Problem Gambling News — Weekly Round-up for August 18, 2017

Gambleaware Punts New Software To Combat Problem Gambling

Charity has invested GBP 100,000 in research study

The problem gambling charity Gambleaware has invested GBP 100,000 in a research study which indicates that player data collected by operators could be used to more accurately identify and flag punters in danger of becoming problem gamblers.

Software developed using this sort of detailed information on playing patterns could become a valuable tool for operators, enabling them to warn players showing signs of compulsive betting.

The research study will form the basis of a new push to create complex algorithms which identify “risky” behaviour and prompt intervention by the UK’s 1,074 licensed operators, the Herald Scotland newspaper reported over the weekend.

Iain Corby, the charity’s deputy chief executive, told the newspaper:

“Around 40 percent of gambling is now done online and of course 80 percent of the population now have smart phones so, they are carrying around a casino in their pockets. Clearly, all forms of gambling are risky but the real challenge with online gambling is there is nobody physically supervising you. There is nobody watching your reactions or monitoring your emotions. So, detecting when somebody is getting into trouble is a lot more difficult.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research which we’ll be publishing this week looking at whether the data that gambling companies already hold about their customers in terms of how they play online – their play data – can give us any clues to help spot people before they get into trouble.

“Companies do have a lot of data about how and when people are betting and how they react to wins and losses which will give a really good idea if there should be concern about someone. Then they could do something for those customers such as send them a message or give them a call to make sure they don’t drift towards a gambling addiction.

“We’ve spent several hundreds of thousands of pounds on that research which will be a foundation of knowledge on which operators will be able to build systems to detect when people are getting into trouble.”

Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the trade body Remote Gaming Association, said the Gambleaware research will illustrate the most reliable markers for gambling harm, enabling the Association to communicate with its members and recommend its inclusion in their responsible gambling strategies and facilities.

“That will get everyone up to the same standard of the analytics of trying to spot indications of harmful play,” he said.

Gambleaware’s Corby said that a younger demographic between the ages of 18 and 35 was emerging in calls to the charity, disclosing that 49 percent of their gambling had taken place online – more than retail betting shops at 37 percent. He said this raised concerns that young people who may never go to bookmakers are becoming compulsive online betting punters.

“We are seeing a new generation growing up quite used to playing games on their phones and tablets but a lot of these games have very similar characteristics to gambling,” Corby observed. “What we don’t have the evidence for at the moment is whether this is actually going to create a bigger problem in the future. We’re in fact going to devote our annual conference this year to the question of young people and gambling.”

The Remote Gaming Association and the UK Gambling Commission have collaborated on a national UK self-exclusion scheme for online gamblers that is set for implementation in January next year, when it will become a licensing condition for any operator in the UK market.

Punters will be able to exclude from all UK licensed gambling sites using a single entry on one website, with all licensed operators linked to the self-exclusion website.

This website will also signpost to specialist support and advice services to assist those people trying to manage their gambling, a Commission spokesperson said.

RGA chief Hawkswood said the scheme should be highly effective, but expressed his concern that the facility deals with a problem after it has actually occurred. This illustrated why the Gambleaware research and the possibility of early warning software was so important, he said.

“If we can stop as many of these people as possible before they develop the problem, then have the self-exclusion as a safety net, that would be a much better way of doing it,” he opined.

Kindred Group Hires Top Problem Gambling Experts

Researchers tasked with looking into gambling practices using anonymised customer data from Kindred Group

The Kindred online gambling group (formerly Unibet) has embarked on a responsible gambling project by hiring two experienced researchers to examine gambling practices using anonymised customer data from the group.

The research will include studying player behaviours whilst gambling with the group, and assess the efficacy of its existing responsible gambling measures.

The project will be led by the London-based management consultancy Neccton director Dr. Michael Auer, who will work with Nottingham Trent University professor Mark Griffiths.

The duo has previously worked together on studies evaluating the effectiveness of responsible gambling tools used by a number of different European online gambling companies.

“Our previous research has shown that companies who employ responsible gambling tools can help their clientele play on their products in a more controlled way by setting time and money spending limits and providing personalised feedback to players in a timely fashion based on their actual gambling behaviour”, said Dr. Auer.

Professor Griffiths said the Kindred project continues recent innovative research analysing real customer data and evaluating the extent to which responsible gambling tools like personalised feedback, limit-setting and pop-up messaging actually work.

“This new research project will not only help Kindred but the findings will help share best practice with other online gambling operators around the world”, he said.

Awareness Of GambleAware Rises

Rising levels of awareness and recognition of support programme

Responsible gambling charity GambleAware has reported a substantial increase in the level of awareness of the programme amongst British adults since the last survey undertaken in 2015.

A recent poll of 4,000 British adults by YouGov Plc found awareness levels had risen from 30 percent to 43 percent in two years while the proportion of people recognising the National Gambling Helpline had nearly doubled in the same period, from 14 percent to 26 percent.

Compared to other similar similar awareness and support based organisations, the poll found that recognition of GambleAware ranked behind well-known charities, ChildLine, Drinkaware and FRANK.

Iain Corby, deputy chief executive of GambleAware, said:

“Our first priority is to prevent gambling-related harm. To do this, we need to make sure people know where to find help if they need it.

“We are pleased to see our efforts to raise awareness of BeGambleAware.org have paid off – but we know we still have more to do to equal other leading advice services.”