Entain have launched two new initiatives this week, the first extending their responsible gambling initiatives into the world of video gaming and esports.
Expanding their existing cooperation with EPIC Risk Management and partnering with both the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association (CSPPA) and two mental health organisations, they will provide mental health services and education to people potentially at risk from gambling-related harm.
This work will be global in focus and partly done through the Entain Foundation, the company’s non-profit charity arm. The Entain Foundation promotes customer protection through education and support projects, facilitating the company’s drive to keep players safe, which is key to its strategy for sustainability and growth. The aim is to bridge the gap between demand and the availability of care.
Later in the week, Entain launched its ARC initiative. Standing for Advanced Protection and Care, it will see data and analytics employed to determine new behavioural indicators that identify at-risk players.
Over the last three years, protection markers such as frequency of play, length of time of online play and changes in spending habits have been used to determine signs of gambling-related harm, but this new initiative will see the generation of new metrics. These include additional checks on stake fluctuations, erratic play during a single session and indicators as to whether a player might be chasing losses.
Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Chief Executive of Entain, stressed the importance of this new approach: “ARC is fundamental to our future strategy for sustainability and growth.
“We are putting customers first, both by prioritizing their safety through our use of technology to limit individual exposure to risk, whilst also enhancing their experience across all our brands.
“We will do this not only in our traditional markets of sports betting and gaming but also as we grow into new areas, like video gaming and esports as a global entertainment company.”
Entain’s press release on these initiatives can be found here.
The other big news this week came from the financial sector, with the chief executive of digital bank Monzo saying all UK bank account providers should be required to offer a blocking feature for gambling transactions. Monzo were the first financial services company to offer such a tool back in 2018, with more than 275,000 UK customers having used the service since.
Representatives from academia and gambling charities joined forces with TS Anil in writing a letter to Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston as part of the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act. In this letter, they also said gambling companies should be mandated to disclose their bank account details on a central registry. This would enable banks and other providers of financial services to extend their gambling blocks to include bank transfers to gambling operators.
The group also said the government should work with video game publishers on the issue of loot boxes.
In the letter, they said: “Ultimately, the Gambling Act review offers a unique opportunity to create a world-leading self-exclusion framework in the UK to reduce gambling harms, and help consumers gain control of their finances.
“The rise in online gambling, and new ways to pay, requires a robust response from the Government. These small changes, in combination with other, existing self-exclusion tools, would help the UK to create world-leading harm-reduction standards.”
Later in the week, Monzo announced they had formed a partnership with TrueLayer, with the aim of developing an ‘industry-wide universal gambling block’ aimed at the financial services sector.
TrueLayer, a provider of open banking compliance software, is trialling an ‘open banking API’ that can prevent transactions between the providers of financial services (banks, credit cards, e-wallets) and gambling businesses. This will then be offered to all banks to integrate as part of an open API.
“Everyone should have access to a gambling block, regardless of who they bank with – or how they pay,” Monzo said.
“This is relatively simple for banks and open banking providers to put in place but can have a big impact on someone’s well-being. Other banks and open banking providers should follow our lead, to allow gambling blocks to cover non-card payments.”
The discussion around affordability checks in the UK has taken something of a back seat this week, but The British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association (RCA) and the Horsemen’s Group (HG) have all attacked the Gambling Commission’s plans.
The three organisations have said the proposals would have a ‘disastrous’ impact on the finances of the racing industry, particularly as it has been hit so badly by COVID-19.
RCA chief executive David Armstrong said: “Racing is approaching the most critical period since the beginning of the pandemic. With external regulatory issues facing us in the form of the Affordability Review, the Gambling Act Review and Brexit, plus no immediate prospect of race-goers returning, the next six months will be the most crucial period on our recovery journey.”
Racehorse Owners Association chief executive Charlie Liverton added: “The effect of Covid-19 continues to impact British racing, both on and off the racecourse. The potential ramifications of government reviews including the Gambling Act and the Affordability Review are concerning.”
The bodies have said they would work closely with the government, looking at new laws that are fit for the modern age. However, this must be done while also recognizing the economic contribution the betting industry makes to horse racing, and the wider impact this has on rural communities.
Gambling advertising has been in the news this week too, with the Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) and Gaelic Players Association (GPA) urging for a ban on betting adverts during live games in Ireland. Both bodies have already adopted independent bans on betting sponsorship, while in 2020 the GPA spoke with broadcasters regarding the limiting of betting advertisements during live coverage of Gaelic football and hurling.
“That’s something we still will be advocating strongly, in terms of banning advertising during the broadcast of live games,” Jennifer Rogers, the GPA’s Player Welfare Manager, told Irish News.
“It will be prioritised as soon as COVID-19 settles down again. We’re using every opportunity we can to impact change, but our predominant concern is looking after players and making sure the supports are there for them when they need them.”
In related news, just before we went to press, the Labour Party in Ireland has published draft legislation to ban all gambling advertising in the country.
If enacted, the Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021 would ban all gambling advertising apart from sponsorships. Labour are currently in opposition in Ireland, but the Minister for Public Health and Fine Gael TD Frankie Feighan has stated he would support the “gist” of the bill.
In the UK, the Betting and Gaming Council has introduced new guidelines in relation to the promotion of gambling offers and firms on the official social media channels of football clubs.
Last week, 11 English and Scottish professional clubs received a letter from ‘50 former gambling addicts’ urging them to think of the risks of advertising betting companies in such a way. They said addicts may feel ‘distressed’ at seeing such posts and may be ‘encouraged’ to place a bet.
Now, the BGC has introduced a new code of conduct which will apply from 1 March. Calls to action and links to betting sites will be banned from organic tweets on football clubs’ Twitter feeds. The code also bans the display of direct bonuses or odds in organic tweets which cannot be solely aimed at over-18s.
A letter has also been sent to both Facebook and Twitter to urge the introduction of age-gating for all social media accounts so organic posts that contain betting content cannot be seen by minors.
“Football clubs are an important part of the sporting fabric of this country, followed by millions of all ages on social media,” remarked Brigid Simmonds OBE, Chairman of the BGC.
“Our members rightly have a zero-tolerance approach to gambling by under-18s, so as an industry we are understandably concerned that children may be exposed to betting adverts on social media platforms.
“Our new guidelines make clear the standards expected of football clubs when they post gambling promotions on social media, and I look forward to them being put into practice as soon as possible.”
GambleAware launched a new nationwide campaign earlier in the week targeting women. The ‘There, but not There’ initiative is targeted at 18-54-year-olds with the aim of raising awareness of treatment and support services for those suffering from gambling-related harm.
The campaign will run until late March in print, radio and digital media, and forms part of GambleAware’s ‘National Gambling Treatment Services’ strategy for 2021.
YouGov research suggests ‘10% of women in Great Britain experience some level of gambling harm’.
“Following the success of the previous campaign, we are continuing with our targeted approach to make sure women are not overlooked in the drive to raise awareness of gambling treatment and support,” GambleAware Communications and Engagement Director Zoë Osmond said.
“These findings highlight an increase in women suffering from gambling harm, and we hope this campaign will help to signpost those experiencing harms to the help that is available.”
Finally, there was a very interesting piece from Mr Gamble concerning the blueprint for responsible streaming. It contains a five-point plan for how affiliates can stream responsibly, as well as the investment and pitfalls involved in setting up a service. Definitely worth a lunchtime read.
Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media