With this week’s announcement by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) that it has agreed to voluntarily remove all gaming product advertising on TV and radio during the COVID-19 lockdown, the subject of safer gambling is hot on the thoughts of people in the industry.
Speaking at the SBC Digital Summit, Andy Danson, partner at Bird and Bird, and a panel of industry experts discussed how the industry has approached safer gambling during self isolation and the current lockdown.
Danson started off the session by acknowledging the current situation by stating: “We know the current situation of self isolation is a mental and a financially challenging one for many people and that has led to concerns about heightened risks of gambling related harm during this period.”
He also expressed his concerns that some measures which have been proposed, and imposed, by the industry have been based on “a public health style precautionary approach” rather than being based on “evidence with what is actually happening and how customer play patterns are actually happening”.
Danson continued to say he was “heartened, from a UK perspective, to see new culture minister Nigel Huddleston asking the industry for more data, monitoring and evidence” before decisions were made in regards to regulatory measures.
Asked by Danson regarding the changes to players behaviour at GVC, Martin Lycka, director of regulatory affairs for the group, said: “The customer behaviour has definitely changed and evolved, there’s more punters who have entered into the online world of casino and slots but following the latest GVC data that doesn’t mean there’s been a massive spike in activity.”
Talking about the recent proposal by the BGC, Lycka welcomed the decision as a “significant step in the right direction” whilst also revealing at GVC the “overall level of advertisement has gone down”.
David Williams, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Rank Group, added: “To put things into context to what we are hearing externally that there has been an explosion in advertising and marketing revenues and that bookmakers and operators are profiteering from this, our group wide revenue is significantly down, our digital revenue is up but it does not account, in anyway, to what is happening.”
Williams went on to state he was reluctant to talk about patterns that are emerging due to being in an unprecedented situation but believes the “changes in place are largely what you would expect and in many cases pretty modest and not one dimensional”.
Avigail Nir, COO of Mansion Casino, also expressed that a “lack of changes” is the key phrase to use in regards to online player patterns.
She said: “We do see some changes and we do see it’s very dynamic as time progresses as people get used or fed up with being at home so we do see what we expect from people being at home, they are more active online, so naturally being active includes gambling.
“What we see is not a change in behaviour rather than the time spent on the site, we do see that hours spent on the site are now throughout the day instead of specific times. More time is spent on the site but we are taking measures to limit that.
“Pure consumer behaviour, like opting-in to marketing we do see that everything is the same.”
The panelists also discussed what actions operators are taking to address concerns over player vulnerability and player affordability during the crisis, and if the temporary measures will be relaxed once the industry returns to normality.
SBC Digital Summit’s ‘Safer gambling during self isolation‘ panel discussion was sponsored by Mindway Al.
The SBC event runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020, featuring a variety of industry expert panels, virtual networking lounges and a virtual exhibition. It also offers an on-demand feature if you miss or want to re-watch the panel sessions.
The Digital Summit has attracted an estimated 10,000 delegates from around the world to discuss some of the industry’s biggest topics. If you wish to join the event then register here.