Responsible Gambling Focus:
Casinos

 
Playing Safe was launched in 2013 by the National Casino Forum (NCF), the trade body representing all land-based casino operators, to put responsible gambling at the heart of their business. Adherence to the Playing Safe programme is a condition of NCF Membership and all casinos are inspected and accredited by its independent panel.

The NCF's social responsibility forum shares examples of best practice and successful initiatives amongst operators, ensuring customer protection is paramount and driving the responsible gambling agenda.

In 2015, the NCF launched SENSE, the first multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, and more that 10,000 players have enrolled in the last three years. More than 40% remain excluded and have not returned to casino gambling after two years.

Playing Safe, which is run by independent academics and industry experts, has set out six priorities for 2018:

  • Identifying the characteristics of safe play
  • Communicating this characteristics and encouraging gamblers to play safe
  • Identifying gamblers who are in a risky way
  • Implementing a selection of interventions to help those gamblers stop playing or to change their way of playing 
  • Communication with those gamblers pro-actively and, if necessary, intervening pro-actively
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of all parts of the strategy

Five key projects and areas of work are ongoing:

Focal Research
Since 2013, the NCF has been working with Focal Research, a Canadian company with two decades of research experience, to develop an algorithm that identifies risky patterns of machine play. After analysing the playing histories of more than 12,000 anonymous rewards cards holders, Focal Research has developed a model which identifies four levels of risk; four operators are currently trialling the model in a pilot project. They will be able to identify players who appear to be playing in a risky way, intervene and then chart the impact of the intervention.  This will provide a robust evidence-based approach to interactions with customers.

Limit-Setting
Several potential ways of encouraging customers to set limits are being explored. A research project will study customers' attitudes to limit-setting and ask what barriers are currently preventing them from embracing to. Multi-Operator trials will start in 2018, using on-machine prompts to encourage customers to take breaks. Workshops will be held with casino staff to discuss ways of encouraging the wider adoption of limit-setting.

Self-Exclusion
Playing Safe plans to carry out new research into customers' expectations of the scheme and the effectiveness of registration, following its evaluation of SENSE, published in 2018, which concluded that the scheme was having a broadly positive impact.  It is also considering how to provide additional support for high-risk customers who take themselves off the voluntary scheme and return to casino gambling. 

Communication
Promoting the principles of motive play and Responsible Gambling tools should be an important element of all communications with customers.  A review of all research literature is being carried out, alongside engagement with international operators, to identify best practice. Tailored approaches might be needed to communicate effectively with particular groups, such as young adults and the over-55s, and these should be tested with focus groups.

Evaluation
Evaluation is key to every Responsible Gambling project; operators are committed to providing evidence to the Gambling Commission that they are enhancing player safety by putting greater protections in place. Initial results form the Focal Research trial will be available by the end of 2018. The SENSE self-exclusion scheme is constantly evaluated and reviewed. The Impact of limit-setting interventions and messaging to customers will be evaluated externally.

Richard Noble, chairman of the NCF's Strategy Forum, says:
"We are using technology to ensure we protect our customers. We can monitor and reduce risk so we start to intervene pro-actively and before customers get into trouble rather than preventing people form gambling when they are already experiencing problems. Customer protection is at the heart of our business."

The Casino sector contributes to research, education and treatment, giving 0.1% of annual Gross Gaming Yield (GGY) directly to the charity GambleAware.