A new initiative – Player Awareness Systems (PAS) – which helps people avoid gambling-related harm has been launched by the Association of British Bookmakers at the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) annual conference.
PAS is a response to the RGT’s ground-breaking December 2014 research that showed it was possible to distinguish between problem and non-problem gambling behaviour by players using gaming machines in licensed betting offices. All members of the ABB have signed up to the initiative, which is believed to be a world first in retail betting.
How PAS works
- Systems analyse the behaviour of those playing on gaming machines when they are logged in to a customer account
- Customer behaviour is then assessed against a range of markers of problem gambling
- Alerts (via text, email, or on-screen) can subsequently be sent to players. These include signposting to responsible gambling tools such as setting limits on machines or self-exclusion, and directing customers towards the National Gambling Helpline / gambleaware.co.uk or to speak to a member of staff
- PAS encourages customers to think about how they are gambling. Continued problematic play may result in direct interaction from a member of staff
- Currently, a variety of analytical algorithms are being used by member companies which will ultimately lead to more effective processes for each operator as best practice and learnings are shared
- PAS will be independently evaluated during 2016
The initiative was developed during 2015 by an ABB-led working group that included representatives of Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, William Hill and machine manufacturers SG and Inspired (on behalf of independent bookmakers) with the RGT and Gambling Commission as observers.
“This is an important and innovative step in our programme of activity to promote responsible gambling, which has included implementing the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, introducing the second edition of the responsible gambling code of conduct, and implementing restrictions on stakes of over £50 on machines. PAS enables those using gaming machines to be more aware of how they are playing and encourage them to reflect on their behaviour and modify their play.” said Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the ABB.
Jim Mullen, Chief Executive at Ladbrokes said “At Ladbrokes, our Board fully support the principle that responsible gambling is a non-negotiable part of how we do business. We welcome the ABB PAS initiative, as it once again demonstrates that within our sector, we continue to listen to the facts about problem gambling and then take action in a collaborative manner on matters designed to reduce potential harm”.
James Henderson, Chief Executive at William Hill, added: “William Hill is fully committed to delivering an effective solution which embraces behavioural analytics to enable targeted interaction with customers who may be engaging in harmful behaviour. As a major operator we have an obligation to lead in this area and I have made clear to my senior management team that I expect that we deliver on our promise to reduce gambling related harm.”
The initiative has been welcomed by a wide range of bodies involved with the gaming sector.
Marc Etches, Chief Executive of the RGT: “When the RGT published independent research into machine gambling in British bookmakers in December 2014, we hoped to see a positive and a coherent response from the bookmaking industry to minimising harmful play among its customers. Although further work is required, this is a promising development. We look forward to working with the ABB and its members on the development of a tender for independent evaluation of this initiative, and analysing the insights such an evaluation will provide.”
Dirk Hansen, Chief Executive of GamCare, the UK’s national organisation for gambling problem help, said: “We see daily the negative consequences resulting from problem gambling, and it’s encouraging to see the industry responding to tackle this head on. The Player Awareness Systems is a powerful step in the right direction and we hope it can make a real difference to alerting customers to problem behaviours, and signposting them to the help that is available.