Safer Gambling Weekly Round-Up by Dam Mad Media


Jenga - Safer Gambling

GambleAware

GambleAware have released the financial contributions they have received during the first three quarters of the 2021/22 fiscal year, with bet365 topping the list.

UK betting companies are asked to donate 0.1% of their gross gaming yield to GambleAware, with bet365 donating £4.2m during this period. Entain donated £4m and William Hill £1m. It is worth nothing that many of the UK’s biggest operators donate 1% of GGY.

Other top contributors include Petfre (Gibraltar) Limited (£93,714), Unibet UK (£92,000), TSG Interactive Services (£80,000), Betway (£60,200), Playtech (£51,768) and Videoslots (£50,000).

Despite the funds, GambleAware said: “GambleAware continues to call for a mandatory levy to address gambling harms and ensure transparency and consistency across the industry. Having such a system in place would provide the sustainable funding which is vital for the delivery of research, treatment and prevention.”

The money will go towards sustaining the National Gambling Treatment Service (NGTS), the Annual Treatment and Support Survey, and Gambling Education Hubs, as well as helping GambleAware’s four main objectives: raising awareness, battling inequalities, increasing service capacity and delivering greater access to support for gambling-related harm.

Kindred

Kindred released their company figures for Q4 2021 this week, seeing an increase in the percentage of revenue derived from players gambling unsustainably to 4%. This compares with 3.3% in Q3, but represents a reduction compared to the same quarter in 2020, which stood at 4.3%.

However, in the UK, the figure has decreased from 5.5% in Q1 to 4.6% in Q4, which is a reduction of 16%. Kindred hopes that this figure, along with other data, can be used to influence the Government’s ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

It is worth noting that Kindred say they have ‘significantly lower’ risk profiles for higher spending accounts than the risk profiles of accounts which spend at lower levels. Meanwhile, affordability profiling and new partnerships have seen less than 1% of revenue being derived from ‘potentially financially vulnerable accounts’.

Kindred also stated that the risk profile of customers who stopped betting when financial information was requested of them was ‘significantly below’ the average in the UK, which suggests affordability must be approached in a ‘smarter way than imposing blanket document checks’. Affordability checks are one of the hot topics of the Gambling Act review, with this idea having been mooted.

UK General Manager at Kindred Group, Neil Banbury, said: “This is another important step on our Journey to Zero. We are committed to contributing positively to that debate and believe that by providing further data from our books and working together with government and other stakeholders, we can reach a solution to ensure players who need assistance with their betting behaviour receive it.

“We have come a long way at Kindred – with our internal processes helping to inform deposit limits and other safer gambling tools – but we want to continue going further to drive down that figure to 0% by 2023.

“That is why in the coming months we will also be announcing additional measures and programmes that will bring in external views and advice as we continue to strive towards our Journey to Zero.”

Overall, Kindred say the reason for the quarter-on-quarter increase was due to a number of factors including a historically recorded increase in high-risk gambling activity during the Festive Season. Kindred’s withdrawal from the Dutch market was also cited as a factor.

The company also said they had invested more in safer gambling measures in Q4, with the principal aim to secure more early interventions for low-risk problem gamblers through automated processes. The effects seem positive, with 79.2% of players who displayed harmful gambling behaviours showing an improvement in their behaviour post-intervention, which is an increase on the 64.9% reported for Q3.

Speaking about the figures, Kindred chief executive Henrik Tjärnström said: “Despite the share of revenue from harmful gambling increasing this quarter we remain dedicated and focused on our journey towards zero.

“While we are not pleased that the trend remains flat over the last year, we have known from the beginning that we won’t solve this overnight, and we know there is still work to do. We have committed ourselves to this ambition and we will continue to work towards reaching 0% revenue from harmful gambling.”

Gambling Act

Speaking of the review of the Gambling Act, on Monday, The Guardian reported that the publication of the White Paper will be further delayed to May citing “three sources with knowledge of the process”. This was subsequently criticised by the opposition Labour Party.

Greece

Moving to Greece and the Hellenic Gaming Commission has launched a new website, Whisper, that will enable people to report illegal gambling anonymously, including betting websites, affiliates and games. Complainants will also be given the opportunity to supply supporting material to validate a complaint, while they can also report revenue they suspect may have come from illegal gambling operations.

On launch, the Commission urged the public to make use of the new site in order to enhance player safeguarding measures as well as preserve the legal gambling industry in the country.

Hungary

In Hungary, draft legislation has been submitted to the Parliament with the aim of liberalising the betting market, ending the state-run monopoly of Szerencsejáték Zrt.

Bills 2022/66/HU and no. 2022/67/HU are in response to two European Court of Justice decisions in favour of Kindred Group and Sporting Odds. They aim to establish a licensing structure for private operators, with backers of the bills hoping they will become law by next January.

A new regulatory framework is also sought, with one of the primary aims being player safety. The draft legislation states: “In a liberalised online hosting market, several private companies are competing with each other, so it is responsible instead of maximising the principle of gambling, there is a risk of encouraging excessive gambling.

“Therefore, they liberalise remote gambling by emphasising player protection considerations for players. The draft is intended to be implemented by introducing guarantee regulatory elements that protect the interests of players.”

The president of the supervisory body, The Authority of Regulatory Affairs, is set to have regulatory responsibility for the strict policies related to responsible gambling and player protection.

The bills further state: “A high level of protection for players justifies being dangerous or harmful to the player or his environment, preventing and reducing the occurrence of gambling practises.

“New obligations under the draft require service providers to submit an annual player protection action plan to the gambling supervisory authority and that they must report annually.”

Sweden

In Sweden, following the leaching of players to offshore operators, regulator Spelinspektionen has launched their “Games need rules” initiative to encourage people to gamble with licensed bookmakers.

Three short videos narrated by Swedish TV personality Anders Lundin have been uploaded to Spelinspektionen’s social channels and website, containing the key “Spel behöver regler” phrase. They also stress that ‘it can be problematic to play with companies without a Swedish licence’.

The videos feature scenarios where players make up their own rules when playing board games, comparing this to the more serious situation when there is money involved. There is also a longer video anchored by Lundin which explains more.

On the new campaign, Communications Manager Yvonne Hejdenberg, said: “The purpose is to inform the public that there is a choice to make, between gaming companies that have a Swedish licence and gaming companies that do not. The goal is for the public to gain increased knowledge about the benefits of choosing a gaming company with a Swedish licence.”

Meanwhile, the regulator states: “No, we do not require a licence for board games and cheating in these may not be so dangerous. But when playing for money, it is important that gaming companies follow the rules. The Swedish Gambling Authority controls and supervises gaming companies with a Swedish licence.”

Italy

In Italy, it has been reported that the Ministry of the Economy and Finance will oversee a ‘reorganisation plan’ of the Italian gambling market with the aim of introducing new safety measures.

MPs failed to introduce new gambling reforms as part of the country’s 2022 Budget Law, despite general cross-party consensus, and conflict was expected between operators and the Agency of Customs and Monopolies (ADM) this year.

However, the Ministry of the Economy has now submitted ‘a preliminary draft’ detailing its guiding principles for the regulated market, with the key aims of “minimising problem gambling, terminating black market activities and optimising tax incomes from licensed businesses.”

Key to this is the “territorial reorganisation” of the retail sector in Italy, which “must be gradually reduced and concentrated in safe and controlled venues”.

A new centralised player register with which licensed operators and self-exclusion schemes need to be integrated will be the flagship move as part of new ID verification measures.

A reduction in ‘stake and win limits’ is also mooted, while the ADM will be given more power to investigate black market operators in conjunction with the federal police. They will also be allowed to propose new monitoring powers to “stop all forms of illegal gambling, especially those offered via the web by criminals who use IT platforms based outside the country”.

Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament has backed a motion demanding the government ensure advertising by the state-owned TOTO and Holland Casino operators is “more restrained and less appealing” in order to “better protect minors and other consumers against the dangers of gambling and gambling addiction ahead of the coming ban on untargeted gambling advertising.”

A proposed ban on untargeted advertising was introduced by the Lower House in December but is likely to need legislation if it is to be implemented.

DraftKings and Entain

Gambling companies DraftKings and Entain – along with Facebook’s Meta and mobile games developers 89Trillion and Habby – have joined forces to launch the Global Gaming Alliance, a forum aimed at addressing the challenges of the evolving real-money, free-to-play and console gaming market.

The aim is to create an industry that is both fair and sustainable, with their initial step being the publication of a white paper entitled ‘Responsible Gaming is Everyone’s Business’. This calls on companies to adopt best practice in the areas of transparency, player protection and diversity.

The paper highlights there were around 2.9 billion players worldwide at the end of 2021, with revenue of the sector expected to go above $200bn by 2023.

The demographics of gamers is also shifting, with the paper saying: “It seems everybody, young and old, is engaged in play, from educational to social gaming and beyond. So far, the industry has created an effective suite of responsible gaming solutions, from parental controls to self-regulation tools, improved transparency to employee welfare. Now we just need to explore what the next steps are, and how we can work together to achieve even more in this ever-changing landscape.”

Some of the key player protection stances include increased support for gaming employees through training and wellbeing initiatives, with DraftKings’ mandatory responsible gambling training for all new starters and Entain’s Well-Me wellbeing programme both being highlighted.

Irresponsible and excessive consumption of gaming should also be prevented through the use of tools like parental controls, signposting and highlighting to players the tools available to help set limits.

Entain’s head of safer gambling and external affairs Sophie Platt saying: “As an industry we should all make sure that safer gaming is an integral part of our business.

“The safety of customers is core to sustainability, and by sharing best practice, we can raise standards to see this cultural change throughout the wider industry.”

Finally, there was an interesting read from Sharon McFarlane of Digital Footprints in iGB Affiliate this week, where she takes a look at how safer gambling messaging must be considered in all marketing campaigns, including that of operators and affiliates.

Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media