In a speech at the Regulators’ Lunch at ICE, Philip Davies MP argued that machine algorithms could be a key part of the solution to tackling harmful gambling while allowing ordinary consumers to enjoy betting terminals responsibly. IBAS’ John Samuels examines the claims.
With a record breaking attendance of over 30,000 the ICE Totally Gaming exhibition, at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre, proved once again to be a ‘must attend’ event for all involved in the gambling industry.
Certainly for an ADR service such as IBAS, where we debuted with a stand at the Exhibition, the exercise of having a physical presence was eye-opening and worth the effort.
Not only was it a beneficial exercise for IBAS, but we also gained the distinct impression that our many visitors to the stand, including stakeholders and other representatives of the industry, appreciated the opportunity to meet and discuss current topics with us.
It was also interesting to attend some of the fringe meetings and gatherings. One in particular, the Regulators’ Lunch with its guest speaker Philip Davies MP, was particularly informative.
Central to the MP’s speech was the call to operators to use latest technology to combat and deal with some of the industry’s current problems. He touched on his awareness of identity recognition and betting pattern analysis applications that can assist in dealing with current problematical issues.
Davies coupled this with his core belief: that he does not see why the overwhelming majority of responsible gamblers should suffer a restriction in the spend of their leisure pound, just because of the small minority who may have a gambling problem.
So, he suggested, rather than spoil the enjoyment of the majority, technology could possibly be installed that would recognise t h e traits of a problem gambler, causing a gaming machine to be stopped or slowed down while branch staff were alerted to a potential problem. Of course, these concepts pose as many questions as they answer, but they certainly give food for thought.
Other issues touched upon included the suggestion that operators should not only work together on problem gambling issues but maybe individual operators should also strive to go one stage further and individually excel at introducing initiatives that would be of benefit to any problem gambler. Or conversely be of help in recognising, and hindering, the actions of money launderers.
Other areas for potential improvement were highlighted. But some operators may feel that all is well, or at least that enough has already been done and that not much more needs to change.
Maybe any such operators should refer to the recently published Gambling Commission ‘Gambling Participation in 2016, Behaviour, Awareness and Attitudes’ 2016 Annual Report.
In answer to its question ‘Do you agree that gambling is conducted fairly and can be trusted?’, fewer than 38 percent of those that had gambled in the previous 12 months answered ‘yes’. This compared to over 60 percent who were asked the same question in 2008. Seemingly, the perception from those who use and who try to take enjoyment from the industry is that the industry is moving and acting in the wrong direction.
But why has there been such a large dip in how the industry is perceived? Maybe a clue can be found in IBAS’s own stats. The growth in the number of complaints and disputes far outstrips any growth in the number of people participating in gambling. Maybe too many of those respondents were those who had come up against, and lost out to what they had considered to be unfair, online operators’ Terms and Conditions and bonus offers.
No wonder then that the Gambling Commission has encouraged the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to carry out a review on how the industry operates, and with regard to Terms and Conditions, and how bonus offerings are marketed and promoted.
Needless to say, the CMA findings are awaited with much interest, at least in the IBAS office.