XCM’s Andrew Masters: The power of data
XCM’s Andrew Masters: The power of data
Andrew Masters, director of XCM, spoke to TotallyGaming.com about how an operator can use data to better protect players and significantly improve its approach to responsible gambling.
The UK Gambling Commission has made itself clear; operators must do more when it comes to responsible gambling and player protections. 888, GVC, William Hill; they are innovators, market leaders, and titans of the industry, but according to the regulator they have all failed to meet the most basic licence requirements for player protections, anti-money laundering and fraud.
The fines each has been hit with will certainly dent their bottom lines, but also their reputations. Each operator, and the wider industry, has an uphill struggle ahead in order to change perceptions among watchdogs, the public, and those who like to play online casino, sports, poker, bingo, etc.
But enough of the finger pointing; to move forward a solution must be offered, and that is where I believe data comes in. Data, and its capture, segmentation, analysis and deployment, can drastically improve the way operators monitor players, support those at risk developing problem play, and tailor marketing and promotions.
The most obvious opportunity is to use data to closely monitor player behaviour, and to recognise when an individual starts to wager outside of their usual betting patterns. Tell-tale signs include fluctuating deposit amounts and bet values (chasing losses), a significant increase in session times, as well as the time of day/night they are playing.
Operators can easily access these insights, and so long as data is being effectively segmented, monitored and analysed, can quickly identify a player in need of further monitoring and/or intervention. Operators already have this information to hand, and most of this process can be automated, so there really is no excuse for these protocols not being in place.
Data can also be used gain a deeper understanding of a player’s “means”. Third party data sources can provide insight into a player’s sociodemographic and financial background, helping operators determine whether they can afford to deposit and wager with the amounts they are playing with or not.
This is particularly important when it comes to AML and fraud; if a player earns £30,000 per year but is regularly depositing £20,000 into his/her online poker account, further investigation is required. We have all heard stories of employees stealing from their employers to fund their gambling activity – data can’t stop this happening, but it can wave a red flag above players betting beyond their means.
Another area where operators are feeling the pressure is marketing. Many have taken advantage of real-time marketing platforms (as well as real-time odds, in-play markets, etc) to drive acquisition and retention, but now they must focus on redemptive real-time player management to help educate punters about how to gamble responsibly.
In this regard, data is the glue that binds. When combined with an integrated technology stack, it allows marketers to drive educational collateral via push notifications, on-site messaging, customer service, and VIP management, but in a controlled and measured way.
Indeed, CRM needs to be in sync with risk and AML to make sure that the right messages are being sent to the right players at the right time. At the moment, we have a similar situation to the banks and sub-prime lending; players are inundated with bonuses, promotions and rewards, which will undoubtedly push some to play above and beyond their means. If this continues, a large-scale crash is likely.
Interestingly, operators have made a lot of noise about being multi and omni-channel, but when it comes to the level of insight and micro analysis available to them, retail lags behind online. But this can be improved by initially using online data to support the retail view, while “single wallet” projects deliver better on-site data across the board.
When it comes down to it, operators have a duty of care to their players, but it is also down to the player to act responsibly. To help with this, the industry needs to work more closely together and pool the knowledge and understanding that operators have to better educate players as to what responsible play looks like, and the tools available to them to help manage their gambling activity.
I also think it should be made as easy as possible for players to exclude themselves from marketing material, but on a very granular level. They should be able to opt out of messaging on a vertical by vertical basis, and even for specific types of promotions (deposit, wager, etc). You may have a player that wants to opt out of casino ads, but still likes to place a bet on his favourite football team at the weekend.
Gaming companies have an opportunity to create a preference centre outside of the platforms and data warehouse to manage the customer in a compliant and responsible way. At the same time, they give punters the ability to tell the industry about their bonus preferences by vertical, further enhancing engagement.
For operators, data is perhaps the most powerful responsible gambling tool at their disposal. It can help them properly identify those at risk of developing problem play, and also steer their approach when it comes to intervention and offering them the protection and support they require.
The UK Gambling Commission has made clear this is not an issue it intends to sweep under the carpet, and with operators already accumulating vast volumes of stats and information every minute of every day, it’s time they put that data to better use and to properly protect players.