Operators this is your gut-check moment. Ask yourself, how well is my organization doing in responsible gaming? Is what we are doing best practice? How are others approaching this? Could we be more effective or cost-efficient? How can we improve? What new ideas we should be considering? Are we missing anything? Are we committed to harm reduction in the delivery of our gaming products?
Over the past decade we have seen a significant increase in the commitment to harm minimization by lotteries and gaming organizations around the world. Thanks to increased commitment by leading gaming organizations and increased monitoring and regulation in most jurisdictions around the world, the principals of responsible gaming are coming to the forefront as part of any gaming organizations product offering. Proper responsible gaming initiatives are essential to maintaining the public trust and are a cornerstone to the continued success of the gaming industry.
That’s why a software solution like Playscan is so important to gaming organizations in their ongoing commitment to enhance RG programs, minimize harm and continue to distinguish themselves from unregulated gaming operators whose motives may be less altruistic.
What does Playscan do?
For those who don’t know, Playscan is an industry leading software designed to help gaming operators detect unhealthy gambling among their players – and give them a tool that protects them. Playscan’s analytical system makes player aware of the risk of escalation – the change in actual behavior, feelings and thinking.For the last decade, the commitment to harm minimization has been one of the distinguishing factors between the regulated and unregulated gaming operators around the world. However, due to increased public awareness of the importance of harm minimization standards, many of the unregulated operators have also begun to implement so-called RG related elements into their product offering. Once again the lines between regulated and unregulated are being blurred – leaving players unsure of where they can go to be protected.
Understanding gaming behaviors
The foundation for all RG elements in any gaming organization is awareness and understanding. A key to successful RG programming is the ability for any gaming organization to fully understand the gaming behaviors of their players and the potential impact these behaviors have on each individual throughout the life of their playing relationship. The key for regulated operators is to use this information to ensure they take the necessary steps to reduce any potential harm for their players.
This is where Playscan can help regulated operators once again take the leadership position in helping to move the responsible gaming bar even higher.
Playscan provides an overall analysis of the players’ gambling behavior and informs each and every player about their individual status. The Playscan communication aims to raise awareness and seeks afterthought. This motivates not only the player to reflect upon his or her own gambling behavior – but also the gaming operator.
Throughout it’s evolution, Playscan is the only solutions provider that has continued to evolve and adapt its programming as the industry continues to introduce new innovations. And now, Playscan becomes the only RG software solution that has been independently evaluated by a group of RG experts.
Playscan – independently evaluated
Playscan reached out to Dr. Richard Wood, Director of GamRes and Dr. Michael Wohl, Director of the Carleton University Gambling Lab (Canada) for an independent review of several key assumptions regarding the impact and affect Playscan has on the playing habits of users. The 2013 comparative research tracked over 1,500 online players and compared those using Playscan with non-users over the same period. The definitive results are clear, by using Playscan, gaming operators can reduce harm and provide players with the tools to manage their risk behavior.
The independent research highlighted some key facts;
• Playscan users reported feeling significantly better informed about their gambling behavior after using Playscan.
• Playscan users feel more knowledgeable about responsible gambling and harm minimization and will increase their use of the available RG players tools.
• Playscan users show observable changes in their gambling behavior after they receive information from the Playscan system.
• And perhaps most importantly, the research proves that Playscan helps players to maintain a health risk profile for their gambling behavior.
As well, the research provided Playscan with some key recommendations including the implementation of a 6-point risk scale evolving from the traffic light indication previously provided to players. This provides a more granular communication to the player.
Not ones to remain complacent, the Playscan team has already been included this recommendation in the recent release of Playscan 4.
As well, Playscan provides a seamless solution across all platforms including mobile, web and land-based gaming activity, ensuring that players are protected at all entry points into your gaming system. Another key element is the ability to use Playscan for internal RG training and awareness – a key to deliver responsible products and services at all levels of your gaming organization.
With an RG solution like Playscan 4 available to operators around the world, one has to ask why any operator would not consider implementing a system that will provide a validated harm reduction solution that will also help regulated gaming organizations once again differentiate themselves from the unregulated gaming operators – ensuring a continued confidence by players in their gaming choice.
Mike Randall is an independent consultant in the area of Responsible Gaming and Shared-Value. He was the inaugural chair of the Independent Responsible Gaming Panel with the World Lottery Association. He is a regular speaker and contributor to responsible gaming discussions around the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Swedish national state-owned lottery Svenska Spel is the first operator that offers the latest version of Playscan to their players. In striving for a healthy gaming market a good gambling experience includes consumer protection. With Playscan 4.1 the players of Svenska Spel now have a world-class tool in their hands.
– Gambling should be a fun activity. The new features presented in the latest version of Playscan makes us confident that gambling stays fun. With Playscan 4.1 we are strengthening our responsible gambling initiatives further and taking new steps towards proactive harm minimization, says Lennart Käll, CEO of Svenska Spel.
New features has been added
With input from gambling addiction support groups and usability research Playscan 4.1 offers, besides the new risk scale, an in-depth-view of the risk analysis. The in-depth detail displays the risk factors that have been found and analyzed in the players gambling data. This design helps the player understand and further reflect on the risks associated with gambling. This design also runs on multiple platforms such as computer, mobile or e-gaming machines.
– The in-depth detail offers the players a mirrored image of their own gambling behavior. A very helpful feature if the player wants to understand more about the causes surrounding his or her risk analysis, says Henrik Hallberg, CTO of Playscan.
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
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.
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?
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.
Not long ago I visited the yearly forum on gambling addiction held by NGOs and support groups around Sweden, Norway and Denmark. When listening to the speakers presenting the latest findings and research about problematic gambling and gambling addiction, I was left with the thought: gambling addiction should not be about politics.
Gambling addiction is a psychiatric diagnosis that belongs to the group of ‘addictive disorders’ (as stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM5). Gambling addiction is classified as a nonsubstance disorder and what’s clear is that a person afflicted with this disorder really suffers. Like other similar addictive disorders, such as alcoholism, it is not only the person suffering the disorder that is affected. It also brings harm to his or her friends and family.
Recent figures from a Swedish longitudinal gambling study show that 75,000 children live with someone who has a gambling problem. For such a small country, that is a high figure.
It’s easy to close our eyes and wish that the problem would go away. It’s even easier to point our fingers at others. But the problem won’t go away, because gambling addiction is a real problem and it affects real people. The fact is that the gambling arena is expanding.
It is getting more intense and games are getting more accessible. We get exposed to gambling more and more. A recent study from England, written by Ofcom (independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries), show that 4% of all TV commercials are advertisements for gambling. On an average, a child is exposed to four gambling advertisements per week.
The debate is focusing a lot on finding the one “who is responsible” and “the owner of the problem”. Well, that one person does not exist. The discourse about gambling and gambling related problems includes a lot of stakeholders, such as operators, regulators, politicians, the healthcare sector, social services, and of course: the players. Since we do know a great deal of what the risk factors of developing problems are – let’s make sense of that knowledge and take full responsibility ourselves.
The gambling industry must focus on how they can contribute to harm minimisation – and decrease the possibility that their players develop gambling problems. How data analytics can be used to promote harm minimisation is the question. The science of psychology is trying to describe how humans behave – and then try to understand the reasons for that behaviour. It works in that order, first we need to visualise how people behave before we can understand them. Maybe the gaming industry could learn something from that?
A responsible gaming operator needs to have knowledge about the risk status of their players in order to act in a responsible way. For example, statistically unhealthy gamblers make up around 2% of the adult population. One question to ask is: how much of the operators revenue do they stand for? Data analytics and especially behavioural tracking tools are one way of getting that knowledge.
These tools find order in seemingly unstructured data and they measure the risk of developing problems. For the gaming provider, data analytics of gambling behaviour can provide intelligence about their player population and, as a consequence, find ways to act to minimise risk. This is a good thing not only for the player but also from a business standpoint since an unhealthy player is a viable risk, they are volatile and a possible ticking bomb of bad PR.
Sharing the information – gathered through the use of a behavioural tracking tool – is a good way for the gaming operators to act. This educates not only the player on how to avoid getting into trouble (and behave in irrational ways that affect their life by jeopardising relationships, education and their jobs). It also enables the player to make an informed choice about their gambling.
That same information could also be used for harm minimisation in a greater sense. If data, knowledge and information are shared with other parties within the gambling sector (regulators, academia and researchers, help lines and treatment centres) the sharing party will not only receive great PR, but the idea of what responsible gambling really is can be taken to a whole new level.
However, dogmatic minds must be left behind. Reflecting on how new research and tools can improve responsible gambling is a preferable approach.
When we talk to responsible operators who offer these kind of tools to their players they say: “There is not one thing that will work on its own – it’s the overall effort”. And that is the thing. There isn’t one single thing, one person or one actor in this industry that can solve the problem. The responsibility of solving it must be shared, but describing and understanding the problem is a good start. Sharing that knowledge and taking a cooperative responsibility is the beginning of raising responsible gambling to another level.
Responsibly has never been more “hot” as a topic and the gaming/gambling sector is no exception. Not only is it vital that we protect our players – it is equally important that the reputation and integrity of our organisations remain intact.
In the past responsibility was too often regarded as “worthy” – something to support/embrace because an organisation could or worse, because they could not avoid it for regulatory/legal reasons. Now it is a business necessity. Responsibility simply makes good business sense.
Founder of UK based Sustainable Marketing and World Lottery Association Responsible Gaming Independent Assessment Panel member John Luff explains why.
Responsible gambling embraces employee and retailer training, player education, treatment referral, marketing, game design….indeed the whole of an organisation’s attitude and approach.
So why does responsibility make business sense?
Every organisation is unique, and so the reasons for pursuing responsible business practices will vary for each organisation. However, these five key reasons remain constant:
Gaining regulatory acceptance
Increasing brand loyalty
Fostering employee emotional commitment
Winning supplier, partner, and distributor support
Improving organisational performance
Go beyond compliance
Regulators want independent, professional and transparent evidence that a gambling operator has the structures, processes, strategies, and overall culture that will best serve citizens in the regulators’ jurisdictions.
Nowhere is the regulator’s concern more focused than in the area of responsible gambling. Indeed, while operators may raise money for good causes as well as paying taxes, providing employment and contributing to society and the economy in other ways, the means are just as important as the end.
One of the principal precepts of medical ethics, “First, do no harm”, is as relevant today to the gambling sector as it is to the medical sector. Regulators worldwide are waking up to the effects of gambling related-problems on society and their job is growing in scope, size, and complexity. They are looking for proof positive that operators are doing their part to address gambling-related problems and those operators are striving to protect their communities from gambling-related harms.
All successful operators know that compliance is increasingly becoming an entry-level requirement. They realise that in presenting their case, they need to go beyond proving mere compliance.
Compliance will get you to the starting blocks, but it will not help you win the race.
This is especially relevant for gambling operators that face strong competition within their jurisdictions or are applying for licenses outside their jurisdictions. Not only does providing proof positive evidence of responsible structures, processes and strategies strengthen your business case – it serves as proof positive that you have taken your organisation beyond mere compliance. Today, if you want to be in business you have to demonstrate that you embrace responsible business.
The golden rule of marketing- trust equals brand loyalty
Today choice is increasing in all markets and sectors. But in no sector is it expanding as fast as in the gaming and gambling sector. Within the space of a few years it has moved from restricted player choice to the point where player choice is virtually exploding. Expanded player choice has been generated by the emergence of new suppliers, new products, new technologies, and new marketing strategies. It has been further enhanced by open legislation, trans-border possibilities, and convenient access to gaming/gambling platforms.
When consumers are confused or overloaded with choice, they turn to brands that they trust. Hence, as choice increases, so does the importance of your brand. This golden rule of marketing holds especially true in our increasingly global market. Players will remain loyal to and recommend the brands that are seen to have the players’ best interests at heart.
But it is not just about customer numbers; it is about maintaining good relationships with the right kind of customers. A good reputation for responsible gambling will help a lottery to attract the right kind of customer, and to retain a responsible, constant, and steady customer base. A good reputation can actually extend your customer base. Potential customers that may initially be put off from gambling are more likely to give a reputable operator a try. Perhaps most importantly, it is easier in any sector to retain a customer than it is to win back a lost customer. Nothing loses a customer more quickly than loss of trust.
In this context, responsibility contributes powerfully to the marketing mix. A responsible approach to business and to gambling in particular can be promoted via above-the-line marketing, through your social media presence, and in your lobbying activities. It is an important tool in getting your message across to such customer-influencing elements as the news media and consumer advocacy groups.
Employee commitment: Winning hearts and minds
An organisation cannot prosper without the faith and support of its members. It should permeate every aspect of the organisation – from the highest levels of corporate governance, down to the people that sell the products and how they are sold. There can be no more concrete evidence of an organisation’s true culture and commitment than its approach to responsible gambling.
Knowledge that your organisation has a world-class approach to responsible gambling evokes an employee’s emotional commitment and fosters pride throughout the organisation. Employees will be more likely to stand behind their organisation, work harder for it, contribute to its success, be more creative in promoting it, and – most importantly – endorse it outside the workplace, if they are proud to associate themselves with it. “You can’t sell it outside if you can’t sell it inside” may be a cliché. But it is a cliché for a good reason – it’s true.
Business partner and other stakeholder support
No organisation works in a vacuum. All organisations need suppliers, distributors, and other business partners for an ever-increasing variety of reasons. These business partners have a choice: whether to work with you or not. If so, how enthusiastically do they want to work with you and with what level of endorsement? Do they even want their brand or their business to be associated with you?
What applies to your customers and your employees, applies to your business partners as well. The same holds for other stakeholders, such as community groups, academic institutions, research bodies, and lobbyists. They all need to know that your organisation is reputable and can be trusted. They need to believe – indeed to know – that an organisation’s responsible gambling practices are reputable, trustworthy, and best-in-class.
The path to improved performance
All organisations – in their commitment to responsible gambling – will want to know the answers to the following questions:
How well are we doing compared to others – in our sector and outside?
Is our responsible gaming programme on a path of continuous improvement?
Is what we are doing best practice?
Could we do what we are doing more effectively, more efficiently, and more economically?
Are there any new ideas with regard to responsible gambling that we should be considering?
Do we have the best possible responsible gambling measures, structures, and processes in place?
Although internal audits and formal management accounting reviews will touch on all of these questions, an external responsibility audit can help the applicant clarify the answers to all of these questions through its precise structuring. Indeed, commitment to responsibility by its nature requires some form of external validation by a recognised and reputable agent.
The audit should embrace global standards, yet allow for cultural and regional differences. Individual national and regional forms of accreditation do exist, and many of them are excellent. But we live in a world where brand awareness has gone global, owing in large part to the “always on” nature of today’s technology. As a result, all stakeholders increasingly expect organisations to measure themselves against global standards.
The evidence required for responsibility relates to the day-to-day management of an organisation. Nothing is requested that should not be readily available as part of the organisation’s daily business. Therefore no extra costs or resources should be entailed by having to gather additional information or data to meet an external audit.
A responsibility audit should be designed to complement and improve the safeguards that individual operators already have in place – not meant to replace them. Similarly, it should not compromise regional, national, or international regulatory compliance nor should it conflict with professional requirements. They should, however, allow organisations to showcase their steps toward compliance and prove how their responsible gambling programmes go above and beyond compliance.
Conclusion – layers, guns and money
Of course, you do not have to choose responsibility. There is always a choice. But in my view the only choices are embrace, celebrate and communicate your organisation’s commitment to responsibility or in the words of Warren Zevon be prepared to send for “lawyers, guns and money”. Please put aside the guns but in an age of social media enabling transparency at the speed of light if you are anything less than responsible you will need the money and lawyers.
Playscan and National Council on Problem Gambling US has entered into a partnership agreement to ensure that players will receive North American specific responsible gambling information directly within the Playscan system.
As gaming operators in the US move forward with launching their online gaming channels, it is vitally important to ensure that the player population is fully informed about the risks associated with gambling.
The partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) ensures that all players utilising the Playscan system both online and land-based in the USA will find localised information about problematic gambling. The player will have direct access to National Helpline numbers – when needed the most.
The National Council on Problem Gambling is the national advocate for programs and services to assist problem gamblers and their families. The mission of the NCPG is to increase public awareness of pathological gambling, ensure the widespread availability of treatment for problem gamblers and their families, and to encourage research and programs for prevention and education.
The Norwegian national lottery, Norsk Tipping is the first operator to use Playscan on VLT’s as well as on all their old and new online-games. The player can access Playscan through both web and mobile. This takes consumer protection to the next level.
Launching the first VLT module and releasing Playscan in multiple channels, Norsk Tipping is at the forefront of responsible gambling. By using an multichannel personalized electronic ID (their mandatory player’s card), Norsk Tipping is unique in providing player data of all player activities and gives Playscan the perfect foundation to become the hub for all proactive responsible gambling activities.
By providing an informed choice early in the gambling experience, Norsk Tipping gets an opportunity to create a sustainable relationship with their customers. With Playscan they are able to provide players with a risk analysis based on their player behavior.
– Responsible gambling has always been an important issue for Norsk Tipping. We are proud to be the first operator to analyze gaming data via Playscan for our players, says Torbjörn Almlid, CEO of Norsk Tipping.
In addition to the implementation of Playscan there has been a focus on the importance of reaching out to the player and the organization regarding how to communicate and understand the effects and knowledge that you can gain from Playscan. Torbjörn Almlid continues:
– The Playscan team is highly professional, not only regarding the system but has also provided us with great knowledge regarding future communication and education on responsible Gambling.
The next step will be to continue the collaboration and expand the strategy to create a more sustainable and responsible gambling environment for the Norwegian players.
– We are delighted to work with Norsk Tipping, a company that takes responsible gambling extremely seriously. By implementing Playscan and in their vision of the next step for Playscan, they really show their commitment to their player’s wellbeing, says Andreas Holmström, CEO of Playscan AB.
Our product has been evaluated, tested and now also – twisted. We are very proud to announce the latest, the next: Playscan 4
– Playscan 4 is about communication; with players, with operators, with regulators in all channels. We build on years of experience and player feedback to make our information even more accessible, says Andreas Holmström CEO of Playscan.
Playscan has become known for its traffic light analogy when communicating with the players. We changed this into a scale of risk. With a six point scale Playscan is more granular and more precise. This enables the player to understand the gradual changes in their behavior. Playscan is now better framed to visualize the process of escalating gambling risk.
Playscan 4 is also equipped with improved customized (and smarter) recommendations to each player. These are now based on the specific game the player is playing – instead of an overall assessment.
Playscan is now a seamless experience across multiple gaming channels and it’s feature proofed for possible mandatory usage. Another new feature on Playscan 4 is the customization. When looking after your players, your brand should be the focus, not ours. We have made it simple for operators to customize Playscan and make it more adaptable to their specific brand and feel on the gambling site.
– Playscan 4 is an exciting continuation of the Playscan saga. By learning from all of our installations of Playscan 3 and the 100 million analyses performed in the series, we’ve made the good parts better, clarified what needed clarification and added a couple of extremely promising features, says Henrik Hallberg CTO of Playscan.
Playscan will embed GamCare’s services within the full portfolio of Playscan solutions for all approved GamCare gaming operators utilizing the Playscan System.
With numerous Online, Mobile, Retail and Land based gaming channels easily accessible and available – it’s important that the player is fully informed about their current gambling behavior. When helping a player who seems to need help it’s essential to ensure that the player is provided with good information about what problem gambling is – and knowing where to seek professional help.
Mark Knighton, Chief Sales Officer of Playscan AB says:
“Providing embedded direct access to all of GamCare’s services through the Playscan player interface will provide the highest level of consumer protection, directly to the player, when the player needs it”.
GameCare – the UK’s leading provider of information, advice, support and free counseling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling is the right partner for Playscan. With GamCare, players who need it are provided with professional and localized support
An innovative and award-winning program being used by U.S. lotteries is providing insights to schoolchildren into how gambling problems can be identified and addressed. True to the collaborative roots of the modern-day lottery industry, their willingness to share the program with others has led to it being seen in classrooms across the United States and other countries.
The program is called Beat Addiction, and its roots begin in Missouri. According to Missouri Lottery Chief Branding Officer Gary Gonder, the program was produced by his organization for the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling. “About a decade ago, we did segmented gambling awareness programs for older adults and the like,” said Gonder. “After we produced a poster and brochures for a youth awareness program, we felt like this segment needed more and special attention.”
After learning of a live-action addiction awareness theater production funded by a Canadian lottery, the Missouri Alliance approached a local theater group with ties to schools around the state. While this group had performed during assemblies on various topics important to students, the initial response from school administrators to a gambling awareness program was lukewarm.
“A lot of educators said they didn’t understand what we were trying to accomplish. They felt kids didn’t have issues with gambling,” said Gonder. “Since we didn’t seem to be getting very far with them, we decided to broaden the approach to cover different types of addiction – such as with drugs and alcohol – while also covering problem and compulsive gambling issues.”
While the program was effective for several years, changes in schedules followed by many schools meant the demise of the school assembly. As a result, in 2003 the Missouri Lottery produced a program to be shown via video during health classes, and the Beat Addiction program was born.
The program, recommended for grades 6 through 12, included a 30-minute program featuring personal stories of people in recovery from various addictions. A facilitator’s guide that encouraged group discussions and a poster were also included.
Gonder says work with local school officials was key in the early success of Beat Addiction.
“Our state Department of Education partnered with us to develop the curriculum,” he said. “When we were able to meet the state’s curriculum standards for personal and social development, school started to quickly embrace the program.”
More than 700 kits were shipped out in the first wave.
Gonder and other Missouri Alliance staffers kept track of how Beat Addiction was performing, and received important feedback from the students who participated in the program. “We started conducting focus groups. It became clear the kids reacted positively to the program, but that they needed to see more young people that they could identify with – and those young people needed to be more diverse,” said Gonder.
This led to a 2009 re-issue of the program, and this second edition (available in both English and Spanish) has been sent to more than 1500 schools in Missouri. The new video features more stories from kids about addiction issues, and has a widely diverse cast as narrators.
The video was produced in-house by the Missouri Lottery, and is a point of pride for Gonder. “People here really stepped up to make this project happen,” he said. “We had to shoot one pivotal scene where a car catches on fire, and our IT director here actually gave us an old car that was torched by our local fire department. Some of the kids that appear in the video were friends of the children of staff members here. There were many people at the Missouri Lottery who were connected to this project in one way or another.”
The presentation was a hit not only with schools around the state but also with other lottery organizations looking to reach out to young people. Lotteries in Kentucky, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Zealand adopted the program.
In 2006, the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (KLC) was looking for a way to spread the addiction awareness message to young people in the state. When staff members there learned about the Beat Addiction program, they approached the Missouri Lottery to see if they would share it. “The lottery industry in the U.S. has a great amount of cooperation between states, and Missouri immediately agreed to let us use their program,” said Chip Polston, vice president of communications, public and government relations for the KLC.
Kentucky decided to re-brand the program and call it Choices – There’s Always A Right One. New artwork was created, yet the video and curriculum from the Missouri program remained the same. In a joint initiative with the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling (KYCPG), more than 100 schools across the state have received the program.
“Research in our state indicates a significant amount of gambling behavior in middle and high school students,” said Mike Stone, director of the KYCPG. “Choices provides a generic message any school can use to allow the introduction to the issue of gambling addiction. We really appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Kentucky Lottery in distributing this program, and it’s a great example of industry‑council cooperation to serve a public good.”
Deborah Shockley is a high school counsellor in Winona, Missouri. She said students there were able to identify with the characters in the new video.
“The kids thought the whole video was very true to life,” said Shockley. “They said the characters in the video matched up with a lot of the population in their county.”
Gonder says stories like the ones in Beat Addiction need to be told. The number of young people facing problem or compulsive gambling issues continues to rise – but few want to acknowledge the issue.
“Problem gambling doesn’t get the attention as other addictions faced by kids,” Gonder concedes. “We put this program in place so kids would ask – do I know anyone who is like this? – and if the answer was yes, we could show them how to find help.”
Chip Polston serves as vice president of communications, government and public relations for the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (US). He is aboard officer of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling, a member of the NASPL responsible gaming subcommittee, and a member of the affiliates council and communications committee of the National Council on Problem Gambling (US)
To request a copy of the “Beat Addiction” program, contact Holly Koofer-Thompson at email@example.com or (573) 526-7467.
David Forsström, psychologist from Stockholm, Sweden, will write his PhD dissertation about Playscan.
The project will run for four years, supervised by Professor Per Carlbring – and the Playscan Team are happy that the project now has its beginning.
The study is planned and divided into five different part-studies; ranging from investigating how Playscan is used and by whom, interviewing Playscan users, and performing comparative studies in marketing and content to optimize the reach and effect of the tool.
The overall research questions to answer is: How is Playscan used – how does the tool perform – and what effect does it have on player behaviour?
“It’s exciting to get started with the project” says David Forsström. “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time, and I am happy that the cooperation with Playscan has started.”
“This will teach us even more about how our tool contributes to the gaming market” says Henrik Hallberg, CTO at Playscan. “Getting this level of attention and rigor is a good continuation of our mission – to build efficient tools for a sustainable gaming market.”
The position is financed by the Svenska Spel research council. Each part-study, when finished, will be published in peer-reviewed journals. The research is independent – the results will stand for themselves. Playscan will not have any influence regarding publishing.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) – is a common word in our industry today. But how do we interpret the words? CSR is about embracing responsibility for the company’s actions and creating shared value for all of your stakeholders. Our vision at Atlantic Lottery is to “Make Atlantic Canada A Better Place” and one of the ways we do that is through our CSR efforts. CSR is at the heart of everything we do at Atlantic Lottery and guides how we make decisions. It is critical that our internal ambassadors – our employees are well informed and well equipped to understand the company’s commitment to CSR and the role they play in it.
We wish to be active in our actions striving towards our CSR vision. Educating Atlantic Lottery employees on the role they play in advancing the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility mandate is core to helping us advance and improve our overall performance and commitment in this area. Therefore our employees have been trained on their CSR responsibilities through an online interactive program – which leads to a CSR Certification.
The program armed us with skills and knowledge on what CSR really is
The program was developed in partnership with the Swedish company Sustainable Interaction – a company that specialize in online training programs, web based self-help programs and diagnostic tools within the fields of social responsibility, addictions and psychosocial health. The program armed us with skills and knowledge to tackle issues ranging from internal initiatives through global topics including trends and best practices.
The idea behind it is based on the assumption that people’s attitudes are best changed if we manage to create empathy and a deep understanding of the situation. We need to change how we perceive a situation in order to incorporate a new behavior when we make sustainable and responsible everyday decisions.
The online program is the first of its kind in the lottery/gaming industry. It combines interactive applications; interactive situations; drama and documentary; interactive interviews and a pre and post evaluation to measure knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding CSR. The program was well structured and featured two levels.
The first level was created to facilitate the development of CSR as a core competence for every employees with a focus on creating an in-depth level of awareness of the CSR Program at Atlantic Lottery.
The second level focused on providing employees with a more global view of CSR and included more employee and CSR expert storytelling; more interactive applications and exercises. This created a greater level of engagement with employees.
All employees, from the kitchen staff to senior management, have completed both levels of the program and were awarded a CSR Certificate signed by our CEO, Brent Scrimshaw.
Today, the program is a condition of employment; completion of the program must be within 45 days of hire for new employees. Employees have told us that the content is informative, interactive and the format works for them – in short, a thourough success!
Thank you Kim Wilson for sharing your story on why and how Atlantic Lottery have managed to make responsibility present in everyday decisions. Kim Wilson is not only the Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility at Atlantic Lottery – she is also a member of the WLA Responsible Gaming Working Group. The working group has contributed to the the industry with several productions of responsible gaming guides – and Kim Wilson holds a clear voice when she states that “the gambling industry must operate with a perspective on consumer protection”.
Are you interested in the CSR certification program that ALC and Sustainable Interactions developed? Contact Kim Wilson at or Johan Brandsten at for more information.
Sustainable Interaction offers knowledge and tools that helps people and organizations to learn and progress. Their online training programs are developed through their in-house expertise in the field of psychology, pedagogy, web development and interaction design. Visit their website here.
Have you seenthe photograph of the construction workers having their lunch break sitting on a crossbeam? The famous picture was taken in New York in 1932 and shows a black and white reality: the men are dangling their feet at a height of 256 metres – with no safety harness in sight. This picture is supposed to promote a new skyscraper and the workers seem to enjoy themselves and they look pretty relaxed.
But what happens if one of the workers fell down? Today, safety in the construction industry is set by a strict system of rules – but the picture demonstrates how progress and safety is not always working simultaneously.
As we strive to innovate, produce and shape the future, we tend to forget to prioritise protection and safety. Development sometimes happens so fast that we don’t have time to learn from our past mistakes. But the past, like the picture of the men eating their lunch high up in the sky, tells us to be alert and thoughtful.
In the era of the digital revolution, or evolution as some would say, lotteries have a unique chance to be both alert and thoughtful. With new devices continuously entering the market, technological developments are driving lotteries to expand their services via several channels. And when pursuing these expansion strategies, a foundation of responsibility should lead the way; the operators who offer new forms of lottery games online or via the mobile channel, have a responsibility towards the player. The gambling industry deals with ethical issues and if these issues are not prioritised, the industry will not survive.
When we make decisions in today’s digital era, we are often well informed about our options; indeed, consumer power is an increasing factor that is as apparent in the gambling industry as it in any other consumer-facing sector. To some extent, this is perceived as a threat; a threat to profits due to the increased competition provided by the different alternatives. However, this is a development that we should embrace instead of oppose. Ultimately, if operators offer good consumer protection solutions, they will have a sustainable business as the consumer is more likely to choose the operator who offers them honest value for their time and money.
At some point during their decision making process, consumers will also ask themselves: ‘is this safe?’The player has a need and desire to understand the risks associated with gambling. Indeed, the player who knowingly plays in what they deem to be a healthy and safe environment is more likely to play for longer compared those who don’t. This argument deals with gambling addiction and problematic gambling and, thus, cannot be overlooked. Proactively combating problem gambling can minimise the potential risks, and that must be the common interest.
Most of us understand that we leave traces behind when we surf the net, and most of us are aware that our gambling data is being collected when we gamble. However, having the requisite tools in place is only the first step in providing adequate care for players. Operators need to be able to act on the results of their monitoring solutions, to avoid cases where players can quite rightly question, “why didn’t you help me when you saw my unhealthy behaviour?”
A solid set of responsible gambling tools must be offered to the player, just like the safety harness in the construction industry or the seatbelt in the car. And the responsibility to minimise harm is with those who offer the product, just as in any other business field.
Responsible gambling tools should be a natural and fundamental element within the overall gambling experience, and it should be offered at the right place at the right time; that is, fully accessible and not hidden away in a corner of the website. A player must have immediate access so that they can use it whenever they feel they need it.
If we look back at the picture from 1932, we can observe the changes and development that have taken place between then and now. We know that the construction workers needed new safety equipment when building larger scale buildings, and this is exactly what lotteries are facing when they move their games and players online. The players need the tools to be able to play in a responsible manner and that’s an essential guideline for new technical innovations. In this field, where the consequences can be significant, progress and safety must work together.
When the United States Department of Justice reversed their longstanding position that state governments were prohibited from legalizing and regulating online gambling within their borders, a number of agencies rushed to take advantage.
State lotteries in Illinois and Georgia and casinos in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey are all either offering online wagering or will be by the end of the year.
Regulators and operators in these jurisdictions all pledged their internet products would be safe and secure and would have protections in place to guard against underage play and gambling addiction.
Indeed, many go at least a little bit beyond the rudimentary responsible gaming requirements of the existing lottery or terrestrial casino sectors. For example, every one of the online gaming regulations requires age and ID verification for online gambling, yet lottery tickets in those states are sold in unattended vending machines, and no ID is required to access any of the gaming facilities.
However, none of the regulations to date come close to the more stringent European or Canadian standards, or NCPG’s own Internet Responsible Gambling Standards.
It is unfortunate because studies throughout the world find relatively high rates of gambling problems among those who gamble online. Internet gambling may attract those at risk for addiction, and it may also exacerbate existing problems, given the high speed and frequency of play, perceived anonymity, social isolation, use of credit or non-cash payment methods and 24-hour access.
Since online gamblers are known to have problems, it is important to require extensive responsible gaming policies.
These programs provide an opportunity to create informed consumers with access to a variety of information designed to encourage safe choices and discourage unsafe behavior.
We call for legislators, regulators and operators to think “outside the box” and embrace the potential of technology to enhance responsible gaming efforts, to improve customer satisfaction, to reduce risk and minimize harm, and to better balance the costs and benefits of legalized online gambling.
In some ways, gambling has always driven and been driven by technology. From the early use of the printing press to manufacture playing cards to the development of mechanical computers to calculate pari-mutuel odds, designers have harnessed their creativity for gambling-related projects. As the speed of innovation increases and the internet revolutionizes almost every aspect of our lives, we have the opportunity and the obligation to utilize information to design more intelligent responsible gaming programs and more data-driven responsible gaming policies.
After conducting lengthy discussions about Playscan with the leading gaming providers in China, Playscan is now ready to expand into this new territory.
Exiting times ahead – Together with Northberry AB in Sweden and FuSheng Interactive in Hong Kong, Playscan will position itself in the Chinese market. With their expertise and experience within high-growth sectors and new technologies in Asia – Playscan can now provide a solution in China that minimizes the harmful effects of gambling. The Playscan solution provides not only an informed choice to the player about their gambling behaviour. It also provides the operator invaluable information to proactively prevent problematic gambling. This enables them both to react and act.
“The matter of consumer protection is both being prioritized and highlighted around the world. We can now operate successfully on a global scale with our solution that creates awareness about problematic gambling,” says Andreas Holmström, CEO of Playscan.
Andreas continues, “With changes in the gaming regulation this year, the Chinese government is now taking a stronger stance on the prevention of problematic gambling. Therefore Playscan is honoured to be identified as the worlds leader in preventive responsible gambling solutions within this market.”
“We are delighted to work with Playscan in China, which is the second largest lottery market in the world. We believe Playscan have great potential in China and FSI will give full support on the development”, says Anders Holmgren Chairman FuSheng Interactive.
Playscan is the proactive consumer protection tool that provides the player with an opportunity to control and monitor changes in their gambling habits. Now, with its Playscan 3.7 version, the channels for communication is even more expanded and targeted: Playscan Retail is included as an add-on solution to the Playscan product.
Playscan™ Retail is a solution for all retail and land-based gaming operators. With Playscan™ Retail the benefits of Playscan are not just utilized and available for the online-player. It does now also administer the land-based player with a unique informed player choice. Playscan™ Retail provides the player with a complete overview of their gambling behaviour in print format.
Playscan 3.7 has a newly developed analysis engine. The analysis engine is a vital part of the system – it is the hub for analysing all the different Game Modules such as Bingo, Poker, Lottery etc. The new engine optimises the time efficiency of the player analysis – which greatly increases performance and scalability of the player database.
– The new features in Playscan 3.7 evolves the technical capabilities in behavioural tracking towards harm minimization, says Henrik Hallberg, CTO of Playscan AB.
Playscan is a technical solution that wants to communicate with players about their gambling behaviour, and when putting it in front of a player at a gaming site – we know it works.
Nevertheless, technical solutions are what they say they are. They are technical. The word solution, however, embraces something else. Solutions are constructed and created by humans, usually to fill some kind of purpose – in our case: to decrease problematic gambling. When we then offer Playscan to operators we leave them with quite of a challenge.
Even though we know that the communication within Playscan is good, the operators needs to familiarise Playscan to their own system, to their own employees and to their own players. It needs to be introduced, explained and most of all exposed to the players. In this process Playscan constantly asks the same question to the operator.
“What are your goals and objectives with Playscan and who are you doing it for?”
The communication scientist Karl E. Weick says that “pure data is flawed and incomplete; it contains only what can be collected and processed through machines”. This means that the social context in which Playscan is offered is of great importance to the tool – if it’s given value by the operators then Playscan makes sense both to the players and the operators.
A sensemaking process ends up with frames of knowledge and understandings. If the operator answers the questions above thoughtfully they’ll raise the bar within the field of responsible gambling. When this is done Playscan is not just a technical solution – it is a consumer protection solution.
The operators needs to be active in marketing and communicate Playscan towards the player in order to be successful with the tool – and the Playscan team offers knowledge on how it can be done.