Responsible Gaming is a concept that gaming and gambling operators, software suppliers and associated service providers need to uphold to ensure their offerings uphold the highest standards to ensure a fair and safe gaming experience that protects players from the adverse consequences of gaming and gambling. The majority of gambling and gaming codes now require operators to ensure land-based and online gambling services are offered in a responsible manner. Responsible gaming covers the areas of protecting vulnerable customers, the prevention of underage gambling, protection against fraudulent and criminal behaviour, ensuring information privacy, ensuring prompt and accurate customer payments, delivering a fair gaming experience, upholding ethical and responsible marketing, commitment to customer satisfaction and ensuring a secure, safe and reliable operating environment. Operators refer to both land-based (e.g. casinos, betting shops) and online or remote operators.
Upholding responsible gaming practices is a key means to help reduce the likelihood of Problem gambling among vulnerable customers. A number of measures have been introduced to help prevent the onset of problem gambling, including self-exclusion programmes and processes, offering advice and support to problem gamblers and allowing players to set limits as to how much they spend both within online and land-based gaming channels.
Operators are required to do everything within their means to ensure that underage customers are not allowed to gamble. The age restrictions are dependent upon the laws in the jurisdiction where the gambling services are offered. Preventing underage gambling requires operators to ensure that registration processes clearly outline policies towards underage gambling and to ensure controls are in place to verify the age of gamblers. Casino operators are particularly serious about this problem because of the fines as well as the threat that their license will temporarily or permanently get revoked. Key initiatives include the efforts of the American Gaming Association (AGA) to address the problem by facilitating the creation of an industry task force on responsible gaming, which adopted a comprehensive guideline for underage gambling as well as the unattended minors guideline developed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 2017, the organization announced a code of conduct for its members, which included specific training requirements for employees to deal with underage gaming. These measures are important because – despite the existence of statutes – adolescents have little difficulty in gaining access to gambling venues.
Fraudulent and criminal behavior
Operators are required to implement anti-money laundering policies and procedures. This involves implementing effective know your customer processes when taking on new customers and tracking and reporting any suspicious transactions.
Information privacy refers to the protection of customer data and records against unauthorized or unnecessary disclosure. Operators are required to implement policies that ensure controls and measures are in place to prevent unauthorized disclosure and use of customer information. Customer information typically relates to data such as name, address, age, telephone number, and email address.
Prompt and accurate customer payments
Operators must ensure that payments to and from customer accounts must be conducted according to formal and documented processes in an accurate and timely manner. Operators typically ensure that customer funds are managed separately from their own accounts and that they have sufficient cleared funds to pay all player prize wins and outstanding player balances.
All gaming products should be tested to ensure they are fair and random and that they adhere to the rules of that game. Testing to ensure fair gaming is increasingly carried out by independent organizations.
Ethical and responsible marketing
Operators should comply with the relevant regulatory advertising codes of practice which typically ensure that advertisements are factually correct and do not target underage or vulnerable gamblers, such as players who have self-excluded themselves from gambling. It is also expected that operators should seek permission from the customer prior to engaging in direct marketing through use of the customer’s personal details.
Customers should be able to freely make comments or complaints to operators and expect operators to have in place adequate processes and procedures to deal with complaints, either internally or via an independent third-party. For example, ecogra.org provides a mediation service for disputes between players and operators.
Secure, safe and reliable operating environment
Operators are required to demonstrate internal controls and processes that adhere to the licensing conditions as stipulated by the regulatory jurisdiction that issues gaming and gambling licenses. Internal controls should also be implemented to ensure that all operational, payment and technical systems and processes operate securely and effectively. In addition, operators need to demonstrate adequate business continuity management procedures to ensure that operations can continue in the event of unforeseen circumstances or disasters.
Responsible gaming codes of conduct
To ensure operators, software suppliers, and associated service providers uphold the principles of responsible gaming, codes of conduct have been developed by numerous regulators, trade associations and non-profit organizations. These competing and overlapping codes of conduct or standards have evolved over time due to the evolution of multiple legal and trade frameworks.
It has been acknowledged within the industry that given a large number of responsible gaming codes of conduct there is a need to step back and re-assess what is required within the industry. The European Committee for Standardisation is the process of developing Responsible Remote Gambling Measures that can protect customers and ensure that the remote gambling operators, software suppliers and associated service providers behave responsibly, which would be adopted on a voluntary basis.
Responsible gaming events
A number of industry events have been organized to help the industry promote responsible gaming practices. The European Gaming and Betting Association organized the EGBA Responsible Gaming Day conference in the European Parliament in October 2010. The World Lotteries Association has actively organized events for its members to discuss and promote best practice in terms of Responsible Gaming. The European Association for the Study of Gambling’s 8th Annual Conference in September 2010 was attended by academics, policy makers and industry representatives and much of its themes and discussions centered on responsible gaming.