It is positive that some regulators run national databases of problem gamblers. If a player is registered as a problem gambler, their registration with any iGaming company licensed by that regulator will automatically be declined. This approach is very welcomed by the industry, which would like to see it adopted in other countries too, with information sharing between regulators. However, instead of relying on regulators to deliver solutions, the industry should take charge of its own destiny. They could look to the banking sector for inspiration and set up an information-sharing company, similar to SWIFT, a member-owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services. Such a company could hold player information, which could be shared with operators that have signed up to it. There is a clear will from the CEOs of the major operators to come together, the task is now to find a way.
A development that should be catching operators attention is the increasing number of cases across the world where companies are not only being fined for not identifying problem gamblers, but are also being forced to return the money that had been lost by the players. Courts and regulators are increasingly siding with gamblers who believe that operators have failed to identify that they have a genuine problem.
“The question remains how to deal with players that have or appear to have a gambling problem. European gaming regulators have approached this problem differently. Some regulators demand that we close a player’s account should we believe he or she has a gambling addiction, while others want us to actively engage in a dialogue with the player about his or her gambling habits. No regulation requires us to keep an account open, however, they want that players set their own limits or self-exclude, otherwise they will just take the problem to another operator, and it might take time for that operator to identify the issue. In my opinion, this is how we as an industry should go about it. I think the industry needs to come together and adopt best practice. We are taking player protection, as well as all the other regulations that we have to comply with, very seriously. 2018 was an important year in this regard, and we have significantly ramped up our compliance function, especially in terms of our new obligations under the AML Directive and GDPR. I would like to see this evolve into two-way communication. A prime example of this is when we report suspicious transactions; we rarely receive feedback on the outcome of the investigation. However, such knowledge would help us to decide if we want to continue doing business with that customer.”
Alexander Stevendahl, CEO of Videoslots
“Getting fines and penalties is not the same as stating the industry is not serious about player protection. Ironically while getting high fines, the industry has never been more serious and professional. For every fine there is a mistake, for every mistake there are thousands of cases where we did the work. Having said that, we as an industry – and Mr Green as a company – still have more to learn and to improve. We are far from perfect but compared to a couple of years ago the industry is really focusing on this. So, I would say that we are on the right path, moving forward we need to agree on the best way to offer support in a relevant way. This to me is about KYC, it is about the individual and requires individual solutions. The misunderstanding that advertising drives problematic gambling is another industry challenge we must face. Again, it is about the individual, and therefore we focus on building smart digital tools capable of supporting our players on an individual basis. Going forward, I also believe that the industry’s unsustainable business model of high churn and new customer acquisition based on having the product on constant sale via bonuses and free spins is something we need to address over time.”
Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of Mr Green