Senet urges operators to help punters stay in control

28 February 2019

The Senet Group is calling on gambling operators to help their customers set and adhere to specific boundaries, after new research from the UK-facing responsible gambling organisation suggests that all gamblers want to stay in control of their habits, regardless of their risk profile.

Conducted by independent agency Revealing Reality, the new ‘In Control’ report focuses on how operators can support safer gambling using a behaviour change approach.

Revealing Reality and Senet spoke to a number of consumers about their own gambling habits, with the report concluding that personal control over their behaviour is critical to their enjoyment of gambling. It interviewed a group of people in England, Scotland and Wales, from a variety of different dempographic backgrounds, who had Problem Gambling Severity Index (PSGI) scores ranging from low to high-risk.

The report says that people set certain boundaries to their gambling, which they aim to maintain through a variety of formal and informal management strategies.

Among the reasons consumers cited for wanting to stay in control were to avoid losing more money than they can afford, avoid the stigma that is associated with problem gambling, protect their relationships and establish a positive image of themselves, showing they can remain in control of their own actions.

The methods that participants use to stay in control range from a specific, time-bound limit as to how much they allow themselves spend in a week, through to a more approximate gauge as to whether they were spending too much money on gambling.

However, Senet said the challenge remains for gambling operators to help and support consumers in both setting and adhering to these boundaries. Senet said this can be done by reinforcing their motivation to stay in control and providing the tools to make the process easier.

These include tracking strategies, allowing people to keep track of their spend and stay self-aware of their behaviour, as well as accountability strategies, so that consumers can hold both themselves and others in their lives to account.

Senet also highlights the use of avoidance strategies to help gamblers avoid situations where they will find it harder to stay in control, in addition to limit-setting strategies that help people set and stick to limits in spend, time and stakes.

“The gambling industry can do a great deal more to develop and promote tools and techniques which assist gamblers in understanding the positive benefits of control, but more importantly how they can keep track of their gambling, whether that’s through the amount they are spending or the time they devote to playing,” Senet chair Gillian Wilmot said

“This research will now inform the next generation of Senet’s player messaging campaign, When the Fun Stops, Stop, which sought to put an understanding of customers at the heart of efforts to raise standards. 

“This campaign has now reached an estimated 82% of regular gamblers since its launch, and was itself born out of research which revealed a link between negative emotional states and the impairment of control when gambling.”

Damon De Ionno, managing director of Revealing Reality, added: “For a long time, gambling industry operators have been asking what they can do to help people gamble more safely and responsibly.

“This research provides a clear summary and examples of many ways that operators can actively help their customers stay in control of their gambling – and make sure they don’t undermine their attempts to do so.”

Publication of the research comes after Senet this week also offered its opinion on the UK Gambling Commission’s new problem gambling strategy, which will be published in April.

Senet has praised the decision to reduce the number of priority areas from 12 to just five, saying this will provide greater clarity and focus on shared objectives across the industry. However, the group is also calling for greater clarification on these themes, saying that without clearly articulated goals, “it becomes difficult to assess progress or to focus cross-industry collaboration and action”.

Meanwhile, Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the UK’s official Opposition Party, Labour, will today (February 28) deliver a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research about online gambling in the UK.

Watson, who is also Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, will focus on a number of key areas such as regulation, the types of online gaming products, the exposure of products to young people and the potential harm that comes from their use.

During the event, Watson will set out a series of major policy recommendations on how better regulation of these products, and online gambling in general, can be achieved

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