Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Brief Re-cap from the NCRG and G2E: Part 1

It has been a while since we last blogged and we are sorry! This is due to the hectic conference season and demand for Bet Buddy products and services, but we are now back on the blogging trail. We wanted to take this opportunity to re-cap on what were excellent NCRG (National Center for Responsible Gaming) and G2E conferences, specifically two of the panel discussions that Bet Buddy participated in. Here's our re-cap on the first of these panels, the NCRG Roundtable on Online Gaming: Regulating Responsible Gaming on the Internet.

The session was chaired by Alan Feldman, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at MGM Resorts and Chairman of the NCRG, and included Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Mark Lipparelli, Former Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the Remote Gambling Association, and Simo Dragicevic, CEO of Bet Buddy.

As anticipated there was significant debate about the possible cross-over between social and real money wagering. Some believed that the player wagering characteristics and player types are very different between the two forms of gaming, with very few players making the cross-over from social to real money wagering, whilst others felt that the game mechanics between the two forms of gaming can be very similar. For example, Dr. Jeffrey Derevensky (McGill University) made an excellent point to Mitch Garber, in that given many youngsters play Caesars social games on Facebook such as Slotomania, Caesars has an excellent opportunity to use such games as means to educate younger social gamers about responsible gaming in real money wagering.

Debate also shifted towards the regulatory regime implemented in Nevada ahead of the launch of internet poker. Mitch Garber stressed that the requirements put in place by Mark Lipparelli and his team were more strenuous than his experience in the UK regulated internet gambling market when he was CEO of PartyGaming, specifically around money laundering checks and requirements to verify players' locations. However, when Mark was asked about whether Nevada would be implementing a central self-exclusion database which all licensed operators could use, he said whilst Nevada seriously considered this option, they didn't take this route from day 1 due to the regulator not having sufficient technical ability to develop and host such a service. Whilst we agreed with Mark's assertion that the regulator would require to partner with other specialist providers to deliver such a service, we believe there is sufficient weight of evidence for all regulated markets to adopt such an approach (for more on this topic read Bet Buddy's research into multi-operator self-exclusion with GamCare and Salford University).

There was also debate around what future directions research in problem gambling and Internet gambling should take. Simo Dragicevic stressed that the scientific community and industry should now look to start testing new tools and systems with actual players to assess their effectiveness in influencing behaviours, and whilst Clive Hawkswood supported this approach, he stressed that there are still many differencing view points in the scientific community about what is the best approach to do this, which may be hindering adoption. Alan Feldman asked whether internet gambling companies had developed universal algorithms that could identify people who are at risk for developing problematic gambling behavior. Whilst Mitch Garber stressed that Caesars do place analytics at the heart of their operations and use such approaches, we feel that we are still some way off from being at the point where the industry can adopt universal approaches (although this is not inconceivable).  

In our next blog post, we will highlight the key discussion points from the G2E Panel on Proactive Responsible Gaming, which was chaired by Connie Jones, Director of Responsible Gaming at IGT and included Joachim Haeusler, Head of Responsible Gaming at, Hillevi Stuhrenberg, Head of Responsible Gaming at Betsson, and Simo Dragicevic, CEO of Bet Buddy.