In the absence of the long-awaited UK gambling-reform White Paper, operators are calling on the country’s government to provide some clarity over regulatory expectations.
The review of the UK’s Gambling Act kicked off in late 2020; since then, there have been numerous leaked details of what the White Paper might propose. Nearly two years later, however, the document has yet to be published.
Speaking on the “UK Re-Wired – UK Gambling Act 2005 under the Spotlight” panel at the SBC Barcelona Summit on Wednesday, industry representatives called on the government to provide some clarity, as conflicting details emerge from both the press and the regulator.
Kindred head of UK corporate affairs Tom Banks said that although casinos have been taking steps to improve player protection by their own volition, clarity on what good looks like in the eyes of the regulator is still critical.
Oddschecker head of commercial Guy Harding agreed, pointing out that definitions and benchmarks vary wildly across jurisdictions, making it hard to guess the expectations of a single regulator.
“I was reading a report which looked at what the Division of Gaming Enforcement in New Jersey was looking at for affordability thresholds”, Harding said. “And we’re £2,000 over three months, but they were looking at $100,000 deposit over 90 days and a million dollars in stakes over 90 days. That shows the relative thresholds for New Jersey versus the UK.”
Harding said it’s not just affordability that is yet to be defined, highlighting that some operators refer to “recreational customers” as being those that are low risk.
“But no one has said what that even means”, he stated. “And the other thing to bear in mind is it’s a moving feast. So if you’re a recreational customer at inception or sign up, you won’t always be and it’s the flows people need to be very careful of.”
Entain Group head of safer gambling and external affairs Sophie Platts said her company had established a five-year partnership with Harvard Medical School to identify at-risk player behaviours and work out how best to intervene.
“We gave them our anonymized data sets. They reviewed them and looked at different cohorts of customers. And one of the things that was most surprising for a lot of people is that the highest-spending customers were actually some of the lowest when you compare them on PGSI [Problem Gambling Severity Index]. So it isn’t necessarily all about financial spend. Lots of behavioural indicators are missed from this conversation as well”, she explained.
Both Platts and Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions head of gaming Adam Doyle also raised the problem of gaining access to data and doing so without creating so much friction in the user journey that the product loses appeal or data-protection rules are violated.
Platts said Entain is working on a single-customer-view pilot with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office and the Betting & Gaming Council.
“We will look initially at those on a higher harm level, basically, those that have perhaps self-excluded from one of our brands. We want to tell other operators, ‘This person was self-excluded; you might want to watch and make sure they don’t spend too heavily with yourselves’. And then those that have been highly flagged on our algorithms as well”, she said.
This is a rudimentary step towards creating an industry-wide database of gambling customers, which prevents those at risk of harm from being known to and blocked from one operator, but able to gamble with another due to a lack of information sharing.
Banks called for greater access to customer data in order to improve player protection. He said in Kindred’s experience, just one in 10 customers is willing to supply payslips or bank statements to an operator.
“So the other nine out of 10 are either going elsewhere or eventually, if every licensed operator has to do that, there’s only one other place, or a couple of other places, they can go, and the grey market is one of them”, he said.