Risk-based approach is critical in our focus to reduce gambling related harm
Following an exciting end to the World Cup and the restart of the domestic football campaign, there is naturally a heightened focus on what this all means for UK punters - particularly on whether the cost of living crisis will create an ‘explosion’ of problems.
We all know that betting is a popular pastime for Brits. Almost half of all adults engage in some form of gambling - from playing the lottery, having a flutter on the football or horse racing to playing online casino games. For many, it forms part of our digital entertainment budget for the month - competing with the purchase of films, sport or music.
The last thing that Kindred – a listed PLC - wants is players suffering harm with their gambling. Everyone loses when someone loses control of their betting. However, claims that problem gambling is in our interest or that half of our revenue comes from problem gamblers are wide of the mark, lack any factual foundation and actually make it harder to solve the underlying issue.
And while things are changing at pace, there remains a lack of evidence in the debate that allows for poorly sourced headlines such as inevitable increasing levels of problem gambling or an explosion in unaffordable spending around tournaments like the World Cup.
That is why at Kindred - as part of our wider Journey towards Zero strategy - we continue to open our books on what we are seeing on our platforms. Through that commitment to offer unparalleled transparency and to work in partnership with stakeholders, we can share some of our data on the World Cup which challenges recent misconceptions about customer behaviour.
Our data shows that there was no increase in customer harm detection during the World Cup. What is most interesting, though, are the statistics on the use of voluntary responsible gambling tools on our UK platforms.
In Q3 of 2022, 45% of our customer base had at least one voluntary control tool on their account. But over the last 90 days including the World Cup, this has increased to 57%. For comparison against Euro 2020, around 20% were using RG tools during that tournament. That represents an increase of 185% on Euro 2020.
For U25s - where there is often a large focus in the debate - the results are similarly promising. In Q3 of 2022, 40% were using at least one voluntary tool. But in the last 90 days including the World Cup, voluntary tool use is up to 58%. And compared to Euro 2020 - where around 14% of U25s were using RG tools during that tournament - the 58% usage now represents an increase of 346% on Euro 2020.
We are proud that our investment in our innovative technology is having a meaningful impact across customer behaviour. Because where a player does show signs of harmful behaviour, we take action, with over 85% of those interacted with by our team now displaying healthier gambling behaviour as a result.
This has been made possible because of the huge advancement in technology - allowing us to develop our Player Safety Early Detection System (PS-EDS). We devote significant resources and effort towards improving our tools for identifying and helping potential problem gamblers.
This sort of approach has not always been the case of course. Technology has advanced rapidly across the world in a number of industries. Gambling is no different - with the sophisticated data held by gambling companies about its customers meaning that we can forge sophisticated solutions to tackling harm. We can, for example, analyse harm in a way that many other industries - such as the alcohol sector - simply can’t. This allows us to be incredibly targeted in our interventions - ensuring that the focus always remains on those that need help while not hindering the overwhelming majority who gamble safely and responsibly on our platforms.
This risk-based approach is critical in our focus to reduce gambling related harm. The over-simplification of the debate at times can be challenging - this is a complicated issue and requires complex solutions. For example, the debate about spend is often littered with problems. It can of course be a part of harm in some cases, but it is usually never the only factor. Harm can occur at low levels of spend - making some of the suggestions for a blanket approach for a low level of spend proposed as the trigger to check affordability for example - and therefore that sort of suggestion serves no purpose to minimise harm for customers who may be suffering below that.
Instead, a risk-based approach to regulation should be our collective focus. By identifying financial distress and limiting immediately, we can take decisive action where necessary. Then, everything else in a customer’s profile can be judged on merit and crucially backed by data and science.
Tom Banks - Head of Corporate Affairs for Kindred