advantage of the amazing tools we’re able to have at our disposal going forward.