For Problem Gambling Awareness Month in the US, CasinoBeats has spoken to Optimove’s Senior Director of Sales, US, Tomer Imber about how the igaming industry is tackling such issues.
During the first part of this two-part interview, Imber talked about how the igaming industry is tackling problem gambling, the models the company has in place to identify such behaviour and the areas operators need to improve in.
Following on from this, the discussion turns to whether operators need to take more of an initiative and what the next steps are for the igaming industry in addressing problem gambling.
CasinoBeats: Bills have been introduced in states such as New York that would require all gambling advertisements to feature responsible gambling messaging. Is this something operators should already be doing?
Tomer Imber: The story here is not just New York, it’s the optics of the gaming industry as a whole. When you think about California not passing legislation last year, and maybe Texas has a prospect of doing it this year, we want to make sure that we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards when it comes to responsible gaming, and not just do the bare minimum, to make sure that we are really showing to the rest of the nation that this is something that has positive effects on the communities, has a positive effect on the state’s income from taxes, and provides entertainment and not encouraging any inappropriate behaviour.
The temptation might be high sometimes because sometimes it’s hard to even distinguish between a VIP and a problem gambler, but that’s what we are required to do. As a vendor, we are a part of that as well and we want to empower our clients to do a better job at tackling that challenge.
CB: Do operators need to take more initiative when tackling problem gambling rather than waiting for legislators or regulators?
TI: Yeah, absolutely, and I hear it, by the way, it’s not just my own personal opinion. I see it at conferences. I sit on panels, and I hear people that are not operators, whether it’s compliance advisors, people that have relations with the regulators and whatnot, they all say that. They all say ‘be proactive’. It’s not reinventing the wheel here.
CB: How critical is an increased, and correct, uptake of responsible gambling practices for the success and survival of the industry?
TI: My personal opinion is that I don’t think that gaming is going to disappear because of that. I believe that there’s going to be a balance and I think that regulators are not going to come in and shut it all down, but I think it’s probably more of a case of slowing things down and making it very, very difficult for operators to turn a profit, which is a major focus nowadays, and just being heavier and heavier on the industry.
I don’t think it’s kind of like ‘we don’t do that we’re gone’ versus ‘do we want to be more prosperous’. Do we want to have a more vibrant ecosystem, potentially a more competitive landscape, because I think that the regulator right now would be very concerned with opening everything up to whatever and being exposed to those issues versus if we, as an industry, can show that we can regulate even more than what we’re being asked to do and so on, then regulators will be more opening up and giving us more opportunity. It’s prosperous of the industry versus shutting it all down.
CB: What is the next step the igaming industry can take to help reduce problem gambling?
TI: There’s the notion of being proactive, and I think that maybe one of the other thing I would say is marketing communication and prediction of the profile is important. I would say that implications to the product are probably another area that the industry should look at.
How do we make sure that, within the experience, within the UI, within the layout of our app or our website, we make it very, very clear to our players that this is something, we’re looking at it, versus those small letters at the bottom of the page that someone might be missing out on.
We want to make sure that we really look into them and we are honest with our players, with ourselves as an industry, that we have done really the best to the best of our efforts to prevent you know problematic gaming behaviour.
What I just described so far is definitely not where we are today, proactiveness, identifying predictive models, and even reactiveness as I mentioned earlier, but also taking it further to the product side of things is probably another area we want to look at.