Post-pandemic, operators take responsible gambling more seriously

23 June 2021
Player protection has become more important since the onset of the pandemic.

Player protection has become more important since the onset of the pandemic. (photo by Pixabay)

Some 20% of online gambling operators believe that player protection has become more important since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is according to the results of the latest survey of the industry by Gaming Intelligence. The “State of Online Gambling 2021” report details the answers given by industry movers, shakers, and stakeholders in the wake of the pandemic.
Aside from this, almost three-quarters of respondents said they are confident their company has a clear responsible gaming strategy, and almost half said they consider responsible gaming in every commercial decision they make. Altogether, 70% of those surveyed said they consider responsible gambling in either every or most of the decisions they take related to their business.
The uptick in the attention given to responsible gambling demonstrates an encouraging trend towards a more responsible approach to gambling.
What is responsible gaming or gambling?
Responsible gaming (or gambling) is a set of social responsibility provisions that have been created and rolled out throughout the gambling sector. They have been created by regulators, lawmakers, gambling authorities and commissions, and even operators themselves. Many of the initiatives included in laws regarding this topic have come from industry organizations composed of operators and other stakeholders.
These measures aim to ensure fairness and integrity while protecting underage and problem gamblers. Responsible gambling also includes limitations on advertising and the requirement to promote and be open about risks associated with gambling.
Examples of measures include not being able to advertise in a place primarily accessed by children, not being able to promote gambling to clear debts, and not promising that people will win if they visit your casino. They also lay down guidelines on how and when to limit access to those who appear to be developing signs of gambling addiction.
Responsible gambling is not only a moral and ethical duty for operators, but it’s also enshrined into the requirements laid down by most gambling license issuing authorities.
The role of technology
One development that became apparent following the survey results publication was the role that technology is playing and will continue to play in responsible gambling.
For example, half-used rule-based triggers. These are rules within the betting operations software that are pre-programmed by the operator. They are designed to create an alert when certain criteria are met. This could be a certain number of bets in a time frame, a certain amount of money lost in a time frame, or other behavior which could suggest problematic activity.
Just over 30% said they were using daily or weekly analytics, while 20% said they were utilizing predictive analytics. This shows good progress in the use of data and analytics to set behaviors of acceptable parameters, but the number could be much higher.
A rather high level- some 26.5% said that they were still undertaking some or all responsible gambling processes manually.
But it wasn’t all good news. Some 9% of respondents said they don’t have a proper responsible gambling strategy, and a further 17% said they didn’t know if they did. Of course, the answer to this question depends on who was answering the question. For example, an accounts manager might not have details of such policies, but a CEO or manager should.
The reality is that in 2021, there is little excuse to be conducting responsible gambling monitoring manually. There is a wealth of software out there that can carry out tasks such as verifying ID and age and monitoring gambling activity on a real-time basis.
Using emerging technologies such as AI can provide significant help in risk management and improving existing processes.
Licensing authorities’ approach
Each jurisdiction that offers an online gambling license, has a different approach to compliance and responsible gambling. Some take a hands-off approach and merely request that operators respect responsible gambling practices, others are firm that such measures should be respected.
The Malta Gambling Authority, for example, requests a certificate for every random number generator used within the site. This is to ascertain that the games are fair and that the player is not losing out when they shouldn’t be. The Authority also supervises operators to ensure protection for minors and vulnerable individuals. It insists on responsible gambling in a safe environment with all of its license holders.
In Kahnawake, the licensing Commission takes matters seriously. Acquiring a license here means the Commission is satisfied you are committed to fair and responsible gambling and that you will uphold the jurisdiction's reputation. The Commission conducts ongoing monitoring and evaluation of license holders once the operation is established, to ensure standards are upheld.
In Curacao, the approach is a little more relaxed, but that doesn’t mean operators have free reign to do as they wish. Being caught violating any compliance matters or allowing underage gamblers, can cost you your license and even legal proceedings.
Why responsible gambling is important
Asides from losing your license or ending up in court, if you fail to adhere to responsible gambling policies can ruin your reputation. If players have a choice between someone who displays their responsible gambling policy and sticks to it, and someone who doesn’t, they are more likely to go with the one that offers them protection.
The best approach for gambling operators is to respect the industry’s best practices. As the statistics show, this is becoming the norm, and it’s hoped that this attitude will increase further, hand in hand with technology, as time goes on.

Ron Mendelson

Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based business and financial consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With over two decades of experience in corporate services, iGaming, international business, finance, licensing and legal matters, he advises a number of international clients on their business needs in the Americas, Europe, and beyond.