As Responsible Gambling Week continues on, Adam Doyle, head of gaming at TruNarrative, looks at protocols for identifying problem gamblers and asks what more operators could be doing.

The UK Gambling Commission has made it clear that operators are ultimately responsible for protecting players, preventing problem gambling where they can and providing those that do develop a gambling addition with the support they need. 

To do this, operators provide players with a range of tools to help them keep in control of their play – session limits, deposit limits, loss limits – as well as the option to take a cooling off period or to self-exclude from the site for a period of months or even years. 

While these tools undoubtedly help, they require a sense of awareness from the player to acknowledge they need to use such tools to stay in control of their play. While some can do this, many can’t, so operators need to take additional steps to spot potential problem gamblers. 

Offering such incentives to a potential problem gambler is clearly not responsible”

But this is easier said than done. It is often the case that problem gamblers display similar playing patterns to high value VIP players, particularly if they are placing large bets and chasing their losses. High rollers can afford to do this, problem gamblers cannot. 

This causes additional headaches for operators as they want to be able to accurately identify VIP players and differentiate them from potential problem gamblers. High rollers are often given special treatment, bonus offers and higher limits. 

Offering such incentives to a potential problem gambler is clearly not responsible and, from a financial perspective, means operators are investing money and resources into a player in the belief they are a high roller when in fact they are not. 

What can be done? 

So, what can operators do to make sure they can accurately identify a potential problem gambler and separate them from a high roller to ensure those that need help and support receive it, and that those who should receive additional incentives do? 

The answer is behavioural monitoring which is then combined with contextual information. With a full profile of an individual user supported by intelligent data science it is possible to spot good customers faster and to also identify problem gamblers. 

This is done by firstly understanding an individual user’s behaviour; this includes the sequence in which they create event types (place a bet), when they create them (the time of day they wager) and the associated parameters for each (size of bet, duration of gambling session, etc). 

“Regulators really want to see operators taking additional steps”

Technology solutions can allow operators to monitor for changes in the individual player’s behaviour and analyse it on the basis that certain patterns and sequences can be used to predict a new event type, such as a player developing problem patterns of play. 

Using machine learning, which excels at spotting high-value customers because there is more information on them. This is combined with data science allowing operators to correctly identify VIPs and provide them with the 5-star service they require. 

Of course, if the player is identified as a potential problem gambler then the operator can deploy its own intervention methods, usually via customer support, and ensure the player receives the help and support they need. 

Providing tools to allow the player to control their play is a good start, but regulators really want to see operators taking additional steps to protect players at risk of developing a gambling problem. 

It’s no longer about trying to do the minimum requirement to tick the box with the regulators. The technology and the data is out there. 

Behavioural monitoring combined with contextual information and data is the absolute best way to achieve this, allowing operators to identify potential problem gamblers early, intervene and take the necessary steps to ensure they receive the help and support they need. 

In addition, they can confidently identify VIP players and roll out the red carpet safe in the knowledge they are actually high rollers.

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