Maris Catania dives into Kindred’s latest Journey Towards Zero numbers

Tue, 26 Apr, 2022

Kindred Group openly reported its share of revenue derived from high-risk players who show signs of harmful gambling for the first time in February 2021. We are the first operator to openly share this type of data and aim “To transform gambling by being a trusted source of entertainment that contributes positively to society". Our aim is to also increase transparency, facilitate a fact-based discussion and 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. We have also set up a road map with highlights already achieved, and milestones to reach. 


Maris Catania, Head of Responsible Gaming & Research at Kindred joined us once more to analyse the numbers and answer some of our questions. This time, together with Esther Scheepers, the PS-EDS (Player Safety Early Detection System) Manager at Kindred. Esther joined Kindred around ten years ago as a Customer Service Agent and was a Responsible Gambling Expert. Now she leads 12 of our highly trained analysts who form the PS-EDS team. 


Esther Scheepers (left) and Maris Catania (right)


Maris, in Q1 2022 you report a decrease to 3.3%. What does that mean?

We did expect a reduction in the harmful gambling revenue in Q1 compared to Q4 2021. As previously mentioned, the fourth quarter of a year tends to be a sensitive time for Responsible Gambling. What is encouraging to see is that the Q1 number for this year (2022) is lower than the Q1 number for last year (2021), meaning that we are managing to reduce the number in the long term. 


We can see from the numbers that behavioural improvement after interventions is at an all-time high. Why has this been such a success?

This credit goes to the team that takes care of manual interventions once a customer is detected on our PS-EDS. The team works extremely hard to not only make sure that there are no backlogs but to also constantly monitor and evaluate the intervention measures taken. This has resulted in customers changing their behaviour for the better and thus, fewer re-detections from the same customers are being seen. 


Tell us about Kindred’s collaborations and projects that contribute to providing a safer gambling environment for the customers?

We believe and understand that we cannot do this on our own. Collaborations with treatment providers, experts by experience, researchers, and affected others are needed for us to succeed in harm minimisation. An excellent example of this is our recent collaboration with RecoverMe app. This app can help people struggling with gambling-related harm get the help they need from their phones. Developed by three highly skilled doctors, this app can help people through different tools such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions, mindfulness exercises, and support through peer groups. 


We have also further extended our relationship with the University of Malta. We already have a sponsorship agreement where Kindred sponsors the PhD costs for two students who are researching the community impact of gambling disorder. This year, we have extended our sponsorship to two more PhD students who will focus on addiction studies. This unique collaboration helps students to work on their PhD full-time and work alongside leading researchers. So, all in all, we now sponsor four PhD sponsorships at the University of Malta. 


Esther, what does a PS-EDS analyst do and what does your day look like?

Most of the analysts focus their expertise on specific markets. All the customers that are detected by our Player Safety-Early Detection System (PS-EDS) as higher risk, are escalated to our team of specialists. A digital profile is built for each detected customer, where the Responsible Gambling analysts observe and collate all the relevant information that will help them better assess the risk: changes in gambling patterns, affordability levels, interactions with our customer support, time spent online, demographics, etc. 


We aim to understand if the customers are playing on a secure, sustainable level and to dispatch the appropriate harm reduction interventions where needed, depending on the risk level and personal circumstances of each player. 


Behavioural improvement after interventions is on the rise, which is very positive. Can you explain what the decision-making process is when deciding on manual interventions?


Automation should never completely dissipate human interaction though. We know that each of our customers is different, with different needs and habits so our decision-making process is tailored for each customer and is based on a stepped-care approach. When a customer is detected, we review the player’s profile against the risk level and against the changes that occurred in their activity. 


Automation is perfect to be able to reach out to larger groups of players, including those who show only light, early risk signs. We can create awareness around safer gambling and guide customers towards responsible gambling tools. Automation is also great for instant interventions so that we can reach our players at the right time, when they are most susceptible to change. 


As mentioned, for the lower risk levels, we reach out with friendly communication as early as possible, to familiarise our customers with our Responsible Gambling tools and approach.  

If the risk of the player increases, we lean towards a tailored-made approach, carefully considering the communication channel and intervention type that could bring us the most effective positive outcome. In today’s regulatory landscape, there is a need to impose restrictions to safeguard against gambling-related harm. The best intervention remains the one where the player himself makes the decision to self-regulate and is motivated to commit to a sustainable way of gambling moving forward. 


What does being a part of Kindred’s Responsible Gambling Team and working with something this important mean to you?

Responsible Gambling and PS-EDS immediately sparked my passion and interest from the beginning. I am completely committed to doing the right thing for our customers’ well-being and caring for their needs. What really energises me and sparks my passion more is knowing that this goes hand in hand with building a sustainable future for Kindred as a company. 


 I feel proud of Kindred’s commitment to customer protection by daring to make the bold public statement of wanting to have 0% revenue from harmful gambling by 2023. 


These palpable great values, together with the amazing team of Responsible Gambling Analysts that surprise me every day with their dedication and hard work, is what motivates me every day to go the extra mile.