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When responsible gaming fails, problem gambling takes over, then there’s Gamban!

George Miller

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When responsible gaming fails, problem gambling takes over, then there’s Gamban!
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

2018 was the year in which gambling operators and regulators moved up a gear in how they ensure responsible gaming is fully supported. 2019 is the year that software lends a helping hand. While many players enjoy betting on slot games, sports events and online casinos, problem gambling is a very real condition that can affect millions of people around the world.

In this iGaming Q & A session, Slotsquad looks at how software and technology can play its part in assisting problem gamblers online. Speaking with Gamban, we learn about the smartest and most effective software in the world for blocking online gambling sites and apps. Designed to block gambling and nothing else, it is the least intrusive, most intelligent and simple to install blocking software of its kind.

As we continue our journey to understand the iGaming industry, everything from how games are built to how casinos are regulated, we talk with the software experts fighting in the corner when responsible gaming fails. In a much anticipated Q & A with founder and CEO of Gamban, Jack Symons, we talk about the product, the future and how casino sites can do more to support players.

10 Questions with Gamban Founder and CEO, Jack Symons

Q1. Firstly, thanks for talking with Slotsquad. While most players know about online casinos, slot games and welcome bonuses, they don’t necessarily know about this side of the industry. Can you tell us about Gamban and how the software is making a difference?

Absolutely! Gamban blocks access to online gambling. You install the software on any and all of your devices and it stops your from accessing all gambling sites and applications – everything from bingo and poker to slots, skins gambling and casual trading. It’s designed to be as lightweight and effective as possible. Thousands of people are using the software and we are pleased that overall the software is helping so many people.

Q2. It’s very clever how Gamban is able to block thousands of online gambling sites, how does this part of the software work?

There are two approaches to this – and we have spent considerable time researching and developing different technologies. I should start by saying that each platform is considerably different as we work within the confines of what is and isn’t possible on each operating system.

However, underpinning each application is a powerful DNS system that automatically identifies gambling URLs, in addition to manual checking. We are always prepared to radically change the approach depending on what will make a better, simpler and more efficient product.

Q3. Do you ever come across websites that are wrongly designated as gambling domains? I guess this could be frustrating.

It’s not common. This was a bugbear of previous alternatives when I was setting up Gamban. What annoyed me most was finding I was blocked from [for example] restaurant websites, presumably because they, like casinos, use ‘chips’ – maybe that’s why? But sometimes the most innocuous sites were blocked and this was unacceptable.

On the rare occasion someone finds an inaccurately blocked site with Gamban, we can change this very quickly. We spend considerable time debating sites that fall between gambling and investing and regularly review the blacklist and whitelist.

Q4. Given the rise of internet gambling and mobile casinos now providing all-access around the clock, responsible gaming is being tested more than ever. Does Gamban provide one account that blocks access to gambling sites on multiple devices, including mobile phones?

Gamban can be installed on multiple devices – iOS, Android, Windows and Mac. We are exploring other emerging platforms, including Oculus (virtual reality), Playstation and Xbox. We aren’t intent on replacing willpower altogether but applying friction from the on-demand, omnipresent online gambling, where willpower alone isn’t enough for many.

Q5. Self-exclusion software can help problem gamblers and potential problem gamblers avoid contact with gambling websites, but it requires self-exclusion. Is Gamban a type of self-exclusion software and how does it differ from other types of this technology? Is it the best?

Gamban is self-exclusion software. It was designed knowing that individual operator self-exclusion is meaningless when there are thousands of other sites you can sign up and play on. However, the general consensus is that layering multiple self-exclusion tools (specifically financial spend blocking, the self exclusion register and gambling-blocking software) protection is more effective.

Gamban, Gamstop, Monzo. It works for me – I use all three and I cannot gamble online.

Q6. Gamban is independently evaluated with very good results. Can you please translate this for players, what does it mean and who evaluates Gamban?

Towards the end of last year, GambleAware commissioned an evaluation into the effectiveness of gambling-blocking software. The evaluation was undertaken by an agency in Birmingham and investigated Gamban, Betfilter, Gamblock and a number of similar but tangential tools in the access control space (parental control software). Gamban scored well in blocking functionality, yet cost was considered a barrier for some.

Q7. I see that Gamban software was selected by GambleAware to provide blocking software to its gambling support network. This is quite an achievement and a great endorsement that shows the capability of Gamban, you must have been pleased? And it’s free for players in the UK!

I’m very pleased with the results but our challenge is constantly evolving and we need to ensure our product is optimised for all platforms and updates to operating systems. The product has never been in better shape than it is today – and we have several major updates coming soon. Gamban is indeed free for players in the UK – people just need to contact one of the network of Gamcare treatment providers, including Gamcare and the National Gambling Helpline.

Q8. According to the UK Gambling Commission, tougher ID checks will be brought in to make sure self-excluded gamblers cannot cheat the system to place bets. Is it difficult to manoeuvre around the software in cases like this and if so, how do you see future updates improving Gamban?

This is essential for Gamstop to operate effectively and we fully support tougher ID checks to prevent gambling harm. If this fails, as it may do, Gamban provides a good level of protection. It’s been designed to be difficult to circumvent but we cannot stop someone buying a new phone or factory resetting.

As far as self-exclusion goes, our challenge is to create enough friction to stop people acting on impulse. But this is where financial spend blocking comes in useful too. If I ever want to gamble with three self-exclusion tools applied, I would have to apply a lot of creativity to act on impulse. Device, bank and ID – these are three difficult things to bypass.

Q9. Every year, the iGaming industry holds numerous events to promote marketing strategies, games development and online casino networking. Does Gamban get invited to these events? After all, casino operators and regulators support responsible gaming, don’t they?

Yes, we are always happy to be part of the discussion but we are keen to see change. What we want is more consistency in the way self-exclusion is delivered. We are pushing for a standardisation in the way self-exclusion is distributed and managed. Gamban has a role to play in this but we fully respect that fact that other systems add a lot of value to the individual trying to stop gambling. A lot of the events we go to seem to pay lip-service to the problem but I’ve seen quite a change over the past three years in the industry’s attitude towards responsible gambling.

One of the more interesting conversations I’ve been involved in is with the banking industry as a whole. Internet Service Providers, banks and other verticals have an opportunity to help individuals struggling with gambling addiction, as well as operators and regulators.

Q10. Lastly, how do you feel the future of online casinos and gaming sites looks from your perspective? Do you see Gamban and other self-exclusion technologies moving more towards operators and perhaps integrating with casino sites? For instance, name recognition etc to prevent players from signing up once they have chosen to bypass self-exclusion rules?

I’m surprised by how little innovation there has been in iGaming over the past five years, to be honest. Where I see a lot of industry focus on predictive behaviour, player insight and security, I feel the iGaming industry is in a position to be so far ahead of this – and yet, there is little that distinguishes one site from another. So little consistency. So much proprietary development is derailing effective cross-platform solution development and results in fragmented and disjointed support mechanisms for individuals going through one of the hardest processes imaginable.

What I would like to see is more engagement with the current self-exclusion ‘eco-system’ – more sharing, more collaboration and more integration of existing solutions. Until the bare minimum is achieved (an individual spelling out ‘I HAVE A PROBLEM’ to an operator and being offered anything close to a helpful, practical and effective strategy), I find it hard to take operator-funded ‘innovation hubs’ and ‘incubators’ little more than a ‘innovation’ branding exercise.

Once the bare minimum is being achieved, there’s potentially light at the end of the tunnel for the industry. Thousands of children who are playing games with gambling elements combined – I often wonder what will happen in a decade – are these children going to be playing on slot machines or will they continue playing games? Will gambling be able to compete with gaming or are the two products sufficiently different.

The point here is that a lot of innovation is going into responsible gambling technology – would it not be better to concentrate on making the products more engaging, interesting and powerful? The market will provide RG solutions to problem gamblers – operators just need to support and get behind these tools.

 

Source: Slotsquad 

George Miller started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Interviews

“Impressive is a synonym for efficient” – An exclusive interview with Iryna Kurochkina, Founder & CEO of Digital Choo (DC)

Niji Narayan

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In this photo: Iryna Kurochkina, Founder & CEO of Digital Choo (DC)
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

We managed to catch up with Iryna Kurochkina, Founder & CEO of Digital Choo (DC) for an in detail interview about digital marketing and the creative work behind it.

EG: Let’s begin with a few words about Digital Choo. How did the idea of Digital Choo as a digital marketing company evolve? Who were your first clients? Any interesting stories about the company’s early years? What does the name Digital Choo signify?

Iryna: Looking back at Digital Choo’s first year and compared with what has been accomplished, I am extremely satisfied with our progress. The idea has been growing with 10 key team members for the last couple of years and was conceived from the remnants of some standardized marketing practices that are arcane and unsurprising. We wanted to create, amaze and showcase unique features that would not just inspire but also bring exponentially great results to a client’s business.

The agency’s name makes you think of digital, but it doesn’t indicate our primary direction. We are not only digital; we are a full-range marketing agency, unlimited in our capabilities. But of course, digital is the primary performance media channel of our focus. Our approach fits perfectly with one of our first clients, Parimatch. Other clients supported it too, and the agency grew from 10 people to well over 200 – all of them with the same spark in their eyes and inspiration for unconventionality.

EG: You seem to invest a lot of time and effort in attending conferences. How do you approach conferences? Could you offer any tips to those who are new in the field? What are the things that a participant should do to get maximum leverage out of conferences?

 

Iryna: Conferences always provide the best opportunities for practice exchanges. They expand our breadth of knowledge through interactions between Product Owners and Service Providers in the gaming industry. This provides a greater understanding of the current capabilities from industry representatives who understand the existing barriers and expanding them through meaningful collaboration. This it is important to DC, as we never rest on our laurels. We are continually working on future trends within the industry and immediately turning them into a general market for customer demand.

The same could be recommended to others – newbies and those who have been in the field for a long time. Productive communication is the key to the development of individual units and the industry as a whole – it’s a synergic process, one that is not possible without the other. To get the maximum from every event, define the most important ones for the development of your business, invest maximum effort in them, and expand gradually.

EG: DC has won a number of awards recently, especially creative awards. Which of these are the most satisfying to receive? How do you handle the pressure of maintaining such high benchmarks in subsequent campaigns?

Iryna: Each award is a win and we don’t get tired of winning. Of course, we are really proud of the international recognition received. Just this year we were named Best Marketing Services Provider by Betting Awards. Last year we received an Effie Award for providing business efficiency to our local clients. International and local awards are important as they confirm our efficiency and pre-eminence not only on a global scale but also within individual countries that have their own distinctive peculiarities.

In regards to stress, I believe it all depends on how you see it. For us, high benchmarks are the average, something that we strive for on a daily basis, which is our starting point. Taking it to another level, we raise the bar by creating trends, not following them. That develops undue pressure which is the norm, a source of inspiration.

EG: DC operates in a number of countries across continents, Europe, North America, and Africa, offering services to betting and gaming companies. The legal frameworks and regulations regarding betting and gaming vary substantially across countries. Isn’t it a challenge to unleash the creativity, while keeping a close eye on the legal aspects? What are your strategies to handle this?

Iryna: It’s like life, everything is very simple. If you can’t make a difference, change yourself and your perception. In fact, in our business, adaptation is a key tactical tool used within the gaming industry. You cannot change regulations that are constantly changing but you can adapt. You can adapt your product to be responsive to these changes in the shortest of possible terms, you cannot avoid or increase the online or offline frontiers but you can create unique ways to break through the clatter of these frontiers by thinking outside the box and observe the performance in your results.

By taking a fresh approach, we strive for the best and brightest solutions. It is the primary approach of every one of our teams and is integrated into our company when providing services to every one of our clients.

EG: The betting and gaming industries are crowded places with a number of companies operating in each segment. What are the primary yardsticks or criteria that you use for making a particular brand stand out among the crowd?

Iryna: In our time, emotion has become a kind of cult and has already turned into one of the fundamental drivers of success for many businesses that have been gradually introduced into each industry. The bolder the clients, the more efficient are the agencies that are not afraid to accept their challenges. In other words, always be ready to make the impossible possible, and do not just use your expertise with rational persuasion factors and logical arguments on customers.

We try to inspire clients with our ideas and deeds and they often come to us just for this emotion. To us, “bucking” the old stereotypes and not proving every new unique decision that in the current world of transformation of the consumer is what works and brings them multiple results. Moreover, this concerns not only creative solutions but also the methods of implementation and distribution, formats and methods of media distribution and delivery to the consumer. We continue to develop this trend. These are the primary tools of self-measurement, to be out of the box.

EG: It is one thing creating amazingly impressive marketing campaigns for a brand and it is another thing bringing in revenue for the brand. these factors may not always go hand in hand. Could you share a particular case where both aspects went exactly as planned?

Iryna: In my opinion impressive is a synonym for efficient.

For example, let’s take a look at our rebranding campaign, the last one we made for our client Parimatch. We had to find a new spirit of true Parimatch customers and develop new communication language with them in order to grow the brand from an online bookmaker to a lifestyle platform for the courageous. Utilizing research and possessing a deep understanding of Parimatch’ typical customers. We have known that in order to create a new concept that is relevant for them it is imperative that their perception of themselves be; bold, adaptive and bright as they are.

The information field is saturated, the audience has become more “muscular”, it is more demanding on the visual presentation of brands.

You need to instill and introduce strong core beliefs into them, and then like a great designer using bead after bead to string up different WOW chips; enriched with non-standard shooting techniques, visual trends, and high-quality sound.

 

The business goal was to attract the correct audience, to strengthen the connection with the core of the existing one, and eventually to grow profits. To see this connection, you have to look at any task strategically, in the long term. To me, there’s no other way to work. if you want the business to succeed, you have to gain true synergy from a combination of ‘impressive’ and ‘profitable’.

So, returning to the question, if you want to see cases where both aspects have gone exactly as planned, there are plenty on our website.

EG: In several countries, for example, in the UK, advertising watchdogs are increasingly tightening the screws on betting and gaming advertising, especially concerning the impact of these ads on children and problem gamblers. What is your take on this?

Iryna: I believe that bans and creating a stigma on communications regarding these issues won’t solve them. The Forbidden fruit is sweet and never enough.

Let’s consider a TV series for example. It’s a popular, accessible, and joyful product. It’s totally fine as a way to spend your free time occasionally. But binge-watching can become real trouble and harm people’s daily lives, jobs, sometimes even families. Does this mean we have to ban all TV series? The more logical and productive decision is to communicate the risks of binge-watching and promote shows as an entertainment hobby.

This approach applies well on betting and gambling as well. The real question always lies in the area of adequate perception and open discussions. Bans may cause a rise in unhealthy interest towards the industry, while legalization, on the contrary, will promote responsible gaming, introducing it as a totally acceptable hobby.

EG: Finally, let us talk about the future. Any big announcements coming up? How do you see DC developing in the next few years?

Iryna: After the last few years and our ambitious start, we have devoted ourselves to more rapid development. It is our primary driver. There are a lot of plans: it’s like the widening of the DC holding structure as a whole, its expanding by many digital innovation departments, as well as the introduction of new initiatives by our team, both in the scope of branded content projects and media platforms, which will be relevant within a couple of quarters.

We are already working on the next innovative trends of the industry and immediately turning it into a general market for customer demand.

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Exclusive Interview with Andrei Andronic (Playson)

Vlad Poptamas

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

European Gaming caught up with Playson’s Andrei Andronic who talks European expansion, regulated markets, and why the ever-evolving nature of compliance is the perfect partner for innovation and a stepping stone to opportunity.

 

European Gaming: Is increased compliance and stricter regulation stifling innovation in betting and gaming, or should it be seen as an opportunity for more creative solutions?

Andrei Andronic (AA): It really depends on how one sees and understands compliance and regulations. Personally, I am of the opinion that the days when compliance was considered a constraint on a business’ development or innovation are now gone and this view is quite outdated.

For a business to thrive in an industry where regulations are evolving at such a pace, the key to success is flexibility. Though some companies see compliance as something that needs to be weathered, the pace setters view them as an opportunity to prosper. To reap the rewards of industry developments, companies must adapt.

With more countries regulating and competition intensifying, operators are under more pressure than ever to secure an advantage. Companies should be able to adapt deftly and swiftly, meaning the evolution of compliance, regulation and the industry as a whole should be welcomed as an opportunity to flourish.

European Gaming: What are the particular challenges for operators and suppliers in Central and Eastern Europe at the moment?

AA: At the moment, operators face significant challenges. The regulatory regimes are so dynamic that it is a real struggle to keep up with new and ever-changing requirements or occasionally completely new licensing regimes. These processes can take years and be a very busy period for compliance specialists. With the lack of homogeny in Central and Eastern European regions, what works in one area is completely different in another. Playson recently secured a Class II Licence from the Romanian regulators (ONJN), a licence I had been working on right from the start, and one that meant a lot with Romania being my home country. Yet, even knowing the gambling infrastructure well, the process still took a long time, and inevitably would be a completely different experience if you compared it to other regulations.

Operators are also scrutinised more by the relevant authorities than suppliers, but on the other hand, suppliers face more legal challenges. Though the competition in these markets, especially in relation to compliance, can be used as a unique tool to gain an advantage.

Many companies are embracing and implementing compliance as potential boost to their success in Central and Eastern Europe as it mitigates the risk of regulatory actions. Ultimately it presents a company as solid, reliable and trustworthy partner.

European Gaming: What products and services are Playson putting in place to ensure they are both innovative and compliant at the same time?

AA: Our development/engineering, product and integration teams are doing a fantastic job and always creating interesting and unique products. We target regulated markets and ensure technical compliance with the help of our test lab.

When facilitating the evolution of compliance, innovation is an inherent by-product of staying ahead of the curve. At Playson, we are constantly training, be it in-house or utlisiing external workshops. All of our employees are kept up to date on the latest levels of compliance. There’s a truly cohesive structure here at Playson whereby those in all divisions are kept abreast of any changes in compliance, and training sessions can be suggested by any department in house to make sure we observe any updates to the social responsibility aspects and other regulatory requirements imposed to us through our licensing conditions.

European Gaming: How important are Central and Eastern European markets to Playson?

AA: Central and Eastern Europe is a big focus for us at the moment and we have made some prominent commercial advances into these areas over recent months. It’s a market that collectively we have a wealth of experience dealing with, and that as company, we see a huge amount of potential in. We’ve enhanced our position in markets such as Lithuania, Latvia, Italy with partnership deals and we recently obtained a Class II Romanian license by the ONJN.

These partnerships are not only a fantastic opportunity for us to have our games released to as many players as possible, but with each new market we enter we acquire more knowledge about regulations and territories. This makes us greater equipped to dealing with possible issues in a variety of regions should they arise, and ultimately makes us a more robust potential commercial partner.

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Hyperion playing hard for a win-win all round

George Miller

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Hyperion playing hard for a win-win all round
Stav Zilbershtein, CEO and founder, Hyperion
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Stav Zilbershtein will be unveiling Hyperion’s new iGaming integrations team shortly and as a sneak preview of what the industry can expect from this pioneering development the phrase ‘creating powerful technology driven solutions’, gives a pretty good idea of where Zilbershtein is heading.

Hyperion is launching the iGaming integrations team – what is the service about and how does it benefit brands and platform providers?
We realised that many platform providers are constantly being approached by their clients with integration requirements. These can range from implementing game providers to payment providers and other custom 3rd party services. Most platform providers don’t want to occupy their core technology team with such requests because they are not setup to support their clients in the form of an agency. On the other hand, the reality is so that platform providers that can’t cooperate with the requirements of their clients and cannot provide them with the freedom and flexibility that they need will lose their clients. This is where our team comes into play. We allow platform providers to partner with us and leave this particular type of work to the Hyperion iGaming integrations team. This is a win win for all platform providers in the industry and for their clients.

How successful is it proving to be?
It feels like the most natural step for us. Being based strongly in the iGaming sphere we developed the expertise through our experience in the past years. For platform providers that don’t have such custom services unit it makes total sense and we get highly positive responses. Partnerships form fast and without much effort. For brands that we come across that are new or in the process of fast growth we see it as the fastest and most economically efficient solution.

What can brands achieve from working with the Hyperion integrations team?
No matter which platform provider the brand is based on, we can always assist with integrations of any 3rd party solution that the platform supports. Some brands have ideas for various mobile or web based apps and all of those visions require a fast agile provider that can manifest these apps in reality. With the knowledge and experience we have accumulated in the iGaming niche it is the path of least resistance for any fast growing brand.

Who do you look to partner with moving forward?
We constantly talk to all active big and small platform providers. From casino and game providers to sports betting platform providers, sports data providers and payment providers. If your solution is not mentioned on our iGaming integrations page we strongly invite you to contact us and establish a partnership with Hyperion. It’s a win win from all sides.

What do you aim to achieve this year with the integrations team?
We want to enable the flexibility to create powerful technology driven solutions to all brands and all clients of the popular platform providers. This year the market is getting much more sophisticated than what it used to be and only those that will be able to drive strong technological based solutions to their players will survive. We are here to enable that to any brand that realises that reality.

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