Progress Report #7: Strengthening Relationships with Partners & Progress in Projects

Progress Report 7

After the release of the blue paper on London's ICE in February, the following months were mostly about traveling and moving the discussion about the Global Self-Exclusion System (GSES) to a more pragmatic level. Even though there is a huge amount of information on the functionality of the scheme, it is quite simple to communicate basic principles, such as the coverage of new registrations or voluntary participation of operators in the System. We were able to make significant progress with raising awareness of the Initiative and its goals at multiple industry events, got in touch with many like-minded people, and started preparing cooperation on the GSES. But we did much more than just talking. We also fine-tuned the process for the Global Self-Exclusion Assistance Tool (GSEAT), which is now in development, and released the most extensive database of problem gambling help centers.

From one conference to another

To start from the beginning, ICE was a huge success and the proper start of physical events in the post-COVID era. The Initiative had a stand within the Consumer Protection Zone, and I enjoyed almost a week of interesting discussions about topics like self-exclusion, player protection, and reduction of gambling harm. What's more, my participation in ICE opened a door for the opportunity to speak about GSES at the European Conference for Gambling Policy and Research. Our paper was recently accepted to be featured at the conference, and I will have the opportunity to present our ideas in front of researchers, therapists, regulators, and RG professionals from all over the world. That is great news for the project!

I spent a big portion of the past few months covering and promoting the agenda of the GSES on major conferences, but also those with regional focus. Right after ICE, I was invited to speak at a conference in Vilnius, where I attended an interesting panel and presented the data about self-limiting tools from operators licensed in Baltic countries. These bring an exciting outlook at how unspecific regulation can translate to reality. For example, it was obvious that some countries had mandatory deposit limits, but the implementation of other limits was roughly a result of best practices and self-regulation.

RG panel

CasinoBeats in Malta was the next conference on my list. It gave me an opportunity to discuss the proposed system in relation to the current ESG (Environment, Sustainable, Governing) agenda at a conference organized by KPMG, and traveling to Malta was also an excellent opportunity to connect with the Malta Gaming Authority. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to talk to them about the blue paper, and while it is still too early for any specific engagement, the essential first step was made. During the following regional conference in Prague, we discussed the possible consequences of responsible gambling, such as increasing the effectiveness of prevention, and we briefly touched on eSports and risks associated with young adults' gambling as well.

The most recent events took place in London and Amsterdam, where I was focused on presenting the data from our casino database and showing its value for analyzing global online gambling. As you may know, our database covers 99% of available online gambling operators, and besides data on self-limiting tools, we also collect and put into perspective a lot of other data that can bring interesting insights. For instance, the database quickly offers the number of operators accepting players from specific countries, and adding information on obtained licenses or the availability of particular languages can result in thought-provoking outcomes. To give you an example, for many regulated countries, having a website in their citizen's primary language is defined as targeting them, which is prohibited for those operators not having a local license.

One step closer to our Global Self-Exclusion Assistance Tool (GSEAT)

Data are the baseline for our Global Self-Exclusion Assistance Tool (GSEAT), which is already in development and should be released for external testing by the beginning of autumn. We have spent a considerable amount of time figuring out how to structure the process to make self-exclusion at individual operators as easy as possible. The tool is intended for those having multiple accounts from jurisdictions with no license-wide self-exclusions. When self-excluding, these players need to close one account after another, which is usually a long and painful process, especially for those having issues with gambling. GSEAT offers them a list of casinos with information about possible ways for self-exclusion as well as guidance with tips on how to successfully close those active accounts. Furthermore, it offers a text generator for self-exclusion requests and a possibility to track progress. GSEAT will supplement the global scheme in the future, as GSES will only cover new registrations at participating operators.

Database of Help Centers

Progress with the self-exclusion standards

My work towards the Global Self-Exclusion System (GSES) has also one major update: I was able to make significant progress with the creation of self-exclusion standards, which are currently the next step of the Initiative. As of now, there are no best practices for self-exclusion, and every regulation requires a different set of rules of implementation either for its national scheme or for individual operators.

This creates a vacuum for the intended worldwide system, but it also means that we currently do not know what the best approach to effective self-exclusion is. I've spent the past few months getting together a group of people with extensive and diverse experience in online gambling to help me develop these much-needed best practices. So far, we have prepared a robust methodology consisting of research, workgroup consultations, and broader consultations, and this work should make us busy for at least a year.

Lived experience with gambling addiction is extremely valuable to us

Ever since Charlie started to contribute to the responsible gambling part of our forum, we have been working more closely, and I am now consulting him on almost every project that I am working on. His lived experience with gambling addiction helps me to cover this vital perspective, and his contribution positively impacts his dedication to staying off gambling. Every time we engage in some work, it brings me pure joy. His feedback was particularly valuable when we were finalizing the design and function of our brand-new database of online casinos. Thanks to him, we realized that what is truly essential for people with problem gambling issues is to have the ability to choose a communication channel that is near them. This finding makes our database of problem gambling centers, which currently consists of more than 750 organizations around the world, more efficient. And what's more, we are already working on a 2.0 version which includes updates on functions and information.

Getting to the point of launching a Global Self-Exclusion System takes time. A lot of time. And even though our success is not guaranteed, I see that the work we do brings positive change – which is exactly what makes me go and take one step further. I am looking forward to bringing more updates on the self-exclusion standards in the next progress report and releasing GSEAT in the following months.