Developing the right approach for problem gambling

Developing the right approach for problem gambling

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Where does the balance lie between interaction versus intervention on problem gambling?

Technology and data is being increasingly used by the gambling industry in order to help identify customers in danger of developing problems, although there is still an important role to be played by the personal touch.

Developments in technology coupled with enhanced and expanded access to customer data means operators are better placed than ever to assess if a player is a problem gambler, and moreover the patterns of an addiction, or gambling problem, beginning to emerge. The fact that this is more often than not taking place online however not only means that the human element is lost, but it could be easier for customers to avoid realising they have a problem or even discussing the issue should they so wish.

The issue was discussed at the World Regulatory Briefing last Thursday saw an innovation panel focused on the battle between interaction versus intervention. The Head of Gaming at GB Group, Peter Murray, moderated the panel which featured Kira Mendelsohn, Head of Regulatory Affairs & MLRO at Sky Betting & Gaming, Dirk Hansen, CEO of GamCare, Alison Gardner, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Camelot and Graham Weir, Head of Responsible Gambling at Ladbrokes.

Gardner noted how Camelot hugely relies on trained retailers to learn customers’ behaviour, that is to get to know their regulars, and notice important and telling changes. By asking simple questions along the lines of how are you and what have you been doing lately, much can be revealed. Of course the typical national lottery bettor is a vastly different specimen to your typical sports bettor at the bookies, and these are the ones moving to mobile and online in ever increasing numbers.

It’s here that data plays a pivotal role. Ladbrokes’ Graham Weir said of this: “It used to be the case that preventative responsible gambling tools were no use for customers but now this is improving due to behaviours being spotted earlier.”

He added that at Ladbrokes they work in 12 week bettor assessment cycles by which to monitor customers’ betting patterns, and should something be flagged up then there are then three levels of interaction which begins with promotional marketing being temporarily halted.  

Weir, who has worked in the industry for over three decades and started out in retail, added: “Understanding customers and ensuring their safety helps both parties. It often leads to low level and sustainable gambling over a far more extended period.”
Sky Betting & Gaming’s Mendelhson agreed with Weir on the improvements in technology to collect data playing a major role but stated that a focus and education on better ways to utilise that data is integral. She highlighted that this is something Sky Betting & Gaming has been focussing on for the past 12 months.

Gardner concluded by highlighting the fact that the timing of intervention is key and that operators need to get better at doing this in real time. Currently the delay in a potential problem being flagged up by the system and that customer being interacted with in some way is far too great.

Moreover she said that yet more investment is needed in learning how to deliver this message; over what platform tone, presentation, colour etc.  as the industry seeks to optimise how best to approach customers about such a sensitive issue.

Totally Gaming Says: The problem gambling discussion in this area has shifted subtly forwards - it is now less about identifying customers with potential problems, as there has been considerable developments in this area over the past 12 months, but now working out the best way to approach the customer with such sensitive information without spooking them.

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