The Gambling Commission has introduced a new set of regulations that come into force on 12 September and will affect the way operators interact with customers.
On September 12, the new player monitoring rules come into force. The Gambling Commission expects operators to monitor how they identify vulnerable customers, indicators of harm, when to use automated systems and processes, and how to assess the impact of customer interactions.
The new rules are stronger and more prescriptive, requiring operators to:
- monitor a specific range of indicators, as a minimum, to identify gambling harm
- flag indicators of harm and take action in a timely manner
- implement automated processes for strong indicators of harm
- prevent marketing and the take-up of new bonuses for at-risk customers
- evaluate their interactions and ensure they interact with consumers at least at the level of problem gambling for the relevant activity
- evidence their customer interaction evaluation to the Gambling Commission during routine casework
- comply with these requirements at all times, this includes ensuring the compliance of third-party providers.
Until now, the old rules were open to interpretation, and some operators were fined for not meeting the standards expected by the regulator.
Correct process mapping and the introduction of automated systems are essential to comply with these new rules. The entire customer journey must be fully documented so operators can prove how they monitor players and what happens if they hit a threshold or trigger a marker.
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Of course, the biggest challenge for operators is implementing them without negatively impacting the journey and user experience.
Gambling Commission Chief Executive, Andrew Rhodes, said: “Time and time again our enforcement cases show that some operators are still not doing enough to prevent gambling harm. These new rules developed following extensive consultation, make our expectations even more explicit.
“We expect operators to identify and tackle gambling harms with fast, proportionate, and effective action and we will not hesitate to take tough action on operators who fail to do so.”
As well as the changes on 12 September, the industry is waiting with bated breath to see what will come of the government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005. It is clear that accessibility will be the main focus, and this could lead to operators having to go to some pretty extreme lengths to determine whether a player can afford to play at certain levels or not.
Even those who use ultramodern technologies are obliged to implement several manual actions, and these, without a doubt, will add more friction to the user experience.
Most gambling operators fear that these changes will eventually push players to unlicensed sites where there is little or no protection. Which is exactly the opposite of what the government and the Gambling Commission are trying to achieve.
Creating a delicate balance
Due to the increasingly high levels of competition, it is becoming more and more expensive to integrate customers with operators, and if they do not align with the regulations, they face a significant risk of being fined or even losing their license.
To find a balance between integration and compliance, it is important to fully document the integration process and combine this with automation. This should spell out exactly what is done at each player’s touch point while you are involved with the operator’s online sports betting or online casino.
Automation has also reduced friction during the player registration process by ensuring it is not evasive – this in turn leads to a steep reduction in dropouts. In short, time is money for operators, and they can save money and resources by relying on automation to do much of the heavy lifting. This in turn frees up the ability to support the small number of players who are truly at risk.
In order to monitor player behavior, you must first check the client’s standard play patterns, so there must be a starting point. Every player is different. Firstly, standard gambling behavior might be to deposit £50 every Saturday and place bets on all the games taking place that day. For others, they might deposit £500 a month and bet on basketball three nights a week.
Regardless, once a player’s standard behavior has been determined, operators must be able to identify any deviation from it. This is not as difficult as it might seem; it really only requires the establishment of strict rules that are monitored and, if violated, a predetermined action automatically occurs.
This is why automation is so important. Given the large number of transactions that operators process, it is impossible to monitor them manually.
Player protection is a priority
Most operators have implemented various tools that are available to players and whose purpose is to help them stay in control of their game. Among them, we have session limits, deposit limits, loss limits, etc. Of course, these must be enforced by the player, and the reality is that if the player has a gambling problem, they are unlikely to impose limits or set those limits to the maximum possible amount.
Although they promote these tools and encourage responsible gambling, this must also be supported by cutting-edge technology to monitor players and intervene if they show signs of problem gambling. This can easily be done by establishing strict rules combined with automated processes.
Automation is great and a great tool to help operators onboard and monitor many players, but there is still a huge need for manual intervention.
Once the technology has identified someone as potentially vulnerable, a human is needed to reach out, clarify the situation or provide support and help. This is a gap that cannot be filled using technology alone.
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