Entain has officially launched its new UK affordability model, which had been in the works for 18 months. This will help the Ladbrokes and PartyGaming operator flag customers who run the danger of putting themselves at financial risk because of their gambling. The model will also apply to stake limits and stricter affordability checks.
The technology-led initiative, called Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC), aims to identify players in the UK who run the greatest risk of finding themselves in financial difficulties, will assess the extent of the player protection needed by the gambler regarding affordability limits, and act accordingly. The betting and gaming group has also said that they are not yet done with developing ARC, as the company strives to develop further models and finesse behavioural indicators to include variable stake limits.
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Entain group operations director Peter Marcus, who is leading the ARC initiative, said, “We have been working on player affordability concepts for the past 18 months as part of our ARC affordability programme. This aims to identify relevant limits at the right time to protect customers whom our technology has identified as being vulnerable, or particularly at risk.”
The company’s tests showed that interactions with flagged players to get them to use betting and gaming tools reduced their staking and depositing limits by an impressive 55%. The successful model has been launched across the 14 brands it operates in the UK, meaning that the model will be live and available in all Entain entities as of this summer. Other selected international regions can expect the programme later on in the year, with customised iterations that will also take into account cultural norms.
Another plus point for the ARC affordability framework is its use of open source and customer data which is available commercially. Entain’s data scientists have made models to show how the initiative will pick out potential harm at different levels of potential risks.
Affordability checks have become quite the hot potato in the gaming industry, with the Gambling Commission having to hold a consultation in November 2020 to develop thresholds applicable to all British licensees. The Social Markets Foundation along with other advocates of regulatory reform supported the thresholds, with the former pushing for a £100 ‘soft cap’ for players. Trying to deposit any number higher than this would trigger enhanced affordability checks.
This was not received well by gaming operators, who argued that this would encourage players to turn to unregulated and unsafe online gambling sites while infringing on people’s right to privacy. Another criticism was that this limit will have almost no impact on preventing problem gambling while punishing sustainable gamblers.
The genius behind ARC is that it completely avoids this conundrum by setting limits based on data that is already available and which can only be raised if the individual decides to share more information on their affordability.
Marcus explained, “This means the vast majority of customers who show no indications of financial risk can still bet with us freely. We think this is an important step in preserving personal freedoms, and will also greatly benefit the horse-racing industry, which is concerned about the impact of blanket measures on its future viability.”
Entain seems to have found the perfect balance between protecting their players’ finances while safeguarding their privacy. Chief executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen said, “We firmly believe that a more personalised, individual approach to player protection is the way forward which is why, for the most vulnerable customers, we have taken action as soon as we can.
“We are deeply committed to giving every customer the best experiences and protection we can, tailored to their particular needs.”