October 17, 2022 9 min read

Safer Gambling Week #22: What Suppliers Can Do to Protect Consumers

The UK’s Safer Gambling Week, a campaign highlighting the industry’s commitment to player protection and responsible gambling, is taking place this week for the fifth consecutive year. Operators from each sector tailor their approach and initiatives during the week, but what part do suppliers play in furthering the industry-wide commitment to reducing the risk of gambling-related harm? We spoke with several esteemed gaming industry veterans to find out more. In this round table, we bring you Roxana Scicluna, Director of Compliance at Greentube (RS), Dr Edmond Mitchell, Head of Data at Future Anthem (EM), Kimberley Broad, Chief Compliance Officer at Games Global (KB), and Rob Procter, VP of Game Development at Light & Wonder (RP).

Operators traditionally take centre stage during the UK’s Safer Gambling Week, but what can suppliers do to get more involved and how important is it that they do?

(RS)We are all part of the igaming ecosystem and it’s crucial that everyone plays their part and takes responsibility for the very important topic of player safety. There are several things that suppliers can do that go beyond ensuring our games are fair and comply with the minimum spin duration or intervals between spins, for example, which is required of us by regulation in the countries where we are active. Suppliers should be part of the wider conversation and there are industry groups we can join as well as programmes such as G4, the Global Gambling Guidance Group, which award accreditation for companies that can show that Responsible Gambling is a top priority. Suppliers should not stand idly by, but should see themselves as a crucial part of the puzzle to ensure safe play.  

(EM) Generally, suppliers will have some sort of transactional/financial data on players, in many cases gaming studios will have access to more granular transactional data than operators themselves. This allows them to look out for risky patterns and surface them to the operators, meaning they can take action. The more institutions we have looking out for a player’s well-being the more gambling related harm will be reduced.

(KB) Whilst it’s true that most eyes are on operators during Safer Gambling Week, it’s still imperative that everyone within the wider industry comes together to bring broader awareness to the cause. Whilst Games Global as a company is relatively young in the space, we are fortunate to have a large number of highly experienced employees. We are determined to build a culture within our company which considers safer gambling from all angles both internal and external, recognising that we have a collective responsibility to ensure that player safety and the safety of our team is always at the top of our agenda.

As the industry continues to grow around the world, so does our presence and our impact. Safer gambling remains a key consideration to what we do at Games Global, and we’re steadfastly committed to keeping gaming safe and enjoyable. It’s not just the work we do supporting initiatives such as Safer Gambling Week 2022 which helps to raise awareness, but also through internal programmes which continue throughout the year to help this culture thrive. We do this through initiatives such as education sessions, compiling and disseminating industry news, offering training sessions, as well as more informal forums where we encourage open discussion.

It’s important to note, and something that is often forgotten, but we have just as much responsibility to ensure that we take actions to protect our staff as much as we do to protect players. Through our education programme and our staff support programme we make sure that our staff know how to spot behaviour which may be problematic, feel confident to have conversations and know where to go to get help for either them or their loved ones. All of our staff have free access to independent counselling, creating a safe environment in which people can get help in a way which works for them is essential.   

(RP) Suppliers are not on the front-line or player-facing, so it could be quite easy for us to assume player protection is being done on our behalf. However, this is not the case. From our point of view as a games developer, we also accept full responsibility when it comes to player protection. Within the development team, we influence product design and manage our content, features and mechanics so that we’re as responsible as we can possibly be when it comes to creating the overall player experience. This is certainly a model other suppliers can and should adopt themselves.

What responsibilities do suppliers have in ensuring safer gambling, considering they do not have direct contact with the players?

(RS)Suppliers provide the product that players enjoy so we need to ensure it is safe before it goes live with the operator. At Greentube, responsible gambling is at the forefront of everything we do, and we work tirelessly to constantly evolve in this space. We want to entertain people with our products while understanding the responsibility we have to protect vulnerable groups. 

We are in an advantageous position of holding player data as well, as we also operate a number of igaming B2C brands. We analyse the data we gather to better understand at-risk behaviour and incorporate those learnings into our future B2B products, giving us another level of insight to improve our efforts in this area.

(EM) Similar to the last question, suppliers have a responsibility to examine the data they capture to look out for play patterns which indicate risk. They should then create mechanisms that feed into operators responsible gambling processes that will enable improved interactions with players.

(KB) We’re proud to work with operators and industry colleagues that uphold the tenets of safer gambling, but we’re also aware that the bar is always rising in terms of actions we can take as a company to guarantee that we’re adhering to best practices in this very important area. Resting on our laurels isn’t an option.

One part is the education and tools we offer our employees, and another is the example we set for industry partners.

For me, the most crucial thing we can do is continue to follow the rules set by regulators in key markets around the world. We have a highly skilled team of compliance professionals that are continuously horizon scanning to ensure they always remain up to date with best practices; promoting safer gambling initiatives to help keep players safe from gambling harm.

(RP) We are intrinsically linked to a wide range of operators globally and as such, we are very keen to be on top of any issues that may arise when it comes to player protection. Should any requests come in from our operators to assist with new features or developments related to safer gambling we are always on hand to support them. We proactively and genuinely try and do as much as we possibly can to ensure player safety – perhaps more than a lot of people realise.

What efforts are your company making in this space and are you making use of any particular technology?

(RS) Responsible entertainment is a key pillar in our strategy at Greentube and we provide a variety of player protection tools to support players in keeping track of their gaming habits, including deposit, loss and time limits, as well as reality checks and breaks. We also only work in regulated markets with licensed operators that we know take this topic seriously and we have been awarded a G4 certification, the international standard for responsible gaming. On the operator side, we have partnered with Neccton and have integrated their AI-based Responsible Gaming (RG) solution, mentor, across our consumer-facing casino portfolio. The tool helps us identify problem gambling in real-time and automatically interacts with players showing harmful behaviour. We are also a BetBlocker.org donor, a UK registered charity which offers a free app that allows users to restrict their device from accessing thousands of gambling related websites.

(EM) Future Anthem’s Safer Play product has one sole focus, and that is to identify risky play that occurs online. It uses state-of-the-art AI to proactively detect in-session wagering behaviours that indicate players who are exhibiting markers of harm by creating a risk score for every game session for every player. To do this we employ significant cloud computing resources, advanced algorithms, and real-time technology to comb through billions of bets to identify problematic playing patterns.

(KB) We’re still in our first year of operation at Games Global and our approach to safer gambling is a journey, but I can genuinely say it has been such an honour to lay the foundations for a culture within the company which considers safer gambling high up on the agenda.

Internally we share a combined goal of being ‘The One’ within the industry and this means we hold ourselves to the highest of standards in every single facet of the organisation. Naturally, regulation plays a very large part in that.

All our games carry certification from eCOGRA and Gaming Laboratories International, which guarantees that they are fair, key to player protection. We’re committed to ensuring every single game released through Games Global meets the required standards of regulatory bodies and certification agencies alike.

(RP) From a content perspective, we are adapting new ways of working when it comes to game design and mechanics. Take our tournament tools and jackpot mechanics for example, one of the lenses we put these products under is a responsible gaming one, we ensure they’re meeting every gaming licence requirement and constantly monitor the regulator guidelines and apart games to meet the ever-evolving standards.

Not only are we designing those games for maximum entertainment value, but also scrutinising them when it comes to levels of protection to ensure that players have an entertaining experience.

Outside of games and content, we do a lot of work on the platform side to help our operators be best equipped when it comes to managing self-exclusion, and other features such as reality checks and financial limits – all things that we take very seriously. Through our actions right across the company, whether it be product, content, delivery or compliance teams, we believe it is abundantly clear to our customers that player protection could not be viewed more highly within the entire Light & Wonder organisation. 

Journalist

Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.

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