Betting industry opens up machine data for evaluation by PwC

Marc EtchesThe Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) has commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to evaluate Player Awareness Systems (PAS), an independent recent betting industry initiative designed to help people avoid gambling-related harm when using gaming machines in licensed betting offices.

PAS systems analyse the behaviour of those logged in and playing on gaming machines, assessing behaviour against a range of problem gambling markers. Alerts can be sent to the players, including signposting to responsible gambling tools such as setting limits on machines and self-exclusion.

For the first time, independent research commissioned and published in December 2014 by RGT showed that it is possible to distinguish between problem and non-problem gambling behaviour on machines.

In response to this finding, betting industry operators have deployed PAS across the whole UK betting estate, using a variety of analytical algorithms to provide alerts and appropriate interventions for customers showing signs of problem play.

To evaluate the ongoing implementation of these systems, RGT’s independent Research Committee, which only includes those RGT trustees who are wholly independent of the gambling industry, ran an open, competitive tender process in February 2016.

As a result of their appointment, PwC will understand the systems and controls designed in order to implement PAS, and be granted full access to machine data and the algorithms being used to identify problematic behaviour. PwC will observe the PAS controls operated within Licensed Betting Offices and submit a report to RGT for academic peer review this summer, prior to its publication.

Marc Etches, Chief Executive of the Responsible Gambling Trust, said: “When RGT published independent research into machine gambling in December 2014, we hoped to see a positive and a coherent policy response from the gambling industry. We look forward to analysing the insights from PwC’s evaluation and encouraging the lessons it highlights to be applied across the industry.”

Mark Jordan, lead partner for PwC, said: “At PwC helping the community is part of our core values. We are proud of the work that we do both voluntarily and professionally with charities, social enterprises and the social investment sector around the country. To ensure the future success of the PAS initiative, it is critical to have an understanding of the different approaches designed and implemented at this early stage.”

Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the ABB, said: “PAS marks a significant step forward in the continued development of the harm minimisation measures available in betting shops by allowing for earlier interactions with customers who may be at risk, before they are displaying overt signs of harm.

“This evaluation will help ensure that we are able to build on this progress on the basis of evidence and continue to improve the existing PAS systems on machines. We hope that the lessons learnt from this initiative can eventually be transferred into other areas of player protection within shops and this evaluation is an important first step.”

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