– Amongst diversified approaches to Responsible Gaming
There is no sector-specific EU legislation in the field of gambling services. EU countries are autonomous in the way they organise their gambling services. In fact, many EU laws that provide for standard rules in the EU on various issues related to consumer protection such as the directive on electronic commerce expressly exclude gambling services and there is no EU wide rule on responsible gambling. In turn, the prevention of addiction in gambling is implemented differently within the regulations on gambling in Europe.
This article aims to give a comparative overview of what the industry calls responsible gaming, a very important aspect of player protection and corporate social responsibility underlining the modus operandi of regulators’ policy framework without going into the details of the specific legal provisions.
The starting point of this overview has to be the regulators’ collective aim – the prevention of gambling-related harm. Beside specific individuals, the need for protection is also an attribute of society in general because harms are buffered by it. When regulating some jurisdictions, e.g. Germany and the UK take the considerations of General Public Health into account. Also, Maltese jurisdictions adapted this approach within its Player Protection Directive in 2018. Mr Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) spoke in an interview early this year about “a duty of care for operators”. „Prevention“ is a key element of healthcare and it aims to avoid the development of diseases and/or their negative impacts with targeted measures and activities. Preventive measures can be assigned to:
- „universal prevention“, which targets to general population,
- „selective prevention“, which targets to groups at risk and
- „indicated prevention“, which targets to groups which are affected.
The more indicative targets become, the higher the density of interventions. This can be illustrated as follows with regard to gambling:
Furthermore, preventive measures can be differentiated according to whether they are based on individual behaviour (behavioural prevention) or on gambling environment (environmental prevention). This differenciation should not be underestimated, because it enables to comprehend the differences to different approaches to player protection throughover jurisdictions on gambling.
Behavioural prevention refers directly to the individual person and his or her individual health behaviour. This includes, for example, measures that strengthen one’s own health competence. The aim is to reduce risk factors through problematic or pathological gambling. From an operational perspective, this means all tools and measures which are targeted to customers, for e.g. information on gambling, problem gambling and gambling disorder, tips for safe gambling, any kind of limits and exclusions.
Environmental prevention takes the surrounding and the design of „the point of play“ into account. This basically consists of restrictions and/or obligations regarding availability and access to games of chance, possible curfews, staffing, supply restrictions, supplier-independent blocking and exclusion, easy access of a preferably short gateway to help. Legislations, who object to public health objects and follow a public health approach to „player protection“ in their jurisdictions, oblige operators furthermore to operate mandatory restrictions and tools, which intend to achieve prevention and combat of gambling related harm. These mandatory restrictions usually consist of:
- specific informational obligations,
- limits on wagering with a range from 2,- GBP on FOBTs in the UK to EUR 1.000,- per month and customer within German regulation for sportsbetting,
- warranties for the exclusion of excluded players by an interface to an supplier-independent excluding system. Differences are in the details of implantation (official vs. non-regulatory), duration and revocation,
- verifiable, early detection of problem gambling, e.g. by IT- based monitoring and interventions on problem gambling.
- encouraging players to
- gamble responsibly,
- use different measures to protect themselves,
- use professional help if needed.
Beside these customer facing measures operators are obliged to adhere to further legal requirements, which impact operations and corporate structure and procedures. In jurisdictions which prioritise player protection, it needs to be independent from economic goals. Such regulations place comparatively higher demands on operations and corporate structure, such as the qualification, competence and instruction powers of player protection officers. In licence applications operators need to describe in document frameworks respectively concepts, how each behavioural and environmental prevention measures are set into account. For the purpose of sustainability, the operation of player protection needs to be checked on effectiveness and needs to be adapted correspondingly. This is reviewed by authority, whether by own system proofs or obligatory reports.
Sustainability in the operations of player protection demands a qualified, strong regulatory execution. Similarly, different as the contrast in player protection measures, are the resources allocated to enforcement. A few jurisdictions with an objected, public health related approach to player protection, have managed to build strong enforcement authorities. Perhaps also because gambling is regulated centrally there; look at the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden to name but Therefore the enforcement of the MGA for a “duty of care” is more than welcome and promising.
About the author: Mete Tuncay, has worked for over ten years on the wide fields of player protection and interculturality. Hundreds of trainings, lectures, and counselling make him a proven expert in these fields. Mete currently provides trainings with Gluecksfall an association that offers help and advice for gambling addicts and those at risk. The association has a presence in Malta and offers open trainings, tailored RG trainings and consultancy for iGaming operators amongst other initiatives.
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