Author: Per Norman, CEO, Mr Green
8 Feb 2018
The online casino and gambling industry has achieved rapid growth in the past few years, with the European market leading the way. The European Commission estimates the EU gambling market is worth approximately €84.9bn, with a yearly growth rate of around three percent. Every month, up to 6.9 million Europeans go online to take part in what is meant to be a fun and entertaining gaming experience.
But at the same time, the online gaming industry has been forced to grapple with the reality that some customers will likely become problem gamblers, with an estimated two percent of the population habouring addictive personality tendencies. Inevitably, some of these individuals will find their way onto online gaming sites and engage in risky behaviour. Therefore, green gaming (or responsible gaming) is one of the most important sustainability areas in the industry.
How can the online gaming industry better identify these players, stop risky behaviour before it starts and encourage fun as well as healthy gaming practices? These are questions the majority of gaming companies are only just starting to address.
A handful of methods have been tested by various gaming companies to limit players’ exposure to risk – from giving players the chance to set budget limits to enforcing time outs. But while many have talked of keeping gaming responsible and ‘green’, few have attempted to confront the problem head on. This is where online casino operator Mr Green hopes to change the paradigm and inspire competitors with its new Green Gaming Predictive Tool.
The Green Gaming Predictive Tool is unique and brings advanced data analytics to the online gaming industry. The tool starts with an optional self-test where players answer a battery of questions about their playing behaviour. From there, players can keep track of their actual playing patterns in real time via a dashboard that indicates whether they are low risk (green zone), medium risk (yellow zone) or high risk (red zone).
Meanwhile, Mr Green analyses customers’ actual playing patterns by measuring variables such as risk, intensity, change and volume. This data is then combined with the customer’s own perception of their playing habits to provide a comprehensive account of the player’s risk profile. Once the customer’s level of risk has been identified, Mr Green adapts its communications to ensure its marketing material doesn’t target those with the potential to develop a gambling problem. Insights from the tool also influence the development of new games, as well as the type of content each customer sees during their playing journey.
The entire gaming industry needs to work together to create innovative solutions that will help customers recognise risky behaviour, no matter which online operator they go to
Per Norman, CEO of Mr Green, acknowledges that this approach may seem counter-intuitive from a pure profit perspective – after all, most businesses do everything in their power to get customers to spend more and avoid setting limits. “Ultimately, green gaming is part of our bottom line and makes us a stronger, more sustainable company going forward,” Norman said. “We would rather have a loyal, long-term customer that plays responsibly and makes low-wage bets than a high-risk customer making a big wager one month and going to a competitor the next.”
Safety in numbers
The fact that problem gamblers frequently move from one online casino site to another makes them harder to identify and track. It means the entire industry needs to work together to create innovative solutions that will help customers recognise risky behaviour, no matter which online operator they go to. For Norman, the hope is that Mr Green’s Green Gaming Predictive Tool will be one of many within the industry, ensuring every customer can maintain control of their playing habits and have a positive experience on any site.
“We’ve built this unique platform, but the goal is that many others in the industry will be inspired and follow our lead,” Norman said. “For us, understanding our customers means focusing on the person, not the product. We want to make online gaming a safer experience for customers, using a positive rather than punitive approach.”
Norman points to Mr Green’s roots in the online industry – as well as his own background in media and tech companies – as the inspiration for the Green Gaming Predictive Tool. He believes this experience prompted the company to look beyond the typical methods adopted by physical casinos to limit playing time, pushing Mr Green towards the latest innovative methods within tech, analysis and psychology to confront unhealthy gaming patterns and put the player in control. This is further reflected in the fact that the tool was developed in collaboration with Sustainable Interaction, the leading developer of self-help programmes and diagnostic tools in the areas of responsible gaming and psychosocial health.
Launched in Sweden and the UK in September, the Green Gaming Predictive Tool is already attracting positive responses from thousands of customers who have found it useful when setting limits and re-evaluating their playing behaviour.
For Mr Green, the Green Gaming Predictive Tool is just one part of its overall business strategy, which is made up of considerations such as user experience, product offering, geographical expansion, sustainability and brand.
Looking forward, Norman is optimistic the gaming industry may finally be ready to go green and tackle sustainability issues like responsible gaming: “We have to remember, the online gaming industry is still relatively young and finding its footing. In some areas we have seen innovative tech advances, while in other areas, like analysing user data and steering users towards better choices, the industry has been late to the game. This needs to change now.”
As the industry continues on this path of robust growth in Europe – with thousands of new users joining the online gaming community every day – gaming companies must develop comprehensive strategies to encourage sustainability, giving their users the tools to make responsible gaming choices both now and in the future.