As a responsible stakeholder in real money gaming industry, Androidslots is committed to Responsible Gambling. We believe that the best way to ensure that people understand how to gamble responsibly, and recognise the dangers of gambling addiction is to provide information and encourage a dialogue around this sensitive issue. This page offers educational and informative resources for those who seek a better understanding of responsible gambling.
What is Responsible Gambling?
It is a misconception that it's only the casinos who are expected to establish and follow responsible gambling practices. At Androidslots we think a bit differently. We sincerely believe that the gambling industry can only be a fun and safe place to play if all interested parties take notice of responsible gambling practices; each being aware of their own responsibilities.
Androidslots defines responsible gambling as a set of practices which are expected to be followed by all components in the real money mobile gaming industry in order to develop and sustain a gaming environment that is:
- Fair - Ethical marketing/advertising and gaming practices are followed.
- Problem-free - Dedicated efforts are taken to minimise and eliminate problem gambling.
- Secure - Security of players' personal and payment information is completely guaranteed.
- Legitimate - Fraudulent or criminal practices of any nature are prohibited.
- Enjoyable - Prompt and accurate customer payments are ensured and due customer care is taken.
Why is There a Need for Responsible Gambling?
Various research studies suggest that the UK gambling industry is falling short on almost all of the parameters of responsible gambling mentioned above. Below we give you some idea of where these failings exist.
Lack of Fairness:
As per McCormick, A. and Cohen, I's report: 'A Review of Online Gambling Literature', a number of unethical and unfair gambling practices take place in the UK gambling industry. Some key practices are as follows:
- Games may be rigged or fixed in order to increase potential loss for the players. Nearly 50% players feel concerned that they might be cheated by online gambling providers.
- Gambling websites are set-up and shut down at a very high rate, which makes it difficult for players to track down the sites which operate fairly or unfairly.
- Gambling sites may indulge in the practice of 'embedding' (strategically pacing certain words on an internet site) so as to coerce potential consumers to gamble on their sites.
Problem Gambling Concerns:
As reported by GambleAware, there are approximately 600,000 problem gamblers in the UK, i.e one in every 166 gamblers is a problem gambler. According to The Independent's latest news, on average problem gamblers are found to be suffering from debt of around £17,500 each, and this can have a devastating effect on families. Androidslots' own research shows that the real money mobile gaming industry - which (by revenue) is only 4% of the total gambling industry in the UK - contributes to 37% of total problem gamblers, which is likely to rise to 52% by 2021.
In the report 'A Review of Online Gambling Literature', it is also mentioned that information related to players' gambling habits may get tracked and shared with game makers so that they could make games more compelling - and for problem gamblers, this means more addictive. Computing's 'Online gambling industry ignores data protection and privacy laws' report tells how Simon Davis (founder of Privacy International) has condemned the online gambling industry as the worst among all licensed industries in terms of information security related malpractices.
Underage gambling (gambling by individuals below age 18) is a rising concern in the UK's online gambling industry. Though legislation dictates that underage individuals are legally not allowed to gamble, according to Ipsos MORI's report, nearly 20% of young people about to turn 18 have already gambled online. This is a clear indication that online gambling sites lack robust processes that prohibit underage individuals from signing-up.
The online gambling industry has been accused of enabling money laundering - a process of converting proceeds of crime into legitimate assets. This is carried out when "an individual who owes a substantial amount of money to an insider in the casino could gamble online losing until a sufficient amount of money has been lost to an insider in the casino; the reverse could occur simply by rigging the game until the online gambler has won the money owed to him/her by the casino insider", according to McCormick, A. and Cohen, I.
The Gambling Commission's annual report FY 2012-13 cites 161 complaints against casino operators. It was observed that a large proportion of such complaints were related to the lack of promptness and accuracy in customer payments on the part of the operators.
Responsible Gambling Practices for Casinos Operators:
Based on our detailed research around this subject, Androidslots has a policy of promoting casinos which follow GamCare's 'Player Protection Code of Practice'. As you may be aware, GamCare is a registered charity that has been working hard to address issues surrounding responsible gambling and problem gambling. Below are the 12 codes of practice that casinos are expected to abide by.
1. Age Verification
- 'Over 18s only' sign should be displayed on the home page.
- Casino should have an age verification system in place. Online services provided by Integrity are highly recommended.
- Deposits made by underage players should be returned and their accounts should be closed, as soon as their underage status is discovered.
- A casino's website should be linked to a recognised content filtering software. Cultrix and Net Nanny offer these services.
2. Advertising and Promotion
- Advertising and promotion material (adverts) put out by a casino should be compliant with the industry code of practice for advertising.
- Casino operators should not target underage individuals through their advertising content.
- Adverts should convey balanced message regarding winning and losing.
- Adverts should not encourage players to chase their losses or reinvest their winnings.
- Adverts should not portray gambling as a means to overcoming financial difficulties.
3. Deposit Limits
- There should be a facility for players to set daily, weekly or monthly deposit limits. The above picture shows Deposit Limit facility at mFortune Casino.
- Facility for players to set limit on first deposits should also be provided.
- Any queries related to deposit limits should be responded promptly.
- Casino operator should put in place a robust system that prohibits players from playing beyond set deposit limits.
- There should be a waiting period of minimum 24 hours to get previously set deposit limit increased, however requests to lower previously set deposit limit should be honoured immediately.
4. Reality Checks and Customer-led Session Limits
- Clock displaying current time, local to the player, should be visible at all times on the site.
- There should be clear mention of the amount wagered by the player, and his / her account balance.
- A player should be informed on an hourly basis the number of hours he / she has been playing.
- Facility to set daily time limits should be provided to the players.
- At the end of the last wager of the day, a player should be informed about the number of hours he / she has been playing.
5. Self Exclusion
- Players should be provided with an option to self exclude from gambling at any time.
- The minimum self exclusion period should be six months.
- On self exclusion by a player, his/her account should be closed and the balance amount should be returned.
- Relevant information about self exclusion should be displayed on casinos' Responsible Gambling pages and throughout the site.
- Casino operator should not share any promotional material or gaming adverts with self excluded players.
- Self excluded players should be advised to self exclude from all other betting and gaming activities.
- At the end of the self exclusion period, the player's request for reactivation of the account should be routed through customer service. Automatic reactivation of the account should not be permitted.
6. Responsible Gaming Page
- Link to GamCare's official website should be provided.
- There should be a brief statement of the operator's commitment to responsible gambling.
- Message stating potential harms caused by gambling (if not kept in control) should be clearly mentioned.
- Advice on responsible gambling and relevant information related to problem gambling should be in place.
- Self assessment process should be provided to help players evaluate their gambling behaviour.
- Access to self protection measures such as deposit limits, time limits, self exclusion, etc. should be provided.
- Links to recognised filtering programmes, which enable customers in preventing minors from accessing gambling sites from their accounts, should be provided.
7. Player Accounts
- There should be only one live account per player per casino.
- Players should be provided with a 'My Account' facility – a personalised access to their account history.
8. Free Play / Demo Play
- Underage individuals should not be made eligible for Free Play or Demo Play on casinos.
- It is essential that the game equivalents on Free Play screen are truly representative of the actual real money games, including payout percentages, bonuses, feature games, gameplay rules, paytables, etc.
- Any important responsible gambling links on the real money games should also be accessible from Free / Demo Play game page or console.
9. Social Responsibility Training
- Social responsibility training should be provided to staff members who regularly interact with customers. GamCare's Social Responsibility Training is a highly regarded course.
- Staff should be provided with training on an annual basis, so as to ensure that they are updated with the latest social responsibility practices in the industry.
10. Gaming Licences
AlchemyBet's licence details as on 13th March 2014.
- Casino operators should hold valid licence(s) to host remote / online games on their servers. Displayed above is a sample licence.
- There should be a clear mention on the casino's home page regarding where the operators' gaming licences are regulated.
- There should be a clear display of customer service contact details on casinos' websites which could serve as the first point of contact for players to lodge complaints.
12. Game Fairness
- Casino operators should clearly display the rules of the games to players.
- Rules for a game should remain constant over a reasonable period of time.
- Players should be clearly communicated regarding any changes in rules of the games.
- Games should be Random RNG and RTP tested.
Casino operators may attempt to obtain GamCare Certification, which is awarded for adherence to the above mentioned codes of practice. It is our recommendation that every casino operator obtain this certification, which would be evidence of their responsible gambling practices.
Responsible Gambling Practices for Players
While we have mentioned a whole set of practices that casino operators are expected to establish and follow, as said earlier players too hold equal responsibility towards responsible gambling.
Responsible Gambling for players could be categorised into two sections - Legitimate Gambling and Sensible Gambling:
This section covers legislative aspects of gambling as defined by UK Gambling Act 2005. Players must ensure to keep in mind these key guidelines.
- Gambling is a legally permitted activity in the UK, so nobody can penalise you for indulging in the activity.
- Gamble only if you are at least 18 years old, as underage gambling is illegal in the UK.
- Play only at those casinos which possess valid licences. Find out how to verify the validity of a mobile casino operator’s licence.
- Your winnings from gambling are tax-free, so nobody can deduct any amount from your winnings fraudulently in the name of the tax.
Players should understand that their life is precious, and in their own (and their family's) interests, they should ensure to not get addicted to gambling by spending too much time and money on this activity.
Responsibility of Third Parties (stakeholders)
As well as casinos and players, third parties who have a stake in online and mobile gambling have a responsibility to observe good business practices surrounding it. Some of these practices could be as follows:
- Banks who allow minors to open account could set-up a process of sharing account statements with minors' parents/guardians on a regular basis, and urge them to verify any questionable transactions (which could be between a casino and the individual) have been made.
- Banks and mobile companies could choose to set daily/weekly/monthly deposit limits for any online gambling activity. This initiative could make players play within limits. Taking a lead from the European Commission's recommendation, the government may also decide to demand health warnings on gambling adverts.
- Affiliate magazines and web-magazines who write about the gambling industry could choose to only promote casinos which hold a legitimate licences, and follow responsible gambling and fair gaming practices.
How to Recognise Problem Gambling?
Problem gambling (or pathological gambling) is a serious addiction in which gamblers spend excessive time and money on gambling activity, ie. on land-based casinos, on online or mobile casinos, or any other real money gaming activity. As mentioned previously, various research studies raise a concern about the growing numbers of problem gamblers in the UK, and the consequences of this addiction on the lives of gamblers and their families. However, the line between gambling sensibly and getting addicted to it is thin. It is not easy to identify border line problem gamblers, and such cases come to the surface only once the addiction has completely taken control of a person. Hence it is extremely necessary for gamblers to assess their own gambling behaviour regularly. GamCare's Self Assessment tool is a great aid for players to regularly check for their own gambling behaviour and any possible signs of addiction. It comprises the following 13 questions which gamblers are expected to answer -
- Have others ever criticised your gambling?
- Have you ever lied to cover up the amount of money or time you have gambled?
- Do arguments, frustrations or disappointments make you want to gamble?
- Do you gamble alone for long periods?
- Do you stay away from work, college or school to gamble?
- Do you gamble to escape from a boring or unhappy life?
- Are you reluctant to spend 'gambling money' on anything else?
- Have you lost interest in your family, friends or pastimes due to gambling?
- After losing, do you feel you must try and win back your losses as soon as possible?
- When gambling and you run out of money, do you feel lost and in despair, and need to gamble again as soon as possible?
- Do you gamble until your last penny is gone, even the bus fare home or the cost of a cup of tea?
- Have you lied, stolen or borrowed just to get money to gamble or to pay gambling debts?
- Do you feel depressed or even suicidal because of your gambling?
You are expected to answer in 'Yes' or 'No' for each of these questions. We tested this tool a number of times and came-up with following ready guidelines for our players -
- If your answer is 'No' for all 13 questions, it is a clear sign that you are completely in control and there is no need to worry.
- If your answer is 'Yes' to between 1 and 4 questions, you are recommended to look objectively at your gambling behaviour. There is a possibility that gambling has stopped being an enjoyable and fun activity for you, and has started taking more of your time than you would have wished.
- If your answer is 'Yes' to between 5 and 9 questions, it is a cause for concern as gambling seems to have become much more regular and serious for you, and is affecting how you live your life.
- If your answer is 'Yes' to between 10 and 13 questions, it is an extremely serious sign. It seems that gambling has taken control of your life, and you must stop immediately and seek help.
However, it is necessary for gamblers to be honest enough to answer these questions correctly. Early recognition is crucial to addressing problem gambling effectively.
Support Mechanisms for Problem Gamblers
The UK Gambling Commission has provided excellent information related to various support mechanisms for problem gambling and other gambling related issues. A comprehensive list of these organisations is available below. Click on the title of the organisation to visit its official website (links open in a new tab).
The Androidslots team is committed to continuing its research in this area, and plans to share relevant information related to responsible gambling with its readers. It's necessary for everyone involved in all types of gambling to realise that responsible gambling is not merely an optional good-to-have feature on a website, but has to be practiced by every stakeholder within the gambling industry. With committed contribution from every stakeholder, eliminating problem gambling and making this industry a great place to play at is not a distant dream.