In the modern world, gambling addiction has become a prominent issue, which is often discussed in the casino industry news. This unpleasant side of the gambling business is also brought up at conferences and webinars.
Paul Dent, a gambling therapy manager at the Gordon Moody Association, has provided his expert insight into the problem of gambling-related harm and addiction to the games of chance.
Why sustainability and responsible gaming have become a trend in the global iGaming market?
I think there’s always been a trend. It’s just that “sustainability” was the word that was used by the industry to recycle clients without realizing or recognizing that there, actually, was a problem and that it was their problem. But I think the real issue is problem clients. And “sustainable” is about you putting them back into the system, whereas “problem gambling” is when you take them out of the system. So, it’s about which angle you’re coming from.
Could you give a brief overview of what is currently happening in Europe, and namely in the UK, in terms of responsible gambling? How the regulators are tackling this issue?
I think there are two issues. One is how are the regulators and also the groups, such as Gambling With Lives, that are putting immense pressure onto the operators and the government, dealing will the issue. And, I think there is also a huge pressure coming from the press and media, which is causing big issues.
Which tools work the best for identifying problem gambling behavior?
It is really hard to identify problem behavior through tools because problem gamblers are, actually, addicts. And addicts by definition would have suffered some kind of trauma at some point in their life. And that could be an early life trauma, or it can be a life trauma. And can happen at any time. So, though it is very good to predict it through AI, that doesn’t predict either of those. And someone can tiptoe around it at any time. Someone’s wife is leaving them, or they’re losing the job, or something awful happens. And person tries to escape from that through gambling.
In your opinion, how gambling operators can contribute to combating gambling addiction and problem gambling? What could the ops do from their side?
I think it’s about having a good relationship with the client. So that when things do become difficult, the client trusts an operator enough to actually have that conversation and understand that they should be using the responsible tools. And it is for their benefit and not just for the sake of the operators. The clients should not just be cut off and going elsewhere.