Blog 53 Gaming

Responsible Gambling tools and how they can help

05 November 2019

As an industry, online gambling is still seen negatively by the national press and the public. This is why it’s so important for leading gaming and betting businesses to drive conversation around Responsible Gambling and show how many tools there are for customers to find advice or help.

Online gambling is one of the most regulated sectors in Europe where any non-compliance results in substantial fines well upwards of £1 million. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has toughened up its stance on operators to comply with their regulations and provide as many tools as possible to prevent problem gambling.

This week is Responsible Gambling Week (RGW) during which the industry players are discussing safer gambling options and providing guidance to their customers. While this conversation can be happening throughout the entire year, RGW are asking everyone in the industry to focus on this topic now to drive more attention.

In this blog, we break down the different signs of problem behaviour and what tools operators have in place to monitor this to make sure customers have all the help they need.

Signs of problem gambling

BeGambleAware has lots of great resources to help people understand how gambling works, what the signs of problem behaviour are and how to find help. You can start by taking this quiz to determine whether you might be at risk.

These are some of the signs of problem gambling behaviour:

  • spending on gambling more than you can afford
  • trying to win back losses
  • borrowing money to gamble
  • neglecting work or family because of gambling
  • feeling depressed
  • hiding your gambling activities

What tools are in place for responsible gambling?

Gambling operators provide numerous tools to prevent risky behaviour to protect their customers and business too.

age verification

Sky Bet age verification message

Earlier this year, more regulation around KYC (know-your-customer) came into place to ensure customer accounts are verified to prevent problem gambling and fraud. Upon registration, customers need to go through an automated identity check. If the system needs more information, for example, if the customer has recently changed address, the customer needs to manually upload their ID and proof of address to confirm this.

paddy poer RG
Paddy Power Responsible Gambling services

Customers can set gambling limits to maintain budget and make sure they don’t go over the set number. Limits can be set on a daily, weekly and monthly period. These limits can be on deposits or losses to restrict the amount entering or leaving the gambling account.

Operators have set reality check pop ups to appear over a certain period to remind customers how long they’ve been on the site and ask whether they want to continue their interaction. This is very useful as time can go very quickly, even if the customer isn’t showing any risk.

If anyone feels like they need to get away from gambling, the time out tool can block the account for a certain period. During this time, the customer is unable to access the account and can only return after the set period.  

Gambling operators are also required to provide self-exclusion tools for anyone that decides to stop gambling for a longer period, starting from a minimum of six months. GAMSTOP is the scheme that takes this one step further and allows customers to self-exclude across all major operators. Once the customer has self-excluded, they will not be able to access any UK licensed operators’ services until the set period has passed.

Customer services are also trained to spot problem behaviour in their interactions, where they can manually override limits, flag customer accounts as at risk and guide them to seek help. With advances in machine learning, some of these interactions and patterns in customer activity can help spot risky behaviour much quicker and notify the operator to proactively help customers. The accounts can be frozen and any fraudulent transactions stopped.

Further developments for Responsible Gambling

There’s already lots of advanced technology in place to help operators monitor customer activities to look for signs of problem behaviour. For example, operators review customer game play, declines, deposits or patterns of increased betting to spot risky behaviour. Despite the many different tools, there’s still lots of work to be done to make gambling safer.  

Currently, it’s quite hard for operators to monitor Responsible Gambling across their land based and online sites for each customer. There’s no guarantee that if someone self-excludes online, they won’t go to their nearest betting shop, and there aren’t any checks for this. So there’s still lots of work to be done to connect the dots between online and offline activity. One option would be asking customers to log into their account with the operator when they enter a store or a casino, however, this could be quite challenging and put off many punters.

There are also other ways of improving customer services too, particularly around complaints. We’ve seen quite a few articles recently where operators make a decision to withdraw payouts due to different rules. This is no doubt upsetting for the customer who thinks they’ve won and want to escalate this. There should be more transparency in terms and conditions to prevent bigger disputes and disappointments. However, making complaints and resolving issues should also be easy.

The UKGC requires operators to be transparent in their rules around disputes, how to open them and track their status. The regulator has approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) third-party providers to offer their services to gambling consumers. This is aimed at providing an easier access to dispute resolution and reducing costs for both parties during the process. ADRs offer dispute handling services and objectively review complaints, taking into consideration evidence from both parties.

The UKGC recently provided additional guidance to ADRs to strengthen their services around responsible gambling. This includes offering more information and clarity around disputes and their outcomes, taking into consideration customer history and vulnerability around gambling, providing good customer service, as well as reviewing whether disputes impact the money laundering regulation. While there are a number of approved ADRs, there could be more automated tools for quicker and easier issue management, such as Resolver.

Overall, the gambling industry has come a long way in terms of offering help and advice to its customers around Responsible Gambling. There are services that customers can use while they’re interacting with an operator, as well as avoiding gambling for a certain time. RGW aims to strengthen this message and help operators promote them. They should definitely be talking more about these activities to generate awareness. Despite this, there are also things to be improved, such as helping customers offline or offering more efficient dispute resolution. However, with the UKGC regularly updating its requirements, the industry is focused on improving their Responsible Gambling services and protecting its customers.

If you'd like to discuss Responsible Gambling services further, please get in touch below.

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