Online casinos should offer fun and entertainment, just like any other pastime.
The moment it shifts from a hobby to a compulsion can mean damaging consequences for the affected individual.
Mental and financial stresses are among the obvious side effects of compulsive casino gaming and if the situation goes unchecked for long it could lead to greater problems.
As a way of curbing excessive gambling, many online casinos are using analytics to help identify players who show signs of harmful behaviours.
Since online casinos are account-based, operators are able to observe the behavior of their customers through a series of activity patterns.
The data has to be actively monitored and analyzed to ultimately be used to track any at-risk players. So, as much as online casinos are businesses, they have a social responsibility to protect their customers from harm, and, depending on where they are based, a responsibility based in law, or in the conditions of their licence to operate.
For example, the UK government recently made it clear that the gambling industry has an obligation to protect its customers and limit any online harm.
While speaking during the launch of a 12-week consultation on measures to improve player safety , the UK Gambling Minister Tracey Crouch underscored the need for intervention measures from the industry players.
She said: “We have seen online gambling grow rapidly and we need to protect players in this space, while also making sure those experiencing harm relating to gambling receive the help they need.”
The warning to businesses is, if they don’t come up with ways of ensuring player safety, the government will do it for them.
Software intervention process
Earlier this year several stakeholders including GambleAware and Responsible Gambling Trust published a study that explores the benefits of behavioral analytics and industry-held data to identify people at risk of problem gambling.
The research revealed that operators could use specialized analytics software to identify problem gamblers and determine sufficient intervention methods based on several risk thresholds.
GambleAware has gone a step further by formulating a best practice model that will be availed to online gambling platforms in 2019.
Several industry players are taking serious steps to enhance responsible gambling practices such as software developer Playtech, which recently acquired BetBuddy, a data analytics business, for an undisclosed sum.
While speaking at the official announcement of this acquisition, Playtech’s Head of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance, Ian Ince, stated: “Responsible Gambling is a cornerstone in all Playtech’s offerings. This acquisition demonstrates our commitment to producing solutions and games that will enable Playtech and its customers to be the most responsive and responsible businesses in the industry.”
BetBuddy develops behavioral identification and modification applications which can be integrated in online player management systems.
Playtech is expected to embed special software in its IMS player management system which means that all online casinos that use the Playtech platform and software can be assured of comprehensive player behavior monitoring.
The analytics gathered from BetBuddy’s applications automatically relays relevant data to online casino operators who can then implement smart intervention measures.
Such applications could also include player-focused prevention measures that allow users to activate protection features such as warning alerts and self-exclusion.
Better safety tools across the board
It is evident that some businesses take responsible gambling more seriously than others, or at least have the resources and expertise to offer more sophisticated player safety solutions.
But how can best practice be implemented across the board?
Here are a couple of suggestions that could push along the agenda.
- An industry-led approach should compel all online casino game developers to integrate behavioral identification and modification software in their games – no-one will want to be left behind.
- Casino sites should automatically gain access to valuable data that can be used to identify and assist affected players.
- Stakeholders in the online casino sector should fund and initiate further research relating to harm minimization. The outcomes can then be widely shared to help raise the standards in the online gambling sector.
- All useful research findings should be used to help create legislation that will reduce harm to online casino players and create streamlined laws and regulations that balance player safety with a healthy industry.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Casinopedia.
Want to try an online casino?
Choose an approved casino from our carefully selected list. VIEW CASINOS