2. Create new ways to identify people at risk and intervene effectively – through new technology and the expertise of our frontline colleagues

To prevent harm from gambling, we need to look beyond problem gambling to customers who are at risk – and support them before gambling becomes a problem. By getting closer to our customers and using data differently, we will be able to better spot markers of risk and intervene quickly and effectively.

Improving the use of data and algorithms is a crucial part of spotting risky behaviours…

Experts have been working to identify the gambling behaviours that can signify increased risk of harm. These ‘markers of harm’ are too complex and interconnected for any one person to interpret. That’s why algorithms that can analyse those data are a vital tool in identifying customers who are at risk of harm and helping drive our decisions on how best to interact with them.

We have made good early progress on deploying algorithms, both online and in betting shops. As part of an industry-wide initiative, we launched an algorithm for online betting and gaming to identify customers at risk. This was based on work by PwC to identify the behaviours that commonly lead customers to resort to self-exclusion.

While this algorithm helped us identify some customers experiencing problems, we wanted a deeper view of the factors that lead to risk in the first place, so that we could interact with customers at risk earlier and in a more and targeted way.

In November 2017 we conducted research into a pool of 8,000 of our customers to identify a wider set of characteristics that lead to risk. Using this research, we developed and launched a new algorithm, which considers 40 factors and groups customers by risk level each day.

We found that the top factors most closely associated with risk centre around age and staking and depositing activity, while other key factors included frequency of play, number of products used, erratic play and reversing decisions. This has allowed us to identify many more customers at risk.

Top ten factors associated with increased risk of problem gambling

Top risk factors algorithm

…but it’s developing the right ways of interacting with customers at risk that can make the real difference.

As a company we not only deliver the product but also hold the relationship with the customer. We’re right there with our customer and in betting shops it’s a very personal relationship. That’s a huge asset in being able to reach them at a time when they’re struggling.

‘Responsible gambling interactions’ are a way we interact with those displaying risky behaviours. We conduct around 35,000 responsible gambling interactions every year in shops. A summary of each one of these interactions is reviewed by a member of the compliance team. Over 3,500 of those interactions are followed up with additional support and outreach, and the team sometimes provides long-term ongoing case management for customers who are showing signs of more serious problems.

For online customers, there is a different challenge: without shop colleagues, many interactions need to be automated. This becomes a data and customer relationship management challenge. That’s why an important next step will be new data management tools so that the algorithms we have in place can inform responsible gambling interactions in a comprehensive and tailored way.

It’s not just the quantity of responsible gambling interactions – it’s the quality of those interactions that matters. Through partnerships with expert organisations, we’re learning some of the most important aspects of a successful face-to-face interaction – asking open questions, using positive body language and reflecting the language of the customer.

Red flags that prompt shop staff to undertake interactions

Red flags