Kindred Group takes the next step on the journey towards zero revenue from harmful gambling by 2023. Player safety is top priority and the most discussed topic for most gambling operators. However, there’s very little real data into this matter.
At Kindred we opt for transparency and want to be a provider for a fact-based debate. Therefore we took a decision to become the first gambling operator to report its share of revenue derived from high-risk players showing signs of harmful gambling - as well as a measurement of our model in place to eradicate it – as we are continuing our commitment to reach zero percent of revenue from harmful gambling by 2023. The figures will be updated regularly and published on our website together with a measurement of the effectiveness of the Group’s sustainability work. We want to be able to measure and benchmark against our ambitions as well as show example to the wider industry that will potentially and hopefully follow suit.
We sat down with Maris Catania, Head of Responsible Gaming & Research and asked her if she could explain to us what this means.
Maris, Kindred Group has a zero vision for harmful gambling. What does that mean exactly?
First of all, I have to say it is a bold statement. Because this way, we are not only making ourselves accountable but also, we have top-down support to minimising harm.
Our zero vision for harmful gambling is a part of our sustainability strategy and it means, that although we might not manage to get down to zero percent revenue by 2023, which is our ambition, we will be trying to get as close as possible to that figure.
Kindred decided to reveal the percentage of the revenue derived from harmful gambling. What is the purpose behind this move?
The reason for doing this is to better understand how much of our revenue is coming from customers that have experienced potential harm, and to also have a baseline to reduce this proportion of the revenue. We need to be able to measure and benchmark against our ambitions.
We are publishing this now because we want to better ourselves in this area. In the last year, we’ve been working on a new version of PS-EDS, Player Safety-Early Detection System, and consulting with academics and reformed gamblers about the measure. Sharing these numbers may not be popular with some audiences, but it will also create a potential chance to have more fact-based discussions and data sharing in the gambling industry. That is truly important.
Why do you say it may not be popular?
Everything a gambling operator does may create criticism, even if done with the best intentions. Nonetheless, we are welcoming researchers to view our PS-EDS and help us improve it. We are also trying to share numbers that others may have never shared before.
What would you say are the challenges with committing and launching this type of campaign?
The challenges are huge. But we want consumers to expect safer gambling measures and ask the ‘tough’ questions on affordability and safer gambling; we see cases in the news that could have been prevented by doing affordability checks at an earlier stage, so this should be on the agenda of everyone. The same way you put your seatbelt on in a car or go through security at the airport, no one should be losing more than they can afford to lose.
If we have the commitment from the whole organisation, we can minimise some of the harm that is caused by gambling. We can change the narrative. We can get consumers to understand why we are asking questions of how they can afford to play on a certain level, and why we want to know about where their money is coming from in regards of anti-money laundering.
What kind of tools does Kindred use to prevent your customers from being at risk of harmful gambling?
We have different responsible gambling tools such as deposit limits, time limits, time outs and self-exclusion. But we understand that sometimes, the people that need these Responsible Gambling tools the most, might not use them. Therefore, we have invested in a proactive Player Safety system called PS-EDS (Player Safety – Early Detection System) that investigates players’ behaviour and alerts us when someone is approaching a potentially harmful stage of gambling. For example, when you have a customer who is playing during the night for a long period or someone who is chasing losses. We try to approach these customers and intervene before substantial harm is done.
We apply fact based knowledge from empirical research to implement indicators to be able to detect early signs of problem gambling. I would recommend to watch this movie where my colleague Karim Chikh and I explain how PS-EDS works.
No one is doing what Kindred is doing. Why do you think that is?
Without knowing what the other operators are up to, it could be because this is something that might be seen as too scary, or too risky. The usual narrative is that the majority of customers play responsibly, but we want to turn that concept on its head and focus more on the harm and how to minimise it. Instead of just focusing on safer or responsible gambling, let’s make sure we fix the situation to ensure no exploitative gambling.
Now that you know the percentage of high-risk gamblers, why are you accepting them as clients?
We don´t. That is a huge misconception. The high-risk gamblers that are quoted as harmful are not accepted as customers per se. Those customers who are found to have a gambling disorder or even a hint of gambling disorder, have their accounts closed and no further money is accepted. The customers that self-exclude cannot play with us for that stipulated time and we are also looking into improving the journey when their self-exclusion is over. Such an example would be to encourage someone to stop gambling not when they would have lost €1,000 above their means, but before they even reach that point.
How will you monitor your ambition of zero per cent revenue from harmful gambling?
We will continually monitor the percentage of harmful revenue that we make and continue to focus on initiatives that minimise harm. Such initiatives include improving our systems, offering more responsible gambling tools, more training for our employees and even more collaborations with treatment centres and reformed problem gamblers.
How does Kindred work with research around responsible gambling?
We sponsor quite a few PhD programs and we make sure that our researchers are free to publish whatever they wish with no intrusion from our end.
Can you please tell us more about Kindred’s Sustainability Framework?
I think this is a great way of ensuring that the initiatives involve everyone in the organisation. The one thing I hear all the time from other Responsible Gambling managers is that they need to constantly fight to get good initiatives. That is not the case at Kindred. Having such framework ensures that there is more commitment top-down rather than bottom-up only.
What would you like to say to the people who are sceptical about Kindred revealing these numbers and their authenticity?
I have previously been criticised several times. But through my work I have often managed to create improvements, for example growing Kindred's RG team ten times over the years. I don’t think we should shy away from the negative side of gambling but instead work towards minimising it as much as possible instead. Some people might see this as a PR stunt, but I am confident that this will get other operators to venture into harm-minimisation and make them understand the need to focus on safer gambling, rather than just profits.
If a harm-minimisation initiative causes criticism but protects one person from harm, then it’s worthwhile.