Disclaimer: This article is a tribute to the women and men of our industry who worked so hard to create the awareness that gambling problems existed in our industry and that they had to be addressed. Their hard work to build awareness, create and integrate policies and procedures must be honored by evolving the incredible legacy they have left us by embracing the tech and tools of our time.
The Good Ole Days
You might remember or heard stories of those infamous Saturday afternoon drives in the ‘70s. The sun was shining, the music was blasting, and Dad had a beer between his legs and the four kids in the back were jumping, playing and seatbelts were not even a thought in anyone’s mind. Even worse, does anyone remember that uncle at the Christmas dinner table that was so drunk that everyone laughed and wondered how he would ever make it home driving in that condition?
Awareness is a Much-Ignored Principle of Responsibility
In the 1970s, the awareness of the fatal consequences of drunk driving and not wearing seatbelts was low. This article is not about debating why it was so but rather to shed light on the word awareness. Awareness is the focus of why we have to honor those that have worked so hard to educate on the risks of addiction much like M.A.D.D. did for drunk driving. It is our responsibility to honor their hard work and dedication and embrace the tech and the tools to evolve responsible gaming, now.
To realize the obvious, we often must compare lack of awareness in one field with the abundance of it in another. To that effect, it is important for the land-based gaming industry to turn to online gaming and sports betting for awareness, inspiration and a path forward. In today’s world, we have online gaming that is mature, sports betting that is growing and thriving and both are real-time data driven with KYC (know your client) as the foundation of legitimacy, transparency and traceability.
It is impossible to even fathom online gaming without KYC as it ensures that organized crime does not infiltrate sites, launder money and evolve our online industry into a criminal haven. KYC has even a more noble mission to protect players as the real-time data ensures that policies and limits are set and enforced by automated means instead of placing so much burden and responsibility on humans to try and detect potential issues.
The Path to Success
Evolving the land-based gaming industry to a place of automated, technology-driven responsible gaming can and should happen in several steps so as to not attack or threaten the status quo. Here are some suggested steps to begin the path to protecting players and increased profitability as a safe player base can be marketed much more efficiently.
In today’s world, everything is in real-time, all the time. It would be impossible to perceive our world not evolving in real-time. This means that it is time for the land-based casinos to move away from technologies that are not in sub-zero speed. Why? Addiction is subtle and happens over time and nudges, pokes and prodding must happen at the very early stages to ensure that the player becomes aware that they need a break or to step away. For this to happen, interaction must happen in real-time, or the addiction energy will set in.
It is false to think that technology driven responsible gaming monitoring must have KYC as a foundation. It is the ultimate goal as responsible gaming can be paired with highly lucrative marketing, however, it is not needed in the infancy stages. To understand addiction, you need real-time data about speed of click, denomination changes, cash-ins and game changes. All of these parameters and more can be set to follow players anonymously. The algorithms learn over time and become much more precise than most realize. From there, all that is needed is an intervention strategy to bring awareness to the player that they may be overstepping healthy boundaries. With real-time data, you can associate behavioral patterns to healthy or unhealthy gaming sessions and send alerts to casino staff to monitor the right people at the right time to protect them from themselves.
KYC and Marketing
We often look at KYC as a negative thing in the land-based gaming industry. That will change rapidly with the advent of mobile cash-in and out directly at the gaming machine. Moreover, KYC is the foundation of a profitable marketing program and casinos that have the most KYC players in their database usually have the lowest cost of marketing per player. This is where responsible gaming and marketing come together and shine. If the algorithms are protecting you from getting into trouble, then marketing can ensure you are properly served, marketed to and compensated for your loyalty and engagement.
It is All in The Math
In a paper-based world, we are locking the barn after the horse has been stolen (one of my Mom’s favorite expressions). We are unfairly putting pressure on casinos to turn shift managers, floor staff and employees into human behavioral specialists. None of this makes sense when the technology exists to eliminate (not manage) this risk. With real-time data, with algorithms analyzing player behavior in real-time, with alert systems ensuring the right people are aware with a strategy of how to intervene at what stage, responsible gaming can evolve to addiction prevention.
In industries all around us, real-time data is feeding algorithms that we are using every day without knowing to make decisions. From the weather to a purchase at Amazon, algorithms are consuming data to learn and fine-tune understanding of events and behaviors to make decisions.
The Fear and Why Now
The land-based gaming industry has a general reputation from the public as a haven for money laundering and addiction. Whilst this is not true, the current technology model does not offer the guarantees or the safeguards necessary to clearly and proudly broadcast to the world the integrity, transparency and traceability of the land-based industry. This is rather paradoxical considering online gaming and sports betting have applied state-of-the-art technology to monitor and react in real-time.
It is even more difficult today to defend land-based gaming when the two adjacent segments are KYC driven and higher performing and more profitable from a marketing perspective. Will land-based gaming fade away as players move to a more powerful recognition-based system such as online gaming where KYC has become the driving force of profitability?
Who Must Act Now
With all due respect to all the actors involved (regulators, suppliers and operators) the only actor that has been tasked with all the burden is the only one who should have none. Operators have been put in a very difficult position to monitor the impossible without the correct tools to do so. Regulators must act to create policy to enforce KYC. This would alleviate the burden on operators to decide if they should go KYC. Everyone is scared to take the risk to lose clients in the quest for legitimacy and safe, more precise marketing. Casino suppliers must act to provide real-time cloud technology that Regulators can monitor to ensure blacklists are global and enforced without human intervention. This is all simple, all exists and all in operation in our Gaming World in jurisdictions that are ahead of the curve.
The Final Word
Gaming is fun. Gaming is essential to the economies of tribes and states. Gaming has to leave behind gambling and become a highly competitive entertainment option for people wanting to enjoy themselves in a safe environment. For this to happen, we must evolve to real-time data flow that uses technology to detect and eliminate the bad so that we can focus on more fun and entertainment in the good. In our real-time everything world, time is money and real-time will make more money if we evolve from responsible gaming to technology-driven addiction prevention.