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Embracing New Affordability Checks and Supporting Safer Gaming

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Embracing New Affordability Checks and Supporting Safer Gaming
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By Adam Hancox, director of gaming for TransUnion in the UK

 

The gambling industry is facing major changes, with the UK government review of the 2005 Gambling Act white paper set to be published in the coming weeks and a new customer interaction guidance for remote gambling licensees coming into force in September 2022.

Although these upcoming changes will require adjustments from gaming operators, they can also bring new opportunities. The revised regulation – with precise details still to be revealed – is expected to further support safer gaming initiatives that were introduced by the UK Gambling Commission in 2019. This will also help operators to balance their social responsibilities with the products they provide and protecting vulnerable gamblers.

 

The time has come for increased protection

Problem gambling is not new, but given wider economic uncertainty and the cost of living crisis, it’s an area that needs increased attention. Recent figures suggest that 1.3% of the population – the equivalent of over 870,000 consumers – could be termed ‘problem gamblers’.[i]

With inflation at its highest rates since March 1991,[ii] over half of UK consumers have reduced their expenditure and intend to decrease it further as the year progresses,[iii] according to TransUnion’s latest Consumer Pulse study.

When these figures are viewed against the backdrop of a clear link between individuals facing financial strain and gambling issues, there is cause for concern. In fact, researchers from the University of Liverpool and the National Centre for Social Research found that people in deprived areas are more likely to use online casinos and place risky long-odds bets.[iv]

The NHS has pledged[v] to open two new clinics exclusively serving gambling addicts this year, on top of longer-term plans to bring the nationwide total to fifteen gambling clinics by 2024.

To support this, the Gambling Commission has shared new customer interaction guidance for remote gambling licensees which outlines how operators must “identify, act and evaluate” when a player may be displaying tell-tale signs of problem gambling.

The new framework is designed to help gambling operators spot signs of harm and subsequently take prompt action. But it is also designed to be reactive so that organisations can support players where harm is already being experienced, in order to reduce or stop gambling. Even at this later stage, intervention is most effective if the harm is identified promptly and responded to quickly.

The gaming sector is waiting to see what the long-awaited review of the 2005 Gaming Act spells for the industry. With publication imminent, it is expected that operators will be obliged to remove features from online games that heighten an at-risk player’s likelihood of engaging in unsustainable activity. Other restrictions could include caps on stakes of between £2 and £5 for online casinos, as well as a ban on free bets and VIP packages for players who incur heavy losses.[vi]

One particularly controversial point appears to be to what extent affordability checks will be ramped up, and whether the white paper will spell out the requirement for checks that oblige players to share personal financial information such as bank statements and payslips.

 

Increased protection without CX disruption

Any concerns that these changes could dilute customer experience (CX) are misplaced. Gaming operators need to adhere to more stringent regulations but in a way that doesn’t compromise their platform’s player experience – this is key. Using innovative, data-enabled solutions can maintain the smooth experience today’s players expect, whilst also promoting safer gaming through identifying and protecting the vulnerable.

For example, the Gambling Commission’s new customer interaction guidance requires licensees to analyse several factors to determine a player’s affordability credentials, which include spending patterns, time spent gambling and other key indicators. They are then obliged to “take appropriate action in a timely manner” if the risk of harm is identified.

Modern, AI-led solutions can enable gambling companies to assess and evaluate all relevant factors on an always-on basis. For example, TransUnion’s Affordability Solution for Gaming, uses cutting-edge modelling and analytics to help operators protect their business and players while supporting compliance strategies and regulatory requirements. Anti-fraud and identity verification capabilities can significantly amplify player protection, having stopped 300,000 underage gambling applications last year.

By using socio-demographic, behavioural and transactional data – such as playing time, a series of bad debt indicators, deposit and loss amounts, income sustainability indicators, operators that use the solution can assess players’ affordability and vulnerability throughout their journeys, with minimal impact to the gaming experience.

Additionally, there are already solutions in place that can alleviate any concerns around new affordability checks. For example, Open Banking that has had a strong impact on the financial services sector. At its simplest, Open Banking means that consumers can more easily utilise the power of their bank statement information.

For gaming, this could mean affordability and anti-money laundering (AML) assessments no longer require a request for documents that causes friction in the player experience. Instead, players can use a purpose-built screen flow which quickly, but securely, takes them through the consent and authorisation required for Open Banking. What’s more, the solution can be fully embedded into existing interfaces with simple integration meaning players are taken on an unintrusive, friction-right journey to better data sharing.

Gaming operators will need to meet new regulation, whether that be the framework that came into effect for remote licensees in September, or the soon-to-be revealed legislation in the forthcoming white paper.

Rather than interpreting these changes as challenging hurdles, gaming operators have the opportunity to embrace advanced automated solutions that will help meet new regulation with ease – allowing them to demonstrate to their players just how committed they are to protecting their financial wellbeing, as well as their gaming experiences.

 

[i] Gambling Commission: Andrew Rhodes speaks at Westminster Media Forum 2022, June 2022

[ii] Office for National Statistics: Consumer price inflation, UK, June 2022

[iii] TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse Q2 2022 UK Study, based on a survey of 1,004 UK adults from 20 May–1 June, 2022

[iv] National Centre for Social Research and University of Liverpool: 2022 Patterns of Play Report

[v] NHS England: NHS launches new gambling addiction clinics to meet record demand, February 2022

[vi] Gambling Insider: Gambling Review Whitepaper ‘Due in the Coming Weeks’

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RG24seven Virtual Training appoints UK Safer Gambling CEO Victoria Reed As a Strategic Advisor

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RG24seven Virtual Training, the responsible, effective, and free video-based virtual training system for gaming employees, and a BMM Innovation Group company, today announced that Victoria Reed will serve as a Strategic Advisor to help expand operations and social impact across the global gambling industry.

Reed, currently the Chief Executive Officer of Better Change in the UK, will provide business development and strategy to fuel the continued growth of RG24seven Virtual Training.

Wendy Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of RG24seven, said, “I am very pleased to have Victoria join us at this important growth stage of RG24seven. She is an extraordinary leader and excels in all facets of global strategy, innovation, and business development. I look forward to working alongside Victoria and tapping into the wealth of experience and knowledge that she brings.”

Anderson added, “The importance of credible employee training is more critical than ever in today’s global gaming industry. It helps to improve employee performance, morale, and satisfaction, not to mention acting as a safety net against potential fines and violations. Victoria will be a great asset in helping RG24seven expand this message on a global scale.”

Victoria Reed expressed her admiration for RG24seven’s commitment to social impact, their extensive training library, and the exceptional operational excellence led by Wendy and her team.

She said, “It is a tremendous privilege to join RG24seven in a more official capacity. Our shared values emphasize the crucial need for training gambling employees and safeguarding players, all while ensuring that operators can achieve commercial success.”

Reed added, “Our industry is only as strong as the people working within it and by ensuring everyone has access to compliance-grade, responsible training, we can help to sustain our industry and ensure our customers remain free from gambling harm.”

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NODWIN(R) Gaming ropes in Android as title partner for BGMS Season 3; to be powered by Garnier Men

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NODWIN® Gaming, South Asia’s leading gaming and esports company has officially announced Android as the Title Partner for India’s premier esports event Battlegrounds Mobile India Series (BGMS) Season 3. Additionally, the tournament will be Powered By leading men’s skincare brand, Garnier Men, marking the first time that Android and Garnier Men have partnered with an Indian esports tournament.

The high-voltage action of Android BGMS Season 3 is being broadcast on Star Sports for the third consecutive year as the nation’s best BGMI squads battle it out for glory. The entire tournament will be played on high-performance Android devices.

Moreover, Crunchyroll, the world’s largest destination for anime and manga, has also joined forces with Android BGMS Season 3 as the anime partner while energy drink brand Red Bull has been onboarded as the Official Energy Drink Partner of Android BGMS Season 3. By leveraging the prominence of the tournament, partners will aim to engage with its widespread audience, while also elevating the overall experience for players and fans alike.

Anshuman Wanchu General Manager, Marketing, Garnier, L’Oréal India said, “We are delighted to partner with the BGMI Masters Series 2024. It is an incredible opportunity for us as this collaboration allows us to connect with the dynamic and passionate gaming and youth community in a meaningful manner. As a brand committed to innovation and excellence, we look forward to some incredible showcases in season 3 of BGMS. With this partnership, we aim to empower gamers to elevate not only their game, but also their skin care routine, and inspire them to achieve their best, both in the arena as well as in their daily lives.”

The tournament has also continued its association with TVS Raider, the sporty commuter motorcycle from TVS Motor Company as the Official Mobility Partner and Philips OneBlade, the male grooming product of Philips India as the competition’s Official Styling Partner.

Commenting on the partnership, Aniruddha Haldar – Senior Vice President (Marketing) – Commuters, Media and Corporate Brand commented, “We at TVS Motor company had Collaborated previously with Nodwin Gaming to help us develop a close connect with the Gaming audience – we are pleased to share that this collaboration has helped us to gain brand love, better connect to the gaming audience during and post the previous season. We are back again to announce yet another collaboration with Nodwin Gaming for the BGMI Master Series 3, this is in view to further strengthen our connect and engagement with the gaming audience.”

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Android, Garnier Men and Redbull for the highly anticipated third season of BGMS. Having such notable partners whose vision for the growth and development of competitive gaming in India mirrors our own, is a tremendous asset. Their involvement not just highlights the emergence of esports as a mainstream sport but also the massive potential of youth engagement in this field. Together, we are confident in our ability to provide the necessary resources and visibility required to nurture and promote esports talent nationwide,” stated Akshat Rathee, Co-founder and Managing Director, NODWIN® Gaming.
The opening weekend of Android BGMS Season 3 was a resounding success, recording peak concurrent viewership exceeding 140,000 on digital platforms. The tournament commenced with a three-day Opener Week, where all 24 teams—20 invited and 4 qualified— were in action at the Android Arena in Chhatarpur, New Delhi.
The top 18 teams led by table toppers Team 8Bit, and consistent performers OneBlade, IQOO Soul and Team X Spark progressed to the League Week. They were joined by Team Z and Godlike Esports who were selected through audience voting from the bottom six. Meanwhile, Team Limra, Gujarat Tigers, Viking Esports and FS Esports were eliminated from the competition.

During the League Week from July 22 to August 4, the 20 teams will compete in the Survival Week and Domination League stages. The top 4 teams will secure direct qualification for the Finals, while the remaining 16 teams will participate in the playoffs scheduled for August 6 and 7. In the grand finale from August 9 to August 11, the top 12 teams from the Playoffs, along with the 4 best teams from the League Week, will compete to fight for the BGMS Season 3 title.

Adding a touch of innovation, this season also includes three exciting formats –

1) Powerplay (Active throughout the tournament) – Squads will earn double points for each finish they achieve in the first circle of every match.

2) Bounty (Active during the League Weeks – Survival week and Domination week) – The top 4 squads from the overall standings of League Week one, followed by the top four in each subsequent match will carry a bounty. Teams can earn bonus points only by eliminating an entire squad with bounty on them, with 10 points per squad.

3) Impact Player (Active during the weekend matches of the League Stage: July 27-28 and August 3-4) – The in-game leader (IGL) of each squad will conduct a random draw to designate an Impact Player who will earn double points for each finish they achieve. Teams will earn four points for every finish by the Impact Player during Powerplay.

“Going beyond traditional tournament formats, our new concepts are designed not only to heighten the intensity of the tournament for players and viewers but also to set a new standard for esports in India. These innovations aim to push the boundaries of competitive gameplay, and I am incredibly excited to see this new format unfold. Similar to traditional sports tournaments, Android BGMS Season 3 will produce memorable, nail-biting moments and games decided by the smallest of margins. We will witness players rise to the occasion, carrying their teams to victory,” added Akshat Rathee.

The teams who will be advancing to the League Week of Android BGMS Season 3 are as follows: Team 8Bit, OneBlade, IQOO Soul, Team X Spark, REVENANT, Entity, Gods Reign, Team Forever, Reckoning Esports, Carnival Gaming, Raven Esports, WSB GAMING, VASISTA ESPORTS, TEAM ORANGUTAN, Global Esports, MOGO eSports, Team Tamilas, Carpediem, Team Z and Godlike Esports.

Fans can catch all the action of Android BGMS Season 3 on Star Sports 2 (HD & SD) in English and Star Sports First in Hindi from Monday to Saturday from 7:00 PM. On league week Sundays, Playoffs and Finals, the broadcast will be from 6:30 PM. Fans will also have the option to switch to Tamil & Hindi commentary on SS2 using the blue button.

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SOFTSWISS Celebrates 15th Anniversary: How Company Transformed iGaming?

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SOFTSWISS Celebrates 15th Anniversary: How Company Transformed iGaming?
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15 years ago, on 21 July, SOFTSWISS, a leading iGaming software provider, started its path in the industry. As the company celebrates its birthday, it is the perfect moment to reflect on SOFTSWISS breakthroughs that revolutionised iGaming.

 

Introducing Crypto in Gambling

Back in 2013, SOFTSWISS visionaries were the first to leverage the potential of digital currencies, leading the way for their integration into the iGaming industry. Recent research states that crypto payments represent a long-term trend profoundly influencing the dynamics of online gambling. Namely, in Q1’24, the Crypto Bet Sum demonstrated an over 20% growth year-on-year.

 

Collecting Richest Game Portfolio

For almost nine years, SOFTSWISS has collected the biggest game portfolio in the industry. Recently, the SOFTSWISS Game Aggregator has surpassed 23,500 games from over 270 distinct providers. Offering unique player engagement tools, the SOFTSWISS Game Aggregator powers more than a thousand iGaming brands.

 

Elevating Service Level

SOFTSWISS has built a comprehensive product ecosystem that enables operators to create an iGaming business of any scale from scratch.  The unique blend of technology innovations and exceptional service allowed SOFTSWISS to gain proven client recognition. According to researchers by the world-leading marketing agency Kantar, SOFTSWISS has achieved a 93% customer satisfaction rate for its Game Aggregator and a 91% satisfaction score for Affilka by SOFTSWISS.

 

Leading Industry Expertise

SOFTSWISS’ profound expertise allowed it to become an industry pioneer in conducting comprehensive research in various iGaming verticals. Over the past three years, more than 20 industry reports were published, each garnering increasing interest. The 2024 iGaming Trends Report became the most sought-after, with over 3,000 downloads.

In 2024, SOFTSWISS appointed Rubens Barrichello as Non-Executive Director in Latin America. Valuable insights from another highly competitive field, business tips and advice regarding Brazilian business culture are now available for all iGaming stakeholders.

 

Revolutionising iGaming Marketing

SOFTSWISS realised the vibrant ‘Bringing the Heat’ and ‘Grab Success’ marketing campaigns in 2022 and 2023. Held in Malta, they have made a lasting impact on the discerning iGaming audience and allowed SOFTSWISS to gain the ‘B2B Marketing Campaign’ accolade at the esteemed EGR M&I Awards two times in a row. 

 

Developing Player Welfare

SOFTSWISS innovative advancements led to the creation of an automated Risk Scoring Tool. The instrument detects suspicious player activity, setting a new standard of player welfare. The innovation was rewarded at the SiGMA Africa Awards in the Responsible Gaming Category. 

 

Promoting Social Responsibility

Over the past three years, SOFTSWISS has invested millions of euro in charitable initiatives. In 2024, in response to the most devastating flood in Brazilian history, SOFTSWISS launched a multi-phase charity project. The company provided immediate aid to those affected and organised long-term support for the region’s recovery. Additionally, SOFTSWISS initiated a unique campaign inviting industry players to join the effort, which received widespread support from the iGaming media. 

“Such meaningful evolutionary changes are a credit to the SOFTSWISS talented experts. Personally, I am immensely proud of having built an exceptional team. Despite having no prior experience in the iGaming industry, their knowledge, innovative approaches, and creative thinking have made them highly sought after by our competitors. We have the most cohesive and ethically sound team in the industry,” summarises Founder of SOFTSWISS, Ivan Montik.

 

About SOFTSWISS

SOFTSWISS is an international technology company with over 15 years of experience in developing innovative solutions for the iGaming industry. SOFTSWISS holds a number of gaming licences and provides comprehensive software for managing iGaming projects. The company’s product portfolio includes the Online Casino Platform, the Game Aggregator with over 20,000 casino games, the Affilka affiliate platform, the Sportsbook software and the Jackpot Aggregator. In 2013, SOFTSWISS revolutionised the industry by introducing the world’s first Bitcoin-optimised online casino solution. The expert team, based in Malta, Poland, and Georgia, counts over 2,000 employees.

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