New knowledge, new tools, and limits
Norsk Tipping’s ambition is to be a world leader in responsible gaming. Constantly improving player protection involves having to systematically learn more about how players act, what creates problems, and how measures should be designed to be as effective as possible.
The groups that work on responsibility in Norsk Tipping have a long tradition of collaborating with recognised research environments and the company itself employs research-based methods to gain more knowledge that can be used in preventive work. The most important key to knowledge is Norsk Tipping’s customer database, which contains data about player behaviour. Aggregated customer data is used as a source for developing new preventive measures and to provide researchers with unique insights into how different measures work.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the gaming offering in 2020. The vast majority of active sports stopped across the globe. The closure of the terminal games Multix and Belago shut out a large group of players from the games they were used to playing regularly. Working from home and furloughs resulted in a different everyday life for many. Using analyses and customer surveys, Norsk Tipping has closely monitored the effects this has had on players and this knowledge will be valuable for the future work on prevention.
Tighter restrictions in December
It was not until towards the end of the year when we first saw clear signs of the customer base and turnover having moved in the direction of higher risk: more players in the risk zone and a higher proportion of revenue in the red category. A number of steps were taken immediately to stop this negative trend. The measures helped a bit, although not enough for the overall trend in 2020 to end up on the positive side of the scales.
The measures include:
- Reducing the monthly loss limit for online gaming from NOK 10,000 to NOK 7,500.
- Reducing the daily loss limit for the same group of players from NOK 4,000 to NOK 2,000.
- Stopping all direct communications with customers aged 18-25.
- Expanding mandatory gaming breaks after 1 hour’s play from 90 seconds to 15 minutes.
- More cool off measures for KongKasino, Norsk Tipping’s online casino.
The measures were initially due to last until January, but the company has decided that more time and insights are needed to assess whether any measures should be terminated, and if so which, and whether any should be extended. Therefore, all of the measures were extended until the end of 2021.
Several countries’ regulatory authorities require mandatory breaks. This is recommended by gambling addiction researchers based on the hypothesis that a mandatory break will snap the player out of their ‘gaming trance’ and thus give them an opportunity to think twice.
However, the research data supporting the measure has been weak. Researchers have disagreed about the extent to which gaming breaks have a cooling off effect or in fact create a craving to gamble. Norsk Tipping wanted to learn more about what type of mandatory gaming break has the best preventive effects and least adverse effect, for example in the form of players choosing unregulated gaming companies instead.
In 2020, Norsk Tipping carried out a research project together with the researchers Michael Auer and Mark Griffiths. The main purpose was to find the mandatory break variant with the best preventive effects and the least risk of negative channelling. The effect of 90-second, 5-minute, and 15-minute breaks is indicated by looking at the period from the end of the break until a new round of gaming starts. A longer pause between the next round of gaming shows that the break prevents the player from playing and ends a possible state of dissociation.
The results from the survey show that the longest pause period was observed in players subject to 15-minute gaming breaks. For these, the period between the end of the break and the start of the next round of gaming was 13 times longer than for players subject to 90-second breaks. This suggests that longer breaks have a better effect. Given that the survey did not find that mandatory breaks resulted in an elevated risk of negative channelling either, but that the players continued to play via Norsk Tipping, there is good reason to introduce 15-minute breaks.
Articles based on the research project will be published in spring 2021. The results are expected to be of major international interest, especially since this has been an experimental study involving real player data from Norsk Tipping. For the company’s part, the survey provided the basis for changing mandatory gambling breaks in December.
The company has a strong responsibility framework but sees potential for developing more personalised measures that are more effective for more people. Data about the customers’ behaviour is available in real-time and this has made it possible for Norsk Tipping to develop a comprehensive solution for event-based, personalised player follow-up (in Norwegian). During 2020, a dedicated innovation team worked step-by-step on developing the solution, which is intended to interact with the customer based on algorithms and with the aid of machine learning. The goal is to prevent, detect and respond to adverse gaming behaviour and take the initiative regarding new measures when there are grounds to do so. This innovation is yet another example of the value of Norsk Tipping’s customer data.
Proactive calls are phone calls made to players with risky gaming behaviour and a high level of losses through Norsk Tipping. Customers are informed, and made aware, of their spending on gaming and about possible voluntary measures for limiting their gaming. The measures can help to reduce and lock-in loss limits, exclusion and breaks for one or more games. The customer service representatives help customers take concrete steps and, if necessary, provide information about help and treatment offers.
In 2020, Norsk Tipping focused on four target groups for proactive calls:
- Young players aged 18-30 who have lost the most money in the past 6 months;
- Customers who have lost the most money during Covid-19;
- Customers with high losses on instagames in the past 6 months; and
- Customers with high losses on Multix/Belago in the past 12 months.
In 2020, proactive calls were made to 2,040 customers, 752 follow-up calls were made, and letters were sent to 229 customers who did not answer the telephone after repeated attempts at proactive calls. For the year as a whole, measures were agreed for 67 per cent of the players.
Some 89 per cent of those who receive such a call think the measure is positive and only 2.5 per cent negative. Some 8.5 per cent are neutral.
Gamban gaming filter
Norsk Tipping has offered a voluntary and free ‘gaming filter’ for use on PCs and mobile phones, called Gamban (link target is in Norwegian), since November 2020. Once the service has been installed and activated on a PC/Mac, phone, or tablet, it blocks access to all types of gaming sites, including Norsk Tipping’s gaming offering.
The filter will be an effective supplement to the company’s responsibility services such as breaks, exclusions, loss limits, referrals to other help services, etc.
Licences for the filter are distributed in connection with proactive calls or when a player or family member contacts customer services. In addition to distributing licences through proactive calls, an agreement has also been entered into with Gambling Addiction Norway which can distribute licences to its own users.
Some 306 licences were distributed to players and family members in 2020.