Responsible gaming: A nice catchphrase or something more?
If you have ever played at an online casino, you may have heard about responsible gaming. Each and every online casino states they are committed to responsible gaming. For many years, Malta-based online casinos have been at the forefront of creating tools for players to control their own gaming. However, many stakeholders against the industry argue strongly against these companies stating that their current actions are not enough and that players are able to register at another casino after self excluding themselves from one. While this is true, services such as UK based Gamstop have made it easier for players to exclude themselves from multiple casinos at once.
This article discusses whether responsible gaming is truly responsible or not. What is more, the conflict between control and individual´s choice is addressed. Enjoy reading.
Most common responsible gaming tools
More than a decade ago responsible gaming tools were somewhat limited. Since then, a lot has changed. Online casinos are able to provide more tools for players to control their own gaming, making the gaming experience more pleasurable and safe. The most common tools are deposit limits and loss limits which essentially limit how much a player is able to deposit or lose within a certain period of time. Usually when these are set, there are time limits under which players cannot raise the limit. These tools, however, are somewhat limited when considering all new tools that casinos may choose to use.
Many casinos are obliged to showcase the time spent playing as well as money lost each hour. In addition, customer support agents are taught to recognize the signs of unsafe or irresponsible gaming behavior. Some online gambling companies do this better than others, but it is a cherished practice for customer support agents to engage in. Furthermore, players can always either close their account temporarily or for good. More advanced tools include gaming history, play limit and more.
Control over the individual or individual´s choice?
Responsible gaming has been a hot topic not only within the industry but also among players. The gaming license providers require stricter measures towards responsible gaming. Furthermore, the public discussion around online gambling has turned more hostile. All this predicts that online gambling companies will have to create better responsible gaming tools, recruit more individuals knowledgeable about the topic as well as focus on less lucrative marketing.
On the other hand, players as well as the online gambling industry wants room for less strict regulations. Most players are playing in a recreational way. What is more, the online gambling industry has been able to challenge gambling monopolies in many countries which many stakeholders consider as a valuable thing. One example regarding more flexibility towards players are non Gamstop casinos which are casinos targeted for UK players. These casinos do not utilize Gamstop, a self-exclusion tool.
The question whether more or less control is better is not easy. Some players wish to have more tools to control their own gambling behavior whereas others do not need them and feel annoyed by imposing tools to them. The overall trend seems to be towards more regulation since the license providers want to polish their reputation by being more strict towards the companies.
Responsible gaming – What to expect in near future?
As mentioned above, more actions towards responsibility are going to be expected from online gambling companies. Some companies are seeing it as a struggle whereas some companies see responsible gaming as a good way to brand themselves as a reliable and trustworthy online casino. It is likely that companies are going to recruit more responsible gaming specialists as well as reach for players that showcase suspecting patterns of gambling.
When it comes to marketing, however, things are a bit more complicated. Many see advertising as contradictory to responsible gaming which would mean that no casino should advertise their offers in newsletter, main pages or text messages. In practice, no casino can afford to stop marketing activities as they would be crushed by their competitors´ marketing activities anyway. However, some changes are starting to happen. Not many online gambling sites promise guaranteed winnings anymore. In fact, it is more common to include a reminder telling players how bonus offers are there for recreational purposes.
Final and perhaps the most important aspect where changes are to be seen are related to technologies utilized towards better responsible gambling. Although bots and other tools are good in recognizing an individual´s unstable behavior, a good chunk of the work is still done manually by individuals working in responsible gaming departments. This department is often relatively small meaning that not all cases are handled. Technologies regarding artificial intelligence are expected to help gambling companies to handle the task of recognizing players with possible challenges towards gaming.