The strides being taken in the evolution of attitudes towards responsible gambling within the operators and also the regulators on both sides of the Atlantic were the subject of a recent webinar.

To access the recording, please click here.

Taking part were Maris Catania, head of responsible gambling and research at Kindred, Dr Jennifer Shatley, responsible gaming lead consultant at the University of Nevada, Eric Frank, the CEO at Odds On Compliance and Cait DeBaun, VP for strategic communications and responsibility at the AGA.

All-seeing eyes: Kicking off proceedings, Catania from Kindred noted that with real objective transactional data now available for operators, it means they can “see everything”. Yet, despite having access to how people deposit and go on to play, “it is questionable whether the industry has done enough field work and it need to share more with the academics”.

  • But it’s not just about “doing the research”, Catania added. “It is also up to the industry to apply their learnings in the operational environment.”
  • This is, crucially, what the regulators in countries such as the UK and Sweden are also demanding.
  • Catania added that treatment centres have a “unique set of skills” that can help as well as people with lived experience.
  • “They can sit with your members, with your RG team and they can give advice. What is the best approach and device? That feedback is so unique and so good that can help you really improve what you’re doing.”
  • A striking finding from Kindred’s work is that, when it comes to RG actions such as the setting of voluntary spend limits, players who do so, on average, stay with the site longer as customers.
  • Catania also noted that self-exclusion tool and websites have a benefit across the sector.
  • Self-exclusion apps such as RecoverMe, she adds, are “protecting your peers” as well as your own company. “We’re in this together. It’s not just helping the individual, but also helping the industry.”
  • “How can we use lived experience, treatment centres, even regulators to better understand your customer base,” she added. “It’s one of the first things you learn.”

Translating learnings: On the theme of learnings from other jurisdictions, Shatley from UNLV was keen to stress the extent that while lessons can be learnt from the experiences in different markets, the read-across needed to be considered carefully. “You have to consider cultural differences when you’re comparing harm minimization strategies across international jurisdictions,” she noted.

  • “There are a lot of factors that shape policy,” Shatley added. “So, you’ve got to look at the maturity of the market, the political environment, the culture, the perceptions of the role of government, the media, public sentiment.”
  • She noted the US was a “younger market” with a very different political outlook, and this extended into the realm of gambling where public support for regulating sports-betting was high.
  • DeBaun from the AGA noted, meanwhile, that in this sense, policies on aspects such as RG “need to be able to adapt to environments as that as they are”.
  • She added, though, that the land-based industry in the US had historically been proactive in raising standards.
  • Overall, she suggested the sector in the US would “grow and thrive” as each state and jurisdiction gets to contribute to the debate.

Same but different: But DeBaun also note the key differences between Europe and the US. “As we can judge from our experience, lots of companies who already have been successful and accredited on the European market for a while.”

  • But the US is “a completely different regulatory space”. In the EU, often the regulated space is completely new but the approach is already in place from the regulator.
  • Whereas in the US “we can see that the states open the rules for the industry and the industry stakeholders to regulate the market from within”.
  • She said it might be called a “national best approach”. “Helping operators who have businesses across several US states to meet the requirements while keeping obviously with the specific requirements and cultural specifics of a particular state.”
  • The US, she said, was “intentionally collaborative”.
  • “That’s the only way that you really deliver a protective experience for consumers, because obviously, regulators have their role in upholding integrity and protecting customers and enforcing those rules.
  • “But if it’s created in a vacuum and that vacuum doesn’t include advocates, academics, industry” then problems arise.

Tech transformation: Frank from Odds On Compliance noted that technology could also play a part in advancing the case for RG policies but that jurisdictions would need help with the sheer amount of player data that was now becoming available.

  • “It’s very difficult for every regulatory body across 30 states at this point or 35 states in a couple of years, to stay up to date.”

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