Green gaming tool points to responsible future for online gambling
CEO Per Norman introduces Mr Green & Co's solution to the most important ethical question facing the onling gambling industry
The gaming industry is embroiled in a debate around responsible monetisation. Mobile free-to-play games have been accused of exploiting young and other vulnerable players for years, and increasingly we’re seeing triple-A titles embed loot boxes and other gacha mechanics in their economic model. Per Norman is CEO of online casino operator Mr Green & Co, which has developed a new responsible gaming tool. By combining data on player behaviour with a self-assessment questionnaire, the Mr Green website can tell players when to take a break – and make sure the company itself isn’t promoting unnecessarily risky behaviour.
European CEO: This is an ethical issue which really gets to the heart of the online gambling industry, so, how big is the problem?
Per Norman: It is the most important ethical question for us, and we need to cope with that, and we need to take it seriously.
We know that from a lot of, lot of studies, that about two percent of the population has the risk of developing kind of an addiction. We also know that in people that gamble a lot of course that percentage is higher; which means that we need to make sure that we follow those people that gamble a lot. We need to measure how they actually gamble. And make sure that we can provide them with tools and information; both for them, but also for us as a company, so that we can minimise that potential problem.
European CEO: How does this green gaming tool actually work?
Per Norman: Well, we are an online company, which means we’re 100 percent digital. Which also means that we can track, real-time, everything our customers do.
So by having that information and pouring that into our algorithm, we can measure your risk behaviour. So we measure how you’re playing, the intensity, how often, how you deposit, how you win, how you lose. And based upon all of that, we can see your risk behaviour.
If you take that risk behaviour, and you also do your self-assessment, then we get a complete picture. The self-assessment is important for us because you might play with someone else. So by giving answers to a set of questions, we get that full picture from what you’re saying about how you play, and we know how your actual risk behaviour is from the algorithm that we have developed.
And if you merge these two together, we can have the full picture. And we grade that between one and 100. We use colours as well: green, yellow, and red. Meaning that if you are at red, then you’re playing at risk. It doesn’t mean that you have an addiction problem. But it means that you potentially, in the way you’re playing, could move into becoming a problem.
European CEO: So there is a certain self-moderation element; but you’re also changing your behaviour, the way you interact with your customers, as a result.
Per Norman: Yes. Our responsibility is, we shouldn’t push anyone who is red, for example, to play much more now. Because we know that that probably can burn that customer out.
Also we should give you guidance in what you can do. That could be to take a pause. That could be to set certain limits on time, on money, on deposits: things like that. And this is a way to play for less, but play longer. Because it should be fun, it should be excitement, and it should be entertainment. And this industry would be much more about long relationships; not getting new customers in through a lot of marketing, but to keep the customer for long-term.
European CEO: And so in that sense, as well as being a corporate responsibility issue, it’s a business sustainability one as well.
Per Norman: Yes it is. I mean, the highest cost we have is marketing. And I think that goes for all companies within the industry. And if you can reduce that marketing spend, by keeping your customer longer, that becomes a sustainable, and also profitable, part of the business.
But it’s not only about measuring risk and things like that, but also to create sustainability around the company. It’s a way to attract people to work for us. It’s a way to attract customers, to feel that we are trustworthy and reliable. It’s a way to attract investors, to feel that we have a long-term sustainable strategy in place.
European CEO: You’ve had this tool in place in the UK and in Sweden for a few months now; what have been the results so far?
Per Norman: We have thousands of customers who have opted in and have signed in. They’ve made their test, and we’re actually analysing them.
We’re also now rolling out the model in all the other 12 markets we have – so this quarter, Q4, and Q1 next year will be all across the different markets.
In addition to that, we also increased the education within the company, so everyone – from management teams, customer service, payment, board of directors – go through an education, so they know what it’s all about, so we can really eat and breathe that green gaming is one of the key strategies that we have in the company.
European CEO: What do you see as the future for this tool, or tools like this? Because you are just one company within a very large industry?
Per Norman: Yeah, we’re a small company in a large industry. And this whole industry is also having a bit of a stigmatisation around itself.
So we need to be much, much better: to make sure that we address the problem that exists, which is problematic gaming. And by having these kinds of tools, I also think that you will see regulators demand that everyone that has a licence needs to have a digital tool, to predict and to find if there’s a risky behaviour of the customer.
So I think that will happen. And I think also that customers will like brands that take this very seriously. Because once again: fun, excitement, entertainment. That’s what it’s all about.
European CEO: Per, thank you very much.
Per Norman: Thank you Paul.