IGaming as an industry has grown from strength to strength, worth around $60bn in 2020 with projected growth of a further 11.5% by 2027. Across the globe, the popularity of iGaming is surging as more people get smartphones and benefit from better digital infrastructure. Yet for operators, there are still some key challenges that pose a threat to maximising the opportunities of this growth.
One of the most significant considerations is regulatory. Governments and their gambling regulators are often walking a tightrope of political convenience. While regulating gambling makes sense from a tax perspective, there are political and social issues to bear in mind too, and regulators are becoming increasingly toothsome in how they control these challenges.
Responsible gaming is one of the most significant of the societal issues that regulators are keen to address. Problem gambling undeniably causes serious problems for those it afflicts, with some 19% of problem gamblers even having considered committing suicide in the past 12 months, compared to just 4.1% of the population as a whole.
Steps are already being taken across the industry. Throwing money at the problem helps check the box. But in terms of efficacy, there is so much more that could be done to get a better result – first and foremost for problem gamblers themselves, but for the industry as a whole.
Luckily, help is at hand. Waiting in the wings is the gradual rollout of blockchain technology, which will revolutionise the gaming industry in many ways, similar to the changes brought about by the internet and more recently, smartphones. From a responsible gaming perspective, blockchain brings forward a huge range of new possibilities that will provide operators with better tools to tackle the problem, as well as to satisfy regulators of compliance with their requirements.
Recording a Player Journey
Regulators are increasingly putting the burden of responsible gaming on the shoulders of operators. It is frequently up to the operator to identify problems as they arise. Yet without the right data to hand, spotting these needles in haystacks proactively can be a difficult challenge for even the most socially conscious operator.
Blockchain makes it possible to record large volumes of player data in real-time, and to pre-programme automated interventions based on that data. Say for example a player suddenly jumps in their spend volumes or gaming frequency, compared to their prior behaviour. With the help of blockchain technology, this could trigger an alert system, which automatically issues an intervention from the operator. Various trigger points can be established on a traffic light system, green, amber and red, allowing operators to seize the initiative in a data-driven, automated way.
And because it’s powered by blockchain, there is an immutable audit trail written to the blockchain with every data transaction. This can be visible immediately to regulators, who can analyse all the data collected, to reduce liability to fines for non-compliance.
Safer, More Responsible Gaming
Under current systems, protection measures like self-exclusion extend only to the walls of a single operator – there is no centralised register that can be shared between providers identifying players who may already have experienced challenges with their gambling. (Editor’s note: Affiliate Casino Guru is attempted to create a global self-exclusion register but has acknowledged the challenges in doing this). Solving this problem is simple with blockchain, giving players their own unique digital identities and data profiles. These can be seamlessly shared between operators and regulators, or even monetised by the players themselves, courtesy of the new data landscape brought about by blockchain tech.
Responsible gaming will be pushed ever further up the agenda for the iGaming sector in the years to come. It’s crucial that operators put their trust in new technologies like blockchain to solve these challenges, to benefit from improved service delivery, better compliance outcomes and lower costs.
Nick Hill is an iGaming veteran with more than 20 years’ experience within the industry holding various senior positions during this time; most notably he was CCO for EveryMatrix from 2008 until exiting in 2017. On leaving EveryMatrix he spent time in Asia building Flow Gaming an Asian-centric content aggregation platform that was the first to deliver NetEnt content in to the region as well as other well-known content publishers.
More recently Nick has incorporated Premier Chain, which is an iGaming consultancy business with a specific focus on the introduction of blockchain technology in to the iGaming vertical for processing, NFT’s, supply chain management, responsible gaming, AML and KYC as well as all other aspects within the iGaming vertical.