Safer Gambling Forum: ‘The buzz word is understanding’

At the inaugural SBC Safer Gambling Forum, which took place at the CasinoBeats Summit in September, industry leaders came together to discuss some of the most pressing responsible gambling topics at the minute.

During Responsible Gambling Week (RGWeek 2019), which runs until 13 November, SBC will look at some of the topics addressed during the forum, and what measures the industry can take to promote responsible gaming.

Moderating a panel focused on ‘understanding player finances’, David Clifton, Director of Clifton Davies, addressed how operators could improve their understanding of player finances, accounting patterns and activities. 

Speaking on the panel was the Director of AMLGS Ray Wilson, CEO & Co-founder of beBettor Harry Cott and Director of Solverde Américo Loureiro

Clifton set the scene and provided background on the present issues within the UK before Loureiro discussed the processes in place in Portugal regarding the tackling and understanding of player finances: “In Portugal the regulator consider that online and land-based are in fact different activities. So they split the online way of self excluding, daily deposit limits, daily wagering limits and all of them that comes from UK law. 

“On land-based its tricky just self excluding, I’ll give you an example as to why it’s so tricky. We have a self excluding customer at one of our land-based casinos but that customer is able to play online. 

“As we are operating as an omni-channel company, we need to remove any promotional activities so the customers complain they are not getting promotions because they are self-excluding on land-based. 

With affordability, we don’t have any means and that is not an obligation of the regulator itself.”

As alluded to by Clifton, Portugal’s system resembles that of the UK from five to seven years ago. Now, however, affordability checks have developed significantly within the UK as was explained by Cott: “The average customer has four accounts in the UK, so what we do is report back as a percentage of the customer’s monthly net discretionary income on a daily basis.

“So you’re getting a daily affordability update on a customer as opposed to a static check which could have gone out of date yesterday.

“What we do is we look to try and estimate someone’s gross annual salary, deduce that back to monthly, deduct taxes, make reasonable assumptions for outgoings and the net discretionary is what the UKGC is talking about – essentially we map 100% of net discretionary into these affordability bands. 

“We don’t know how people are spending their income but we map that into these bands. This is purely a guideline from the moment of registration and then if someone is depositing a lot more than that estimate then you would put them in a box. 

With this being said, Wilson added that the responsibility should lie with the operators who have shown a failure to understand the information which they posses. He concluded: “I think the buzz word is understanding. I think one of the consistent failings is that many of the operators that we work with need to actually understand what information they have and how they are assessing it. 

“For example, we’ve been working with a number of operators in the recent past talking about affordability, so when you’re actually analysing information the customer is giving you, the commission is not only wanting you to evidence somebody’s spend and deposits, they also want you to evidence how you know they are able to play. So, if somebody was to put a deposit of £500, you have a bank statement for the source of wealth/source of funds, how do you know that the person is able to spend that? 

“If you’re looking at bank statements can you see potentially a credit from cash converters or a payday loan which will then give you a better understanding of potential risks around the source of funds. A lot of operators are missing those nuggets of information so that is one of the key things we are seeing, the missing of key information which is right in front of the operators. 

“The operators are generally very savvy and very creative when it comes to product design and marketing, but they just need to get a bit more savvy when they are analysing and trying to obtain information around source of funds to understand affordability. It’s a new word in the industry but its not a new notion.”

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