Friday, 9 August 2013

The Reno Model and Informed Player Choice - What it Means Today for Gaming Operators

We have recently been inspired by a blog post by British Columbia Lottery Corporation titled 'Who's responsible for gambling responsibly' to write this piece on The Reno Model. For those unfamiliar with it, The Reno Model was developed by Alex Blaszczynski, Robert Ladouceur and Howard Shaffer and published in 2004 and sets out a framework for responsible gaming:

The Reno Model states that the ultimate decision to gamble resides with the individual and represents a choice and that to properly make this decision, individuals must have the opportunity to be informed. We at Bet Buddy agree with these principles. The model also states that unjustified intrusion is likely not the way to promote responsible gambling the gambling industry does not have the expertise or responsibility to diagnose or clinically treat individuals with gambling-related harms. Bet Buddy also agrees with these principles.

It’s worth emphasizing The Reno Model's point that to guarantee informed choice among gambling participants, the gambling industry needs to provide the minimum core information that is required for decision-making. We believe that the challenge the gaming operators face today is that technology and our understanding of behavior and risk in gaming has certainly evolved since the paper was published, so what may have been considered “the minimum core information” 5-10 years ago, such as generic information on odds and house edge for example, has most certainly evolved with opportunities to provide more individualized “minimum core information” such as individualized player messaging based on a sound scientific and evidence base of what is high risk gambling.

One of the recommendations from the model states that responsible gambling strategies should primarily target gamblers in the high risk cell, with the aim of preventing migration to the gambling-related harm cell. Whilst this makes sense, Bet Buddy believes that operators should also use research and technology to enhance operator education and prevention strategies to prevent those that are low and moderate risk from entering the high risk and problem gambler segments. Strategies such as personalized player experiences can be designed to be unintrusive and are highly scalable, whereas treatment, whilst absolutely necessary, is typically expensive and unscalable (note that in 2011/12, c.50% of the Responsible Gambling Trust's total £5m industry donations was dedicated to GamCare, the UK's biggest problem gambling treatment provider). So we think that operators should place equal emphasis on ensuring all their customers receive the right education and messages at the right time about responsible gaming, rather than focusing on the small minority who are problem gamblers.

A debate on what today “minimum core information” actually means would be a useful one to have as whilst the principles of the model remain extremely relevant, how to best implement the recommendations may not be clear to gaming policy makers, regulators and operators.