ResponsibleGamblingVLT_playscan

Responsible gambling-tools in e-gaming machines

There are several ways to help players make responsible decisions when gambling. These ways are gathered under a (pretty big) “responsible gambling”-umbrella. However, this umbrella looks different depending where you are gambling – if you gamble online or in a land-based environment; in your retail store or at your casino. The politics and regulations leaves the gambling industry with a lot of opportunities to decide how that umbrella should appear – so why don’t we grab the chance to make it big enough to actually be responsible?
 
Folding up the responsible gambling umbrella, i.e. taking responsibile gambling seriously, is a lot of hard work for the gaming provider. It includes various actions, such as assenting to the responsible marketing principles, only offer games that has undergone a “responsibility check” and to educate the staff on the ethics of responsible gambling. Another important part under the umbrella is to empower the player to make conscious decisions.
 
That includes offering the player ways to keep control of their gambling e.g. with limit-setting tools. Another example is to inform the player of their risk level and actual gambling behavior with a behavioral tracking tool.
 
We at Playscan would say that this is where the dividing line between online and land-based gambling runs – what kind of RG-tools are offered and in which channel. Yet today there are very few examples of limit-setting or behavioral-tracking tools when it comes to retail or land-based gaming. Why? Is it not possible to provide retail or casino players with these kind of tools? Ofcourse it is possible, but we need to change or at least modify our understandings regarding what land based gaming is – and how it differ itself from online gambling.
 

Change the way we understand “land based gaming”

 
Today it’s possible to provide players with responsible gambling tools, such as risk assessment based on player behavior, due to the fact that the e-gaming machine has experienced technical changes. VLT’s or betting-terminals are not an anonyms sensation anymore. For example, the traceability that’s characteristic for online gambling does often also apply on land based gambling. The operator can centrally automatically monitor every VLT machine. This means that one way of looking at land-based gaming today is that its just another gaming channel where a behavioral tracking tool, like Playscan, works perfectly fine.
 

To provide the player with a weekly risk analysis the solution needs 2 things

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The first thing needed by a behavioural tracking tool, such as Playscan, is gaming data. The information is transferred from the game-provider and analyzed in their Playscan-risk analysis system.
In addition to the gaming data a behavioural tracking system also need to know the identity of the player in order to make a personalized risk assessment.

 

Today, it’s common with some form of player loyalty card when gaming. These cards are used for the purpose of identifying the player. The information is already often used for marketing purposes – and it is the same information that is needed for tools like Playscan to track and assess risky gambling on an individual level.

By combining the gaming data with the identity of players it is possible to inform them when their behavior starts to become risky. This empowers players to make conscious decisions about their gambling, catching developing problems at an early stage.

 

Has this been done anywhere?

 

Lets take a look at Norway. The famous Norwegian VLT story started with an overall inspection of the gambling machine. What is the best way to deal with the machines and control the negative effects?
 
The Norwegian government answered the question in 2007 with a total ban. Though, the second answer was to replace the old machine with new technology, together with a more restrictive distribution. The state-owned gaming provider, Norsk Tipping, introduced a machine that was connected to one central server. Along with a multichannel personalized electronic ID (their mandatory player’s card), the machine could now answer questions like:

What game did you buy, how many tickets, when did you buy and where did you buy? Did you win/loose, how much, on what game and at what date?

Last month Playscan started to analyze data from VLT’s physically standing all around Norway. This added another dimension of knowledge in the understanding of player behavior and the effect of RG-tools.
Players at the Norwegian state lottery Norsk Tipping are now provided with an early warning if their machine-gaming starts to become risky – and this is a big step forward towards the goal to offer RG-tools in the land-based gaming environment.

 

The bottom line

 

The bottom line here is to bring principles of what we have learned from gambling online – to gambling in retail stores, betting shops and into the casinos. The channels don’t differ in any dramatical way anymore – and as new technologies are introduced, responsible gambling can adapt and reach a wider audience.

How to successfully launch responsibility at a gambling site

Playscan is a responsible gambling solution. When it is active and live at a gambling site it’s surrounded by sparkling and attractive games. Playscan is not the primarily utility of the site, that’s a fact. However, Playscan is a necessary part because it offers the player control: it provides information on gambling behavior.
The challenge is not always to convince a user to activate Playscan. It’s also to convince the operator to share the story of responsibility: to simply display and market the responsible gambling-section of the website and responsible gambling-tools.

 

Our costumers are always our story and this article describes the strategy and lessons learned form our recent installation at Norsk Tipping in Norway.

 

What to consider before a launch?

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When implementing a whole new RG-section and a new RG-tool it’s important to understand and clarify the motives behind the decision. If not, you can’t really understand the “aftermaths”. However, a bit contradictive – the motive and strategy will probably change over time when knowledge about player behavior is being communicated and processed within the organization. In the startup-phase questions like “why are we doing this?”, “what results do we expect?” and “how will this affect the overall business?”, need to be discussed in order to work in a proactive way: to constantly raise the bar.

 

Another question, closely associated with the overall strategy is whether offering Playscan as a voluntary or a mandatory tool. A mandatory usage of Playscan means that the operator is communicating with all their players that have a risky gambling behavior. However, a common initial approach is to offer Playscan on a voluntary basis, just as Norsk Tipping did. When doing that it’s important to understand the different player segments.

That is key to further understanding the distinctive needs the players have. Prior to launch, Per Einar Karlsen, Responsible Gambling Advisor at Norsk Tipping, and his team defined target groups. One of those was “new customers” who wanted to try out new games that were available. Another target group was the “high spenders”. These designated segments helped the operator direct their efforts and strategically plan their activities.

 

 

When planning turns into action

 

The same day Norsk Tipping launched new games at their gambling site – they also launched Playscan. At the launch day Norsk Tipping communicated “responsibility before profit” in their press release to all their stakeholders:
“Norsk Tipping wants to offer attractive games to their players. However, it should be offered with sobriety and not encourage problematic gambling behaviors. Therefore, Norsk Tipping introduces several tools, for example Playscan and the limit setting tool all players must use, that will help the player make conscious choices.”
The players got introduced not only to new games but furthermore to a whole new RG-section at the gambling site. No less than 4000 players activated Playscan during its day of launch. Per Einar explains why responsible gambling was a central part of their launch:

 

“It was important for us to connect and to reach out with the message of responsibility to old and new costumers, both via web and the mobile channel when we launched these new types of games. “

 

Per Einar explains: “Information overload is always something to respect and consider in every marketing activity. Since the registration-process is quite a procedure, a challenge was to also market Playscan without overwhelming the player.”

 

After registering at the gambling site, the new costumer got a message from Norsk Tipping in which they were encouraged to check out Playscan. As many as 13% of all the players who tried out the new games also activated Playscan.

 

 

Per Einar continues:

“We are now noticing that a great portion of the players that decided to activate Playscan are the ones that really need it – the high risk gamblers. And this is what we hoped for. The success is about knowing that these players are using the tool. Over time, it will be a success to see these players lower their risk scores.”

 

The players that haven’t activated Playscan are getting a reminder of their option to do so every three months. Norsk Tipping will continuously evaluate this strategy: what kind of player is using the tool? Are we targeting the “right” ones? If not, how do we adjust our strategy?

 

“Direct marketing with the theme of responsible gambling, based on our designated player segments, is the way forward for us. We want to establish a dialogue with players, especially the vulnerable ones. Playscan is a helpful tool for that”, Per Einar explains.

 

The risk analysis that Playscan provides is only possible if the player’s gambling data is registered. By using a multichannel personalized electronic ID (Norsk Tipping’s mandatory player’s card), Norsk Tipping is unique in providing player data of all player activities. This gives the opportunity to also include the gambling activities that take place at the retail stores. Moving forward, Playscan and Norsk Tipping are implementing a retail solution.

 

A process of innovation ahead: Setting the goal of being a responsible gambling provider is easy, the tricky part is to actually act in a responsible way – and most of all, getting your players to feel it. In this process it’s clear that when Norsk Tipping connected their players with new games, they also connected them with new RG-solutions.

 

“Today we position ourselves as a responsible gaming provider and we intend to keep that position. How do we get even better? That is the challenging, but important, question ahead”

 

It’s also about the non-actions: Norsk Tipping do not send sales-oriented marketing to a player that is showing signs of risky gambling behavior.

 

Lessons learned from Norsk Tipping so far tell us that launching responsibility requires both a portion of planning and a portion of faith: faith that their players understand the good in using RG-tools, if they are offered. Most players make wise and rational decisions.