After a quiet month, it has been an incredibly busy week in the world of Safer Gambling.
Over the last 12 months, there has been a greater desire for the gambling and financial services industries to work more closely together and this week, GambleAware published a report for financial services companies which focuses on how to prevent gambling-related harm.
The report was conducted by GambleAware’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and analysed behavioural datasets to see whether this method can be used to identify signs of harm and thus determine more effective treatments.
The report suggests that bank customer and transactional data can offer important insights into the effectiveness of gambling blocking tools as well as key profiles of particular gamblers.
Monzo’s gambling blocker was one tool cited, with data suggesting that average daily gambling spends tripled in the week before gamblers activated the block. Furthermore, gamblers ranked by HSBC as ‘Very Concerning’ had 35.6 gambling transactions per month on average, compared to 15.6 for those marked as ‘Concerning’ and just 1.2 in the ‘Control’ group.
Dr Simon McNair, Advisor at BIT, said: “Our research with HSBC and Monzo has demonstrated that bank transactional data can be a useful tool in identifying gambling behaviours and the unique profiles of gamblers, but further work is needed to understand how such data can be used robustly.
“Different banks may use different factors, and different thresholds to identify gambling, and future work could look at developing a more standard operating model of how this kind of data should be used to identify those at risk of harm.”
Speaking of surveys, it was reported mid-week that 10% of GAMSTOP users got around their self-exclusions by accessing unlicensed websites.
Of the 1,703 GAMSTOP users participating in the poll, 1,576 said they had a currently active exclusion, with 1,231 saying they were now not gambling at all.
Of the 471 who said they were still gambling in some capacity, the majority did so in person (just over 300) or on sites outside of the UK (just under 200), where GAMSTOP is unavailable.
However, more than 200 did still use UK sites, which is greater than the total who reported they didn’t have an active exclusion in place (127), and this was put down to certain workarounds.
The report said: “We note from our interviews that it is not a safe assumption that those who are continuing to gamble using UK-regulated websites are an indication that GAMSTOP’s blocking system has failed. We are aware of approaches that some consumers have taken to work around GAMSTOP that could not be prevented by the self-exclusion scheme.”
Later in the week, GAMSTOP said that 82% of people who have used their services have stopped or reduced their gambling.
Research agency Sonnet conducted an independent evaluation of player self-exclusion outcomes to obtain this information.
They concluded that 84% of GAMSTOP users in their 3,300+ person survey said they felt more protected from gambling-related harm and that they had control over their gambling.
Meanwhile, 80% of participants reported that GAMSTOP had ‘delivered on their intended outcomes’, whether those were to stop gambling completely, to take a break or to reduce gambling spending.
The evaluation also recommended a number of improvements to the GAMSTOP service, including making it more visible through a broader marketing strategy, the introduction of longer exclusion periods, and improving the referrals process, particularly in relation to concerned family and friends.
The Chief Executive of GAMSTOP, Fiona Palmer, said: “We are grateful to Sonnet for carrying out this very detailed evaluation of the service and are studying their recommendations carefully. We are delighted to know that vulnerable consumers who have registered with GAMSTOP have found it has helped them control their gambling and made a positive impact on their lives.
“The insights in this report are extremely helpful and we welcome the opportunity to look at all suggestions for further improvements to the service, including extending the length of the maximum exclusion period to give them peace of mind that they will benefit from the long-term protection that GAMSTOP provides.”
Moving to Ireland and James Browne, The Minister of State for Justice, has said the forthcoming gambling regulator will be ‘extremely powerful’ as he detailed its scope, with public health and wellbeing being its primary focus. The regulator will also be able to impose fines for non-compliance.
The regulator will be launched by the end of 2021, with ‘comprehensive legislation’ being presented in September. This follows the passing of the ‘Interim Gaming and Lotteries Act’ earlier this year.
Browne said: “It’s really important to understand that it is not simply a regulator but they will have a public health remit as their primary focus in every decision and recommendation they will make.”
There have been calls from some opposition MPs for the timetable to be sped up though, with Irish Labour Party Senator Mark Wall saying Ireland ‘cannot wait that long to ban gambling advertising’. He also criticized the lack of a watershed for the marketing of betting products.
These comments came after the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, said there are ‘serious questions’ regarding gambling advertising in the country.
Higgins recently visited a Tiglin-run gambling addiction centre in Wicklow, and has since said: “I welcome the fact that the debate on sports gambling advertising has now been taken up in the public discourse.
“Earlier this month, having met with people that have overcome addictions of various kinds, I spoke of the scourge of sports gambling and the dangerous gambling advertisements, which continue to cause so much damage to families and individuals.
“When I spoke at Tiglin, I suggested that nobody can accept that the tokenistic ‘small print’ warnings and invitations to be ‘responsible’ are in any way in proportion to the possible damage being inflicted by the lure of sports gambling ads.”
In Singapore, the Ministry of Home Affairs has launched a public consultation until 10 August on updating the country’s gambling laws.
The main aim is to clarify the currently woolly boundary between gambling and gaming, with the introduction of a $100 prize cap for mystery boxes, arcade games and claw machines mooted. Clearer guidelines will also be published on the status of social gambling, both in-person and online.
Another aim is to make the legislation technology-neutral, following in the footsteps of the UK and Australia, so existing and emerging gambling products can be covered. Financial products, which are already regulated elsewhere, will also be carved away from gambling legislation.
The MHA said: “Singapore adopts a strict but practical approach in its regulation of gambling. It is not practical nor desirable in fact, to disallow all forms of gambling, as this will just drive it underground, and cause more law-and-order issues. Instead, we license or exempt some gambling activities, with strict safeguards put in place.
“Our laws governing gambling seek to maintain law and order, and minimise social harm caused by problem gambling.”
In Ukraine, the national register for self-exclusion has been launched by the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL), with players able to apply to be added to the register for a period of between six months and three years.
Family members may also request gamblers be added to the list providing they have relevant supporting evidence of gambling-related harm, while courts can also mandate up to a six-month exclusion period.
An operator must conduct a check against the register when a player visits a gambling establishment.
Moving to Kenya and the Betting Control and Licencing Board (BCLB) has detailed its first guidelines for gambling advertising in the country, which will come into effect immediately.
The strict rules focus on responsible gambling messaging as well as the times during which adverts can be broadcast. Only BCLB licensed operators can advertise and all ads must be approved by the Board before being released to the public. These ads must contain an 18+ age limit and a customer care number, while at least 20% of time should be dedicated to a responsible gambling message.
Finally, there was an exceptional interview in iGamingFuture with the CEO of Gambless, Maurizio Savino, which highlights how far the gambling industry has come and how much work is still yet to do in the area of responsible gambling.
The key insight though was the importance of treating gambling-related harm as a mental health condition. This has particularly been highlighted over the last nine months of being live with the Gambless app, while the future of the service was also discussed.
Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media