The Safer Gambling news this week has a strong international flavour so, while we’re still all in lockdown, let’s travel the world and remember when we actually could.
In France, regulator L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) published their ‘Gambling and Confinement’ survey earlier in the week, looking at how lockdowns have affected gambling behaviour.
Market research agency Harris Interactive were involved in the survey, which expanded on the ANJ’s remit to find out more about gambling in France. This time, the focus was on whether there were increased risks associated with lockdown. 3,013 online players who had gambled in 2020 were surveyed.
The data is incredibly granular and highlights that during this period, 22% of new players said their motivation to gamble was ‘having more free time’ while 22% also said it was a ‘desire to fight confinement’s boredom’. Twenty-one percent of new players said they would stop gambling as soon as lockdown was eased.
Of those surveyed overall (new and pre-existing players), 19% said that they wanted to reduce or change their gambling habits, with 57% of players saying they gambled ‘to win money’ and 43% saying it was a ‘force of habit’.
Ten per cent admitted ‘that they had trouble keeping control’, with 52% of respondents saying casino play was overwhelming. Meanwhile, 16% of 18-to-24 and 14% of 25-to-34-year-olds ‘felt a loss of control during the second confinement’.
“The confinement has favoured the arrival of new players to online practices which seem riskier in terms of addiction, or even to online casino sites which are illegal in France,” said ANJ on its findings.
“The ANJ, therefore, wishes to activate various levers to strengthen the methods of combating this illegal offer which presents very strong risks of addiction and endangers the player. In an unprecedented context that could lead to the loss of benchmarks, it also intends to educate young players so that they adopt a recreational practice of sports betting.”
In the United States, it is still Problem Gambling Awareness Month and, like last week, there were a number of stories that went hand-in-hand with the initiative.
In New York, the State Senate passed bill 4207 which obligates the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to create a problem gambling program tailored to those who have self-excluded.
Completing this educational program will be mandatory for anyone to be removed from the self-exclusion lists. The bill will now go to the Assembly Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee and if passed, could become law after gubernatorial assent.
Senator Joseph Addabbo, who introduced the bill, said: “Problem Gambling Awareness Month serves as a reminder that gambling addiction is real and requires effective resources to educate, support and treat individuals.
“As the prospect of legalizing mobile sports betting appears closer than ever, we remain focused on raising public awareness about problem gambling and its negative effects. This legislation will help raise awareness while enhancing self-exclusion services for individuals seeking to confront their issues with problem gambling.”
In other news, FanDuel Group announced a new partnership with Gamban as they continue to build on their safer gambling program.
Gamban’s blocking software will be offered free of charge to all customers who choose to self-exclude from FanDuel’s real-money gaming sites, as well as to those who identify as having a gambling problem. Pending regulatory approval in the US, FanDuel customers who self-exclude will be offered a free subscription to the Gamban service, which blocks users from accessing thousands of gambling websites on multiple devices.
FanDuel Group’s Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, Carolyn Renzin, said: “Educating customers about the importance of gambling responsibly and within limits is a business imperative and ethically the right thing to do.
“We already offer a suite of tools to help customers enjoy sports betting responsibly. Offering Gamban’s software to those customers signaling they need help adds another layer of protection for our customers, our program, and to the industry.”
Jack Symons, the founder of Gamban, added: “This is a massive moment for the industry and one we’ve been pushing to achieve since the launch of Gamban.
“As the largest real money gaming provider in the United States, FanDuel Group is making a statement of intent and throwing down the gauntlet to operators across the industry to offer self-exclusion support for their vulnerable customers.”
On Tuesday, GGB News published an insightful long-read piece by Richard Schuetz on how the US betting industry must try harder on responsible gambling.
The article advocates a more joined up and streamlined approach, saying that current offerings are not simple or convenient, particularly to those who are experiencing a mental health crisis. He cites all of the phone numbers for responsible gambling at the end of advertisements – often one for each state (and of course some states aren’t covered) – as being akin to the side effects which tail US drug commercials.
Furthermore, he says that while Problem Gambling Awareness Month is welcome, there is far less discussion of the issue during the remaining 11 months of the year. Schuetz also highlights his frustration that the National Council on Problem Gambling have to compete for funding with the International Center for Responsible Gambling, citing it as inefficient and a waste of money.
The clearer communication of research outside of the iGaming bubble is also suggested as well as a far greater technological focus, with the use of 800 numbers being an example of how un-evolved the situation is.
Speaking of research and moving over to the United Kingdom, the Action Against Gambling Harm (AAGH) has found that more needs to be done to investigate the levels of gambling-related harm.
The conclusions of the investigation conducted by the Policy Institute at King’s College London show that there is ‘relatively little research on gambling harms in the UK’ when compared to other markets such as the US, Canada and Australia.
There are also gaps in the discussion, particularly in relation to gambling issues amongst women, as well as a lack of a clear definition of what is meant by ‘gambling related harm’.
Despite the view that the ‘feminisation of gambling products and venues by the industry’ has increased the number of women gambling, the AAGH said more research is needed on this issue.
Seema Kennedy OBE, CEO of AAGH, said: “This important study shows how much we still don’t know about gambling and its effects on British society. We hope that these findings will galvanise research institutions and policymakers into commissioning further work to fill the gaps.”
The AAGH also said there is a lack of data on affordability and the financial impact of betting. Furthermore, while the relationship between sports betting and problem gambling has been researched, there are huge gaps in the knowledge when it comes to exploring the harms that can derive from this.
On Monday, YGAM announced a new initiative targeting ethnic minorities in London and the Home Counties with the aim of safeguarding them from gambling-related harm.
Working with TalkGEN CIC and the Red Card Gambling Support Project CIC, while collaborating with Clearview Research, the ‘Preventing Gambling Harms in Diverse Communities’ educational initiative will target 14-24-year-olds through workshops as well as training religious and community leaders.
The stories of those with lived experience of gambling addiction will form a huge part of this two-year pilot.
In the Netherlands, the regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) reminded applicants of their responsibilities ahead of the licensing window opening next Thursday, 1 April.
Publishing their ‘2020 Annual Report’, the standards and laws were meticulously detailed as the Dutch regime will be overhauled by the implementation of the ‘Remote Gambling Act’ (KOA Act). Due diligence will be strict, with corporate conduct, compliance and social responsibility duties robust.
“Ultimately, our work revolves around the interests of the player, of the consumer. A fair market remains an important objective but is above all a means to allow consumers to play safely,” said KSA Chairman René Jansen.
Finally, a couple of long reads, with William Hill releasing their 2020 Sustainability Report, which highlights the improvements they have made to ensure customer safety in the last 12 months.
Thought Leaders of the Week
Meanwhile, iGamingFuture have run two pieces this week on the relationship between affiliates and problem gambling.
Earlier in the week, they sat down for a chat with the Managing Director of BonusFinder.com, Fintan Costello, who explored how regulation is key to sustainability in the affiliate industry as well as advocating a more engaged affiliate/operator relationship.
On Thursday, they published a piece by Seven Star Digital’s Marcus Lawrence, who discussed the mechanism for gambling addiction and what online comparison sites can do to mitigate against gambling-related harm.
Andrew Morgan, Director , Dam Mad Media