When listening to decision makers and reading reports about the future of gambling politics one hears very nice words. Responsible Gambling is one of them. But what does it actually mean? What is it really, besides nice wordings?
Responsible Gambling is about several things. In this short article I shall try to clarify the concept of Responsible Gambling from my perception and experiences.
Responsible Gambling is, for example, how the operators market and sell their products. It’s about what kind of helping tools the operators provides and how they expose and market them towards the player. Helping tools are mostly voluntary and aimed for the players to keep track of their gambling, and the ability to test, restrict or disconnect itself from gambling. Responsible Gambling is also about what kind of games the operators choose to provide and market, how these games are designed, the size of repayment etc. It´s about the training and education the operators offer their staff, for example how to warn and inform about the risks associated with gambling and where to turn if a player has a problem.
So far, so good.
However, the most important issue of gambling is a bit forgotten in the debate. It is about the way in which gambling companies communicates with the player who is showing signs of a problematic gambling behaviour.
Actions and communication
How do the gambling companies get the player to reflect upon their own gambling behaviour in an accurate manner – without violating the player’s privacy?
What actions do the gambling companies take when they see a customer suffering from an obvious gambling addiction and where there’s reason to suspect that the player could damage themselves and others by their behaviour?
And what actions do the gambling companies really take when they see a customer, in a desperate manner, loose one million after another?
Should they act in a responsible way? Or should they just sit around and watch, collecting the money and hoping that the player himself will eventually come to understand and find the gambling company’s voluntary responsible gambling tools?
The goal of different actions in the name of responsible gambling is to put customers’ well being before maximum profit. It’s also about reducing the excesses of gambling, such as abuse, addiction and crime. But when it comes to this, the attitudes and knowledge varies tremendously between different gambling companies.
Many gambling companies do take this very seriously and is working actively on the issue, while many others make a clear distinction: some even argue that it’s not their responsibility. These gambling companies choose to not communicate with their customers. Some companies do not even have the technical means for identifying problem gambling. Moral responsibility does not exist in these companies and they have no problem with living on profitable gamblers.
In conclusion, it is time for a new modern gaming regulation and approach. Primarily to embed effective responsible gambling measures in the criteria for authorization and to change licensing and supervision.
Magnus Rydeving runs the company Spelnykter, operating in three areas: trainings/lectures on gambling addiction, consultant and adviser in gambling issues and motivational coach (motivational interviewing MI) for people with gambling problems. Magnus himself has a background as a former gambling addict.
Visit his website: www.spelnykter.se