GVC to fund $5m Harvard responsible gambling study

23 January 2019

GVC Holdings is to invest $5m in a joint research project conducted in partnership with Harvard Medical School, using the findings to conduct launch a new global advertising campaign to promote responsible gambling as it continues to ramp up social responsibility efforts.

The research project is a tentpole of the company's Changing for the Bettor campaign, which will see the owner of the Ladbrokes, Coral and bwin brands work with the Harvard Medical School's Division on Addiction on a five-year investigation into gambling behaviour. GVC will provide the faculty with anonymised player data across a range of its brands, sports betting and gaming products. 

The project will focus on a number of areas such as patterns of normal iGaming behaviour, as well as looking to identify behavioural markers of problems, drilling down to find markers for specific types of betting and gaming. This will be supported by research into the effects of gambling expansion in new markets.

It has the ultimate aim of evaluating the effectiveness of algorithms used by GVC and other operators to detect at-risk behaviour, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of intervention messaging and responsible gaming tools currently in use.

“It is only by taking an evidence-based approach to examining gambling that we can develop better strategies and tools to limit its potential to cause harm," said Dr. Howard Shaffer, Morris E. Chafetz Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Field of Behavioural Sciences at Harvard Medical School and director of its Division on Addiction.

"The collaboration with GVC that we have announced today will play a significant role in advancing our knowledge about gambling and intemperate gambling and is warmly welcomed.”

This will be supported by education campaigns, such as the previously-announced youth education programme with UK problem gambling charity GamCare and an in-school awareness-raising campaign in collaboration with EPIC Risk Management.

Changing for the Bettor will also look to build on work to promote responsible attitudes towards gambling, having been the first operator to commit to supporting a ban on gambling ads being broadcast around live sport. The so-called whistle-to-whistle ad ban has since been added to the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling's (IGRG) Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, and comes into force later this year. 

GVC will also launch an algorithm with which it aims to flag signs of problem gambling for its UK-facing sites, as well as adopting responsible product design principles in a bid to embed player protection measures in its games. The operator will also work with the Safer Online Gambling Group, the responsible gambling body founded by former gambling addict David Bradford, to ensure its focus on making gambling products safer underpins all business areas. 

Finally, GVC will double the amount it donates to problem gambling research, education and treatment bodies to 0.2% of gross gaming revenue. 

“Whilst the vast majority of our customers enjoy playing with us in a safe and fun environment we are aware that for some players, gambling can impact their lives negatively," GVC director of responsible gaming Grainne Hurst explained. “We are committed to leading the industry in minimising potential harm caused by problem gambling.

The UK government's Minister for Sport and Civil Society Minister Mims Davies welcomed GVC’s social responsibility efforts, saying operators have a key role to play in protecting consumers from harm and identifying potentially risky betting behaviour.

"Research is essential to progress in this area and GVC's Changing for the Bettor campaign will make an important contribution to tackling problem gambling," Davies said. "We are committed to protecting consumers across the country and are working with industry to create a healthy and more socially responsible sector.”