Two months of hot summer days have passed, and it's time for another report about the progress of the Global Self-Exclusion Initiative (GSE) made since the last blog article. As is often the case with summer months, it was difficult to proceed with external work due to people going and vacations and enjoying their time off. That said, the team behind the Initiative was not wasting time, which means I have some updates to share.
We have put our energy and effort into looking at global self-exclusion from different angles and trying to predict any positive and negative effects of its creation. To have an outside perspective, we conducted an online survey with the goal of finding out what industry experts think about the Initiative. Last but not least, we updated the Initiative's website and added to it comments and feedback from experts who dared to publicly share their thoughts.
During the summer, we created an online survey that was filled out by more than 40 gambling industry professionals we approached on LinkedIn. We wanted to find out what relevant people really think about the GSE when their answers remain anonymous.
The results were not that different from those from all the other discussions I had; however, some collected feedback was especially rich in critical feedback, possible issues, but also in the positive impact of a working system for global self-exclusion.
Exactly 50% of the people approached see the creation of the GSE as a great idea, and almost as many people (40% of respondents) are not sure whether current self-exclusion options and tools are sufficient or not. Almost 70% of industry professionals approached believe that the creation of a global scheme can improve the current situation.
Of course, it is necessary to talk about the negatives as well. Creating a global database of self-excluded players to help them stay away from gambling might bring some possible negative consequences and risks. Besides the repeated concerns about security, data privacy, sharing of personal information, and legal aspects, there are also other risks that need to be highlighted. These include the risk of black-market operators targeting self-excluded players, the possible need of involvement or enforcements from the side of regulators, or pointing out other ways of treating problem gambling that are more effective than self-exclusion.
There were many valid points, including some we were not able to discover or fully consider before, as we did not see them from our standpoint. The importance of discussions and collaboration among the different parties of online gambling is clearly displayed here. We are currently finishing a comprehensive article covering the possible benefits, threads, and risks for various online gambling stakeholders, which will be published in the Knowledge base section soon.
In the survey, we also asked industry professionals if they were willing to publicly support the creation of a global self-exclusion project as presented by the Initiative. Even though the majority of respondents were in favor of the Initiative, a considerable part of them (35%) was not sure if they would make their support public. Their reasons were more or less related to the lack of information about the scheme, its usability, requirements, security, functionality, and other relevant details.
This gave us yet another impulse to create a comprehensive documentation explaining how the global self-exclusion scheme will work. Thanks to the feedback collected over the last few months and the discussions I had, we are able to draft what we currently think is the best solution for a working GSE system. We are currently working on a blue paper that we will use to share our findings and present our solution.
Nevertheless, even with a complete and well thought out solution that ensures easy implementation and a safe and reliable system, the proposed system requires engagement from the rest of the industry.
Answers to the question "Do you think that participating in a global self-exclusion scheme can become a new responsible gambling standard in the industry for operators?" yielded results similar to those about whether people would support the initiative publicly. Most respondents think it can happen, but a considerable part of them has some reservations. These mostly resonated around including offshore markets and other international operators targeting players from different countries, as well as the need for regulators to get involved.
As already proven by the feedback I tried to get from regulators, it is rather difficult to get regulators to react or get involved in such an international matter. As I was told – directly and indirectly – taking care of the domestic region and its people is their number one priority. Getting them to take part in projects with a broader jurisdiction might be difficult, if not impossible. This is, of course, understandable from a certain perspective, but, at the same time, online gambling often spans beyond national borders, so I think a global point of view is crucial.
It is not easy to go around this situation, especially when each regulator looks at self-exclusion differently, reflecting the local culture, historical practices, and – hopefully at least partly – also standards from other jurisdictions. However, online gambling lacks common standards and best practices related to self-exclusion, which would be applicable to the world's modern cultures. The globalization of the industry and its best practices is advancing very slowly, as demonstrated by the example of standards for player protection and responsible gambling, which vary greatly from country to country.
It is becoming obvious that international standards for self-exclusion will have to be an inseparable part of the Initiative from the very beginning. If participating in the GSE is to become an industry standard, these best practices should be incorporated right at the start. We have always counted on setting and fine-tuning the self-exclusion details and standards in cooperation with research leaders based on their knowledge and evidence; however, the past few months made it even clearer that this is something we need to focus on as soon as possible.
The different pace of working over the summer gave us a chance to work on the Initiative's website and add to it a new section with feedback from experts from the gambling industry. This was a very important task for me personally, as I believe that transparent and constructive comments about the GSE accelerate the development of the Initiative – in either direction.
I am extremely thankful to those who were bold enough to agree to have their thoughts shared publicly, and I hope to see the list of people leaving their feedback growing in the upcoming months.
I also look forward to sharing the Initiative and collecting feedback in person, as I have already packed my jacket for upcoming conferences taking place in Barcelona and Amsterdam. I am grateful that these major conferences gave me a chance to talk about responsible gambling and sustainability among affiliates.
I look forward to having more fruitful discussions and being able to look for new ways to make a positive impact in the industry. If you attend the conferences as well, I hope we will be able to meet in person. Feel free to reach out to me.