In February 2021, Kindred Group became the first gambling operator to openly report its share of revenue derived from high-risk players who show signs of harmful gambling. One of the reasons we are doing this is to measure our progress and benchmark against our ambition to reach zero per cent revenue from harmful gambling, and also to pave the way for the wider industry to follow in our footsteps.
The figures are updated every quarter and published on our website together with a measurement of the effectiveness of Kindred’s sustainability work. This quarter we asked our Head of Responsible Gaming and Research, Maris Catania, to help us break down what this actually means for Kindred and the industry.
Hi Maris, looking at the numbers for Q4 2021 the share of revenue from harmful gambling was 4.0 per cent, which is higher than in Q3. Is there a special reason for this?
Ideally, we would have seen a decrease in revenue from harmful gambling quarter on quarter, but we do understand that the end of the year is always a more sensitive period for responsible gambling. Positively, we see that when comparing Q4 2020 to Q4 2021, the harmful gambling revenue has decreased, but this is not the case when comparing Q3 to Q4 2021. The festive period has its own challenges, and we acknowledge that this may have a negative impact on different individuals, so we made sure that our team dedicated more resources to help our customers as soon as possible and with more personalised attention.
Different projects aimed at improving the numbers have been communicated in 2021. Any special projects you would like to highlight?
We have continued to increase the specialised training for our Responsible Gambling Team and customer-facing employees with treatment centres and Experts by Experience. This has resulted in better communication journeys and using more motivational interviewing with our customers. We have also continued working thoroughly on being transparent by publishing research. In this respect, 2021 has been a very good year for us. We have published research in high impact factor journals, and we continued supporting students completing PhDs across different universities.
Maris, let's talk a little bit about Q4 specifically. What are your thoughts?
I think this quarter shows, in evidence, how human intervention can never be replaced. It is also quite evident that there is a need for further technological improvements, without ignoring the impact Responsible Gambling and customer-facing employees can have in changing one’s behaviour and reducing harmful gambling.
We have a question about the different customer groups - do you see any specific customer groups being more affected by harmful gambling than others?
We understand that under 25-year-olds are at the highest risk of gambling harm and in fact, we are continuously investing in helping this group even more. Nonetheless, during the Christmas period, we do understand that anyone can be vulnerable due to personal issues, and that is why we have worked to increase human intervention.
Each quarter Kindred also measures the share of detected customers that show improvement after intervention. What is the reason for this and what does that number tell us?
Looking at the improvement after intervention helps us measure whether our interventions are effective or not. If a customer’s behaviour doesn’t change after the intervention, then the purpose of the intervention was not met. The number is actually quite positive for us, as we see that the vast majority of people who received an intervention have changed their behaviour for the better.
You have your eyes set on having zero per cent of revenue from harmful gambling by the end of 2023 – is that a realistic goal given the current pace of improvement?
We’re well aware that we’ve set an ambitious goal and that we still have a long way to go. But anything less would not make sense, because we have committed to propelling tangible change today. It’s also worth noting that the objective is not merely an end in itself, but also something that already has had a profound impact on our way of working.
More vigorous efforts will come and we remain focused on research and collaboration with the research community, experts by experience, industry peers and regulators.
Speaking of research. You’ve recently published a peer-reviewed paper, together with Professor Mark Griffiths, that explains the rationale behind PS-EDS. What are the main takeaways from that paper?
The main takeaways of that paper highlight how important it is to work collaboratively with different stakeholders such as research, community, and operators. The peer-review paper shows how markers of harm can be identified to intervene with gamblers before things escalate. The fact that this is published not only encourages transparency but also inspires other operators to use this information in their consumer protection efforts.
Harmful gambling is a quite complex issue and there are some differing opinions when it comes to delimitations – are you confident in your definition?
We feel confident in our definition. It is scientifically proven and builds on a research-based methodology. With that being said, we are always working on staying on top of things to ensure that our approach serves its purpose. For instance, we’ve opened up our system for review by researchers, to make sure that it resonates with the most recent findings.
What is your focus going forward?
We are committed to continuing down the path towards zero and decreasing the share of revenue from harmful gambling. We believe that this requires a holistic approach in which operators, regulators, and other concerned parties all take responsibility for protecting the customer. We, on our part, are committed to using a variety of means to do so, combining technology with interpersonal contact and education with research.
We will continue working on our proactive tools, both in regard to our system and our in-house risk group management. I also believe that a closer collaboration between both industry peers and regulators is important to align objectives and foster joint responsibility. We are committed to sharing knowledge with the general public, regulators, and other stakeholders to propel the discussion on how to create a more sustainable industry.
We've heard you talk about the roadmap you have set up for the Journey towards Zero - can you please elaborate on what that means for 2022?
We will continue working on improving our detection methods to provide quicker assistance to our customers and will continue improving on our intervention methods. In addition, we will continue investing in research and projects to assist our players. Of course, these will be communicated in due time.