OpenBet and Neccton merger webinar: “Players want to make the right safe decision for themselves”

Following the announcement that OpenBet has acquired Neccton, a developer of anti-money laundering, fraud-detection and responsible gaming technology, representatives from both companies held a webinar on the evolution of compliance and responsible gaming.

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Attendees: Jessica Fell, VP Regulatory Affairs, OpenBet, Michael Auer, CEO Neccton, Keith Whyte Executive Director, National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), Jordan Levin, CEO OpenBet

The webinar was kicked off with Jessica Fell, VP of Regulatory Affairs at OpenBet. She explained that the webinar would give both companies the chance to fully explain why they had decided to make the commitment to responsible gaming in the global gambling industry.

Jordan Levin, OpenBet CEO, said: “This is extremely exciting for us.”

He went on to explain that, in recent years, the gambling industry has attracted the interest and scrutiny of governments all around the world. In particular, Europe, Australia and Canada have all introduced stricter compliance and regulatory measures within their jurisdictions.

Not only do these changes apply to traditional responsible gambling and anti-money laundering measures, as is seen so often with headline-grabbing fines, but also more intricate parts of the industry. Nowadays, operators are being asked to uphold stricter measures in terms of advertising standards, both online and in retail locations, and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.

Levin went on to use the UK as an example. Even though the UK market is one of the largest and most established in the world, the UK Government recently dropped the White Paper. This means there will be a number of major changes introduced into the ecosystem, which operators will have to adapt to remain compliant.

Michael Auer, Neccton CEO, explained that while it’s important to consider instructions from the Government regarding compliance matters, you also cannot forget about the individual gambling. Auer enjoys approaching the problem from a more personal perspective, having obtained his PhD in Psychology in 2016.

“Gambling is the perfect combination of psychology and statistics,” he explained. “Why do people gamble? Why do people wager? You can’t answer that, but the idea is highly mathematical.”

In fact, one of the papers that Auer published recently explored the changes in bettor behaviour over time. Auer found that there are distinct behaviour markers, which can be identified within weeks of the person signing up at an operator, that can be reliably repeated or even escalated several months down the line.

“Gambling is the perfect combination of psychology and statistics. Why do people gamble? Why do people wager? You can’t answer that, but the idea is highly mathematical” – Michael Auer

Auer also stressed how important it is to approach responsible gambling from the viewpoint of the gambler. While an operator may look at the data and view it as just an isolated set of numbers, the chances of an operator receiving a player who has never gambled before are very low.

It’s more likely that an operator is going to receive a player who has found some kind of dissatisfaction with another brand and signed up at a different operator to get the experience they want. This is why it’s so important to consider the behaviour of customers in this light, rather than viewing each customer as an isolated case at each operator.

Levin agreed with this point and explained that this was one of the reasons he felt that Neccton was a great culture fit for the company. Not only does he believe the combination of OpenBet’s global software and solutions would be enhanced by Neccton’s research and commitment to a safer world for bettors, but that their approaches would complement one another.

Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), explained: “Data is everything.”

Whyte continued to explain that the approach that Neccton has towards data is what makes them such a valuable asset in the gambling industry. Neccton uses the data that a lot of operators already have and allows customers to access it. In an effort to modernise responsible gambling, transparency is becoming increasingly important.

He states that one of the things that makes Auer and Neccton stand out is the sheer amount of publications he releases. Gathering large amounts of data and analysing them is an arduous task, but the reports produced can only serve to help out the industry and players alike.

Once players are aware of certain behaviours and markers they can look out for themselves, the pressure for operators to be the only ones responsible for safer gambling is alleviated.

Not only that, but the relationship between transparency and building data becomes symbiotic; where the more data that is collected and published, the more data is likely to be offered.

Whyte said: “It’s one thing to say you’ve noticed hundreds of markers across your customers, but it’s another thing to actually do something about that.”

This is true; several operators in recent years have been pulled up by various regulatory institutions for failing to act on signs of problematic signs with customers.

By using an analogy, Whyte summed up this point perfectly: “Like casinos, if you’re going to pick a car, you pick a car with airbags. We hope customers start to choose casinos that can protect them and keep them safe.”

If customers can be convinced of the importance of responsible gambling, and this becomes a deciding factor on which casinos they choose to use, then this establishes an economic case for introducing better protection.

Through more published reports, education and openness regarding the problems surrounding harmful gambling, Whyte explained that this can actually add value to operators. Rather than it coming across as a restriction, if the public can be made aware of how vital it is to have this level of protection against problem gambling, it can be used as a promotional factor.

Whyte also emphasised that when operators do fail to act on signs of problem gambling, it quickly becomes a case of: “What did you know? When did you know it? And why didn’t you do anything about it?”

“There are only good reasons to do this, both ethical and economical.”

Jordan Levin contributed to the conversation by offering his unique US perspective to the webinar. He explained that with so many states beginning to legalise sports betting, online casinos and other forms of gambling, then it’s created a very unique and time-sensitive opportunity for compliance companies to step in.

“These systems are only one layer, and you have to have a multi-layer approach. You cannot rely solely on operators to handle this, this has to be handled as a public health issue. There has to be wider education, even down to the family level”

He explained that if the US gambling industry wanted to “get ahead of itself” before the politicians begin to take control of regulation, companies like OpenBet and Neccton need to make moves in the space speedily. He continued that having industry experts in charge of compliance and regulatory measures in the country is vital for sustaining the gambling industry ecosystem, especially long term.

However, when asked if operators could ever really ever become totally compliant, the team on the webinar admitted that the chances of this happening were slim.

Given the record amount of fines you yourselves referenced; even with an abundance of technology available to them, will operators realistically ever be totally compliant or is this just an eternal problem gaming will face?

“These systems are only one layer, and you have to have a multi-layer approach. You cannot rely solely on operators to handle this, this has to be handled as a public health issue,” Whyte explained. “There has to be wider education, even down to the family level.”

Levin described how there were too many footfalls in the system to promise a complete level of compliance in the industry.

“But, the huge fines should be preventable,” Levin concluded, “by a combination of tools, culture and controls.”

Fell said: “Players want to make the right safe decision for themselves."

Finally, Auer explained how Neccton anticipated to approach the global market in the future. Indeed, he said one of the good things about how Neccton is operated is through the sheer level of customisation in the company. For example, with stricter measures in Ontario, Neccton can adjust itself to the changing needs of the jurisdiction.

This will be all the most important with emerging markets, which may have changes made to regulations and laws as time passes.

However, everyone on the webinar emphasised the importance of the multi-layer approach to responsible gambling. Just as CRM and compliance slowly became the responsibility of everyone involved in the process, all the way through suppliers, manufacturers and developers, so too should the issues surrounding responsible gambling.

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