Double Espresso Show – ‘Science leads industry efforts on overcoming problem gambling’

Speaking on the latest episode of the Double Espresso Podcast, Paul Buck, CEO and Founder of Epic Risk Management, stated that he believes the betting industry is ‘on the right track’ with regards to responsible gambling.

In his interview with Rasmus Sojmark, CEO of SBC, Buck highlighted the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act in the UK and the overhaul of regulations in the Netherlands as evidence that the industry is addressing concerns relating to gambling harm.

Epic’s CEO stated that ‘there is still more work to do, but (the industry) is definitely on the right track,’ adding that the sector long-term goal should be to generate ‘$0 or £0 from people who are suffering gambling problems’.

This sentiment was shared by Liv Biesemans, Group Deputy General Counsel, Kindred Group, who ‘important strides’ made by the betting and gaming industry with regards to player protection and addressing gambling related harm.

“I do think the industry has made important strides in recent years, not in the least in terms of having that mindset shift, which was extremely important,” she remarked. “And there’s now a clear understanding and awareness that consumer protection is the only way to achieve sustainability in our sector.”

Echoing Buck’s comments, Biesemans pointed to Kindred’s commitment to generating 0% of revenue from harmful related gambling, as well as a devotion to ‘creating long term sustainability by providing our customers with a safe and secure and most of all entertaining online experience’.

She added: “I think it’s really important to underline that 85% of our revenue comes from the no risk to low risk gamblers. So the majority of our customers do not have an issue with the service, and they can play online and they enjoy the product and the services that we offer.”

Martin Lycka, Senior Vice President of US Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling for the Entain Group, also shared the view of his fellow guests that the industry was ‘on the right track,’ whilst also outlining his company’s approach to responsible gambling.

Lycka argued: “The industry has already gone a long way – we are in a completely different position than we would have been even three or four years ago, and ultimately that success will be measured by what you’ve just alluded to are the long term sustainability of this industry. 

“And to my mind what’s crucial in that regard is the fact that our industry allows 98-99% of our customers that can and know how to gamble sensibly and responsibly to enjoy themselves, whilst catering for those who are not in that position.”

Addressing the issue of black market betting operators, Lycka further elaborated on the need for authorities and licensed companies to clamp down on the illicit market, arguing that this is a ‘logical commitment’ and a ‘no brainer’.

The SVP also stated his belief that operators should also ‘go beyond the letter of the law’ and ensure their approach to responsible gaming is ‘going beyond the individual compliance requirements’ in order to achieve self-regulation. 

Highlighting Kindred’s own approach to responsibility in the gaming industry, Biesemans pointed to the company’s adoption of a classification system for customers as well as a ‘widely used scientific model’ in order to achieve its 0% goal.

She commented: “We use the same approach because we don’t believe in ‘one size fits all’, it’s really that every customer is different. And so we classify our customer database as well from no risk, to low risk gamblers to pathological gamblers.

Comparing approaches on opposite sides of the Atlantic, she added: “Fact based decision making has been lacking in Europe for many years, we see a change now, when there’s a problem that actually needs to be solved, we see a stronger focus on affordability checks, source of income checks.”

This approach, she argued, has been primarily driven by a combination of anti-money laundering (AML) legislation, but also an increased focus on responsible gambling, of ‘knowing from day one’ what a customer spends and what they’re budget is, in order to ‘avoid any issues down the line’.

Additionally, Lycka identified educational initiatives as playing a central role in the development of responsible gaming strategies, supported by gathering data on bettors and ‘putting it to the right use’ in order to better protect customers.

Sharing his own opinions on the importance of responsibility initiatives in the betting and gaming industry, Sojmark stated: To work for responsible entertainment, there needs to be a fundamental understanding of safer gambling problem gambling and player protection.

“We already consider ourselves an entertainment industry, like many other industries, but we cannot really use the word ‘responsible’ if we ignore the inherent problems that gambling is causing to some people.”

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