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TruNarrative Head of Gaming: The steps needed to protect players

Adam Doyle, Head of Gaming at TruNarrative, talks through the basics of player protection and the Gambling Commission's requirements for operators.

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The Gambling Commission continues to take steps to better-protect players, recently taking the decision to ban operators from accepting credit card deposits. The ban will come into force from April and will undoubtedly cause headaches.

The most obvious issue is the impact it will have on the volume and value of deposits – credit cards are among the most popular deposit methods among UK players. Less obvious is the additional work and cost of having to KYC credit card depositors for a second time.

New players that used a credit card to sign up to and deposit on a gambling site for the first time would have already had their identity verified by the credit card company – credit card holders must be 18 years or older. This meant operators did not have to undertake their own KYC checks.

But with credit cards banned from April, operators will have to put these players through the entire KYC and ID verification process once again, an undertaking that could add 30% to operational costs over the coming months until complete.

Of course, this is just one area where operators are being forced by the Gambling Commission to take more responsibility for protecting players through their online gambling brands. In particular, they must do all they can to prevent problem gambling.

To help customers stay in control of their play, operators must provide them with tools such as deposit, loss, bet and session limits. They must also give them the option to cool-off or self-exclude for a period of months or even years.

These tools certainly help players stay in control but, in reality, do little to help those with serious gambling problems as they will not opt to use these tools in the first place. To protect these players, operators simply have to do more.

This is easier said than done, of course. Problem gamblers often display the same playing patterns as VIP players – big bets, chasing losses, long session times and so on.

Operators want and need to be able to spot the difference between high rollers without problem gambling tendencies and problem gamblers, whether they are high rollers or not. The most effective way of doing this is to use behavioural monitoring combined with contextual information. This provides a full and accurate profile of the player.

This, in turn, allows operators to quickly identify problem gamblers or players starting to gamble outside their usual playing patterns and to separate them. This is how it works in practice.

By using player data, operators can understand their individual playing habits including the sequence in which they create events (place a bet), when they create them (the time of day they wager) and the associated parameters of each (size of bet, session duration, etc).

This behaviour is then monitored and analysed in real-time for changes on the basis that certain patterns and sequences can be used to predict a new event type, such as players displaying signs of problem gambling.

This then allows operators to intervene via their customer support staff, who should be trained in how to assist and support players that may have a gambling problem or that may be showing early signs of developing one.

These are the steps the Gambling Commission wants to see operators take when it comes to protecting players.

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