Shelley White, RGC: Payments just one aspect of Canadian RG culture

Shelley White, RGC: Payments just one aspect of Canadian RG culture

Ahead of Shelley White’s appearance at the Canadian Gaming Summit (CGS) next month, Payment Expert reached out to the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) Chief Executive to analyse the role payments and technology play in the country’s igaming market.

Responding to PE’s queries, White discussed the potential for emerging technologies, like Open Banking and Artificial Intelligence (AI), to further enhance Canadian operators’ responsible gaming toolkits. However, she emphasised that payments alone are not the only element of a successful safer gambling strategy and culture.

Payment Expert: Is the issue of customer affordability as prominent in Canada as it is in other markets and how is the industry responding to any concerns around this? 

Shelly White: Customer affordability is an especially prominent issue in Canada, as it is in other jurisdictions. The industry has a responsibility to mitigate harms and promote customer affordability. To achieve this, governments, regulators, operators, financial institutions and RG organisations must work together to create a responsible gambling culture.

By having all key stakeholders working collaboratively to contribute their respective knowledge, resources and practices, we have a much greater potential to have in place the necessary elements for a safer gambling ecosystem. This includes helping to protect vulnerable individuals. It is this ‘360 approach’ that will make customer affordability achievable.

For example, we are seeing conduct and manage organisations incorporating leading practices in their operator licensing agreements to enhance consumer protection and make it an operational imperative.

An increasing number of operators are making affordability a priority. They are doing this by integrating RG into their overall corporate strategy. Affordability is a key component of player health and well-being. The commitment to preventing financial harms starts with a clear corporate commitment to prevention measures and mitigation incorporated into strategy and culture.

The components of an effective approach to affordability for players includes:

  • Using technology to detect at-risk behaviour;
  • Implementation of an effective player communication continuum to mitigate risk;
  • Ongoing employee training;
  • An easily accessible self-exclusion programme;
  • Offering timely and supportive player assistance for individuals who may be experience harms;
  • Providing players with information and encouraging safer play;
  • Ensuring that marketing communications does not mislead players or potentially target at-risk groups or players;
  • Offering account registration and money services in a responsible manner; and
  • Providing players with products that are designed to promote breaks in play, avoid excessive play and track the passage of time.

 

PE: How does the industry ensure responsible gaming and sustainability at all stages of the KYC and customer payments journey?

SW: Overall, there is a strong commitment to player protection. Foundationally, it starts with robust responsible gambling regulations that all operators must comply with, and the regulator monitors. Conduct and manage organisations, such as OLG, iGO and BCLC, incorporate responsible gambling requirements into their operator agreements and hold them accountable for fulfilling their requirements.

This is a key contributor to RG culture. Operators implement their responsible gambling strategies, programmes and systems to demonstrate their commitment to their customers and work to build a sustainable business. We find that social responsibility, customer loyalty and sustainability are key priorities for operators – preventing financial harms contribute to the fulfilment of these priorities.

Payments are one aspect of this overall strategy. Players knowing and understanding affordable play starts before they place a bet, having an excellent prevention education programme in place with the goal to educate and inform youth, young adults, priority populations, and players of all ages about the risks of gambling, debunking gambling myths and misconceptions, knowing how to mitigate the risks, thinking about their budget and how much disposable income they can afford to gamble on a monthly basis, and taking a proactive approach to safer gambling is paramount.

Prevention, education and affordability should be reinforced with people via a myriad of communication channels, and through educational institutions, community and sports organisations. To be effective, it’s imperative that the messaging is tailored to take into consideration the beliefs, values and culture of the various market segments.

Incorporating player education centres onsite at gambling venues and online to provide players with the opportunity to talk to professional staff about RG tools and how affordability plays a significant role in enhancing affordable gambling. The centres have staff with high EQ, and who are subject matter experts in how to provide players with meaningful information about safer gambling behaviour and how RG tools work. They are also available to individuals with a compassionate link to support when they are ready for help.

PE: Is there anything Canadian gaming can learn from other sectors, such as finances, when it comes to industry sustainability?

SW: There is a lot that the global industry can learn from Canada, and certainly, there are things that Canada can learn from other jurisdictions and sectors, such as:

  • Open Banking technology, which provides secure access to player’s banking information in an automated, secure, and frictionless way;
  • Implementing affordability threshold policies including loss limits, and deposits and withdrawals to manage risk;
  • Incorporating affordability into corporate social responsibility goals and ESG reporting; and
  • Conducting applied research to develop and implement impactful approaches to evaluating player affordability and evaluating programme quality and effectiveness.

 

PE: Are there any emerging technologies – paytech, fintech and otherwise – that are redefining how Canadian operators approach RG requirements?

SW: We should further examine the potential that Open Banking has on enhancing player affordability. AI behavioural monitoring and well-designed interventions to mitigate risk also appear to be a promising practice that warrants further exploration.

Another area to focus on is the feasibility of integrating compliance and security technology such as identity and age verification and monitoring self-exclusion. Using technology combined with human interaction to tailor the gambling experience to individual players and RG preferences and rewarding players for using and successfully implementing RG tools can also enhance operators’ capabilities.

PE: Has the RGC been assessing AI’s role in supporting responsible gaming and sustainable industry practices?

SW: RGC is extremely interested in deepening our understanding of how AI and machine learning can be used to monitor player behaviour and identify patterns indicative of gambling-related harm, as well as tailor the player experience, offer individuals more engaging responsible gambling options and encourage responsible gambling practices.

Also, in learning new ways to help players stay within their financial limits, while enhancing their gambling experience and how AI can be used to analyse vast amounts of player data to provide the industry, and RGC, with valuable insights to create more effective regulations, programmes and practices.

PE: What insights do you hope CGS attendees will take away from your panel?

SW: We have an awesome group of subject matter experts who will provide the conference attendees with practical examples of ways to enhance affordable play amongst their players, as well as inspire them to continue to make it a strategic priority today, and into the future.

Shelley White will be speaking at the Canadian Gaming Summit between 18-20 June, 2024. Purchase your ticket HERE to gain access to all three days of the event and keep up to date with the latest news by subscribing to the bi-weekly Canadian Gaming Summit newsletter.

Source: Payment Expert

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