Exclusive Q&A with GoodLuckMate CEO and Founder Nerijus Grenda
With responsible gambling always at the forefront of gambling discussions and with all eyes on the UK as it conducts its unique review of its gambling laws, there could be some big changes in the industry as a whole.
GoodLuckMate CEO and Founder Nerijus Grenda is advocating for the iGaming industry to go even further in its efforts to protect vulnerable gamers. And he believes technology is the key to eliminating cases of human error that can lead to costly lawsuits and fines.
European Gaming is catching up with Grenda to explore how the industry might adapt over the next few years, whether through changes in the law or through mutually beneficial cooperation.
First, how has the industry changed its stance on responsible gambling? Do you think things are going in the right direction?
I have to say that responsible gaming has made great strides in the past decade. There is a lot more awareness of the issues on the part of the industry, the staff who work there and the players themselves. All of this can only be seen as a good thing. Nowadays, many players around the world have access to free online tests for gambling addiction, tools to limit playing time, deposit amounts and overall losses, and it is possible to save money. self-exclude completely from the game. Add to that the fact that it is much easier to get help from free professional help via a plethora of links and advice articles and you can see that we have come a very long way.
From my experience working in the industry for many years, I can also see how staff training programs have benefited all parts of organizations, especially when it comes to spotting behaviors. negatives of some drug addicts. And this training is generally extended to all parts of the business, from C-level staff to customer support teams who are the first line of defense against gambling addiction. So, yeah, I can honestly say things have gone wrong. been and continue to move in the right direction. But now it’s time to go even further!
Do you think online casinos and sports betting sites can do more to protect vulnerable players? Can technology play a major role in this?
Absolutely yes to both questions. Without a doubt, the industry can always do more to help vulnerable players before the problems get out of hand. And in addition to the training I mentioned above, technology needs to play a leading role in solving the problem. From some cases that I have read of players suing online casinos, it seems that there is not enough technology being used to spot the issues in the first place or that these processes are canceled by the staff. who wishes to keep a player on the hook. For example, there should be no way that source of funds checks are not carried out as soon as a player crosses a certain threshold to deposit and / or lose large amounts – no exceptions. Somewhere in the chain some of these things are missed or ignored and that really needs to change.
Another way to use technology is to detect sudden changes in betting behavior. I have no doubt that some companies are already doing this, but it should become the default across the industry. For example, if a player suddenly goes from a few hundred per month to thousands, there should be technological mechanisms to report the behavior and for an additional source of funds control to be effected. By doing this, any potential cases of gambling addiction or illegal sources of money are nipped in the bud. The same goes for the use of technology to help staff spot fake IDs and other supporting documents in the case of underage players, for example. Technology can help us in many ways.
Will the UK revision of the Gambling Act 2005 upset the entire industry? What changes do you see on the maps once it’s finished?
Although not based in the UK, I have kept a close eye on published reporting and the rather negative media attention focusing on the one-time review in a generation – as I’m sure a lot of others within the industry are doing. From what I’ve read lately, I think there will be further restrictions on advertising gaming products on TV, especially at times when a lot of teens and young adults are watching. For example, I think the ban on all gambling advertising before 9:00 p.m. could extend to all major sporting events attended by young adults. In addition, I have seen a lot of concerns expressed about the Premier League’s dependence on gambling companies as business partners. Therefore, teams may soon need to change jersey sponsors as well.
There is also close media scrutiny on FOBTs (Fixed Odds betting terminals, also known as slots). Because of this, betting limits have been put in place and I would expect some of those same ideas for limiting player losses to make the jump to online slots as well. And another related area that I see mentioned in media reports is the practice of cross-selling one game product to another. With the UK being a huge market for sports betting, there is a natural tendency within the industry to move these players from relatively unprofitable sports betting to much more profitable types of games such as slots. However, there might be recommendations to limit cross-selling. Alternatively, players may need to have a separate account for each type of game, making it more difficult for online casinos to convince players to make the switch.
Do you think the media attention to cases involving gambling addicts is negatively affecting the entire industry? And do these cases shape public opinion?
One hundred percent! Major cases are usually reported quite high in the news order simply because the numbers are interesting to read. People have a natural tendency to find out how a single person has been able to not only bet but also lose hundreds of thousands, even millions in some cases. And the way just about all of these cases are reported casts a negative shadow over the entire gaming industry. Almost invariably, we come to view the online casino in question as the bad guy (and their statements are usually reserved at the very end of the article), with much of the emphasis on how the source of the fund checks was not carried out. correctly, or how the player was targeted with numerous offers and incentives over an extended period of time, for example. All of this undoubtedly negatively shapes public opinion.
Finally, is there enough will within the casino industry to continue promoting responsible gambling, or will the motive for profit always trump player protection?
While profit is and always will be the primary motive for choosing to start and run an online casino or sports betting site, I believe that a little more focus on responsible gambling would help avoid prosecution and / or very expensive fines later. Further, while these costs can easily be factored in as a necessary part of the business, the negative press attention that accompanies these cases is simply not justifiable in the long run. By doing it right in the first place, there are more opportunities to build a respectable brand that will last for many years to come – and with that, long term benefits, of course. I also think that if the industry works as a whole, shares data on the potential gaps it has identified and continues to focus on responsible gambling as an entirely positive aspect of the gaming industry, then everything the world wins.