In the second part of our roundtable discussion, we carry on the conversation about responsible gambling as industry experts analyse the role that technology can play in early problem gambling detection.
CasinoBeats: Technology allows for early detection and messaging, do you think automated processes are enough to deter problem gambling at the source, or does this require a human touch?
Kimberley Broad, Chief Compliance Officer at Games Global (right): I think we have enough case history now to establish that whilst early detection and messaging can be effective, for some, this will not be enough and meaningful human contact can be the key differentiator in helping to keep players safe.
Where technology has a critical role to play however is by helping guide the right action to the right player at the right time. Suppliers can support operators with data to make decisions. This could be to ensure that a trained customer service operative can make a targeted human connection with a player in need, as opposed to focusing on a player with no indication of potentially problematic behaviour. This is essential and can make a real difference.
Niklas Hopfgartner, Data Scientist at OpenBet’s Neccton (left): Automated processes alone are not enough to deter problem gambling at the source. Our system also sends players customised messages, which are triggered by a certain type of behaviour. However, not all players read their messages, and if they do, they also don’t always follow recommendations.
There will always be a human component in addressing problem gambling. Sometimes it may be necessary for trained personnel to email or call a high-risk gambler and ask them to complete a self-assessment of their gambling behaviour, to check they can recall it. If all else fails, the operator may need to ban the player from the platform or a single betting product.
Tom Farrell, CMO at ClearStake: It requires a combination of both. We need to strike a balance, with computers doing the maths and automatically identifying indicators of problem behaviours, so people are free to do the human side of the job.
The worst use of a human being is looking through a bank statement with a calculator, doing maths to figure out what somebody’s disposable income is. A computer can do that in seconds. The best use of that person is being on the phone to somebody with unusual or concerning behaviour, to establish a human connection and decide if this person is simply someone of means who is enjoying their hobby, or somebody who is perhaps spiralling out of control.
That is a judgement only a human can make, and we should use the technology available to free up humans for making those judgements. Without wanting to sound like an advertisement, using a system like ours saves a lot of time, reduces human error and thus gives compliance teams more confidence. One of our clients has found ClearStake leads to a 60% reduction in the time it took staff to reach a decision on player financial health.
CasinoBeats: Looking ahead, what technologies do you believe will have the biggest impact on promoting and ensuring safer gambling practices in the years to come?
Ed Mitchell, Head of Data at Future Anthem (left): Positive play is the top priority for us right now. Future Anthem is heavily committed to this initiative because of its tremendous potential impact. For those who may not be acquainted with the concept, positive play shifts the approach to player protection.
Rather than simply reacting to risky behaviours, the aim is to proactively encourage players to engage in a consistently positive manner through gamification and positive reinforcement.
NH: In terms of technology, we are well-positioned compared to other industries. When it comes to curbing and treating addictions or disorders, we have accurate, cost-effective, and real-time player tracking data which can be used to identify problem gambling and provide effective interventions.
As an industry, we need to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of and develop various responsible gaming tools such as self-exclusion, limit setting, etc. to provide the most effective interventions and safeguards to curb problem gambling.
OpenBet and Neccton are working on this and constantly publishing scientific studies on these very issues. We believe that it is only through academic research that we can advance player protection on a global scale.
TF (Right): Artificial intelligence is going to get better at identifying troubling behaviour. AI will be able to spot a player who is behaving in a way that it has observed before, that it is programmed to identify as unsafe and that needs to be shut down.
Meanwhile, Open Banking technology, such as ClearStake, is going to give operators almost total confidence that the people who are betting with them are doing so within their means. It makes it incredibly easy to do a job that right now operators (and customers hate) – sharing financial data and reaching decisions around affordability and money laundering.
KB: Whilst the rest of the world is getting to grips with large language model AI such as Chat GPT and Claude 2, our industry has seen predictive behaviour modelling AI play a role in helping understand player behaviour for a little while now.
As these large data models understand more about what is and what isn’t problematic behaviour and as more becomes known about markers of home from studies etc, then the accuracy and efficiency of these models and products improve.