March 1, 2023 3 min read


Striking the Balance between Player Freedom and Consumer Protection

Getting the right balance between player freedom and consumer protection arguably remains the holy grail of the gambling industry. I’ve always felt that having what I call a ‘healthy tension’ between regulators and industry is needed to ensure industry continues to raise standards in responsible and safer gambling whilst allowing industry freedoms to innovate and grow sustainably.

This balancing act between sustainable growth and what the economists call the negative externalities of industry affects every industry, not just gambling. As a sector we are still learning about the pathways towards gambling harms and therefore, unsurprisingly, different jurisdictions are exploring different philosophies and approaches to consumer protection.

Here in the UK, player affordability and the single customer view have been key topics in the past two years and approaches and solutions are evolving. Other jurisdictions have taken more one-size-fits-all approaches, with stake limits for online slots (eg Germany), and more player-centric approaches, such as enforcing time and spend limits for each online player session (eg Spain), Striking the balance whilst some jurisdictions have kept monopolies in place (eg Norway), citing consumer protection as the main reason for this approach.

Whilst much attention in recent years has been centred on the iGaming sector, land-based gambling remains a major part of the industry and is embracing these solutions and services. It can be challenging in a land-based environment to innovate, however if the sector is to grow sustainably, it needs to continue to evolve its solutions, particularly leveraging technology further to protect customers.

Regardless of the different approaches, responsible or safer gambling remains a major strategic factor in building regulated and sustainable gambling markets globally. It also highlights the challenges and complexities for multi-national organizations operating in regulated markets as no two jurisdictions are the same.

This complexity, together with the continued pressure to raise standards in consumer protection, has seen considerable investment in safer and responsible gambling capabilities in recent years and there has never before been the range and depth of GAMING professional solutions and services that operators and suppliers can leverage to help ‘raise the bar’.

The ICE conference provides an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders, including legislators, regulators, academics, welfare groups and industry to get together to build strategies for using evidence and technology to strengthen consumer protection. The contributors to this safer gambling supplement are all working hard to develop insights, solutions and services to help the industry better protect players. There are many others and this week is a great opportunity to engage with them and see how you can work together to build a more sustainable industry.

Expert Contributor

Simo Dragicevic is the founder of BetBuddy (part of the Playtech group), a pioneer in the use of data and artificial intelligence to protect consumers. He currently sits on the Board of the Responsible Gambling Council and the Great Britain Gambling Commission’s Digital Advisory Panel.

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