By Cristian Andrei PhD, Expert Responsible Gambling Association; Institute of Human Relations
At the end of October, I attended the European conference Responsibility in Gaming in Brussels. The event focused on what all the players involved in the profile market can do to create an efficient working framework for responsible gaming, in parallel with understanding the root causes that cause problems with excessive game play.
The event was attended by representatives of most of the Western European countries (Holland, Denmark, Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland) but also from other countries such as Canada, Romania and Malta – professionals in the gambling industry, lawyers, representatives of regulators, service providers related to the industry, as well as specialists working with people who have gambling problems.
The conference addressed topics such as: gambling and computer games in young people:
should we be concerned about these two activities that are better regulated? a better understanding of the design of a computer game and reducing the risks associated with gambling; gambling from a neuroscientific perspective; psychology, machine learning mechanism, risk assessment and automated intervention – mentoring in the field of responsible computer games; a perspective on European gambling legislation and addiction to them; integrating artificial intelligence into a player’s approach to gambling in a safer manner – opportunities and challenges; the use of behavioral sciences in establishing the mode of intervention for players in the national lottery; the concept of diversity and responsibilities in applying the rules on online gambling; the role of certification in the interface between the regulatory authority, supplier and operator.
Romania was represented in the panel discussion by Dan Iliovici, vice-president of the Rombet Association, who gave a presentation on regulation and self-regulation in advertising for gambling, at different European states. He highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of the two types of approaches and pleaded for the variant of co-existence of regulation and self-regulation. “Collaboration between authorities and industry is the key to achieving a so-called responsible marketing in gambling,” argued Dan Iliovici.
The organizer of the event, Pieter Remmers, CEO of Assissa Consultancy Europe, a company specialized in responsible gambling policies and programs, expressed his concern about the phenomenon of “gamification of gambling” and urged the conference participants to discuss with priority the implication that a has artificial intelligence in the gambling industry.
For his part, Jeffrey Derevensky of McGill University in Canada questioned the fact that 3 billion young people are playing computer games worldwide today, and 10% of them are at risk of addiction. Moreover, he considers that an average of 30 hours spent at the computer for gaming activities is an alarming indicator for the extent that computer games have taken in the last decade. Compared to the consumption of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, which increases with age – the consumption of computer games is kept constant from one age to another. As a result, Derevensky emphasized that the gaming industry might be inspired by the gambling industry’s example of self-regulation.
Jonathan Parke, founder and director of the gambling behavioral psychology research company, Sophro, emphasized the importance of game awareness methods, in the idea of protecting the player from any problems they may have while playing them in excess. And this is all the more important as the method of packing a loss of money in the sense of winning, so that the player continues to play, is a widespread practice.
Professor Kim Mouridsen, founder of Mindway AI, emphasized that artificial intelligence is increasingly involved in responsible gambling, through its neuroscientific substrate it mimics, when it can identify the risks a player may be exposed to.
For his part, Dr. Michael Auer, a representative of Neccton, drew attention to the fact that, in general, players underestimate the losses they may suffer from excessive game play and hence the risk of not stopping. He gives the example of the British Mentor program which is designed to show the player the situation in real time.
As for me, I described to the audience the online psychological counseling service 24/7, launched by the Responsible Gaming Association at the beginning of September this year. The good news is that in Europe, it seems that Romania is the only country that develops such a service. I also urged the representatives of the industry to overcome the fear of authorities, the media and the community, not to consider responsible play as something defensive, but to be proactive. At the same time, I proposed to the participants to take a step towards the players, designing a common message to them and I urged the specialized colleagues to learn from the young people, because they are the true connoisseurs of online gaming.