Entain Launches Affordability Model

Online casino and sports betting operator Entain has launched an innovative new UK affordability model, which it says will radically improve player protections. The move comes as the industry seeks to raise standards and avoid more restricted regulations. Entain’s new system consists of automated affordability checks and personalized stake limits.

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Entain is striving to offer the safest gaming platforms for players in the UK. ©Vlada Karpovich/Pexels

Leading Industry Standards

UK based operator Entain has unveiled new efforts to protect customers from gambling harms. The technology has been dubbed ARC, an abbreviation of “Advanced Responsibility and Care”. ARC works by detecting customers who face the greatest risk of gambling harms and financial risk. To protect those players, the system then implements measured stake limits and bolsters affordability checks.

It marks the latest use of cutting-edge technology from an operator that is now seeking to lead the industry on customer protections. Ever since the gambling firm started operating under its new name, after rebranding from GVC, Entain has been on a mission to corner the market offering the best and safest platforms for customers.

All fourteen of Entain’s UK brands are subject to affordability checks. While the name Entain might not be so familiar amongst customers, the company is better known for running some of the UK’s most popular betting and gaming sites. These include bookmakers Ladbrokes, Coral and bwin, as well as gaming platforms partypoker, Gala Bingo and Foxy Games.

According to Entain, it is the first gambling operator in the UK to offer a combined system of customized player protections, affordability checks and stake limits. The new technology will be fully rolled out by summer 2021, as Entain seeks to move quickly on making its products safer for consumers. Safer gaming has become a hotly debated topic in recent years, and pressure is mounting on the industry to raise standards.

The UK government launched a review of its gambling laws before Christmas, with the results expected to be published soon. MPs and campaigners have called for a number of wide-ranging curbs on the industry, such as stake caps on online slots, restrictions on VIP schemes and a ban on football shirt sponsorships from bookmakers.

The government’s review is focused on bringing the 2005 Gambling Act up to date with the digital age, but it could also introduce some strict new rules for operators. The government held a consultation to compile public views on some of the industry’s key issues. The call for evidence, which closed at the end of March, included questions on the effectiveness of current online protections, account limits and customer checks.

Good for Racing Industry

Companies like Entain are keen to get their houses in order quickly, to avoid stricter sanctions being imposed upon them when the conclusions of the review are made public. It is important that operators make gaming as safe as possible without detracting from the fun of playing. Group operations director at Entain, Peter Marcus, explained what makes ARC different from other systems, stating:

“We have been working on player affordability concepts for the past 18 months as part of our ARC affordability program. This aims to identify relevant limits at the right time to protect customers whom our technology has identified as being vulnerable, or particularly at risk”

Marcus went further, adding that Entain only increases limits for customers that its system has identified as being at financial risk if the customer provides more affordability information. That means that customers who show no signs of financial risk can play freely, while those who could be at risk are protected on a personalized basis.

Speaking on behalf of the operator, Marcus said that ARC’s innovations are important in preserving the freedoms of players whilst safeguarding them from harms. It is also thought that technologies like ARC will be of great benefit to industries like horse-racing, which has raised concerns over the impact of blanket measures.

In January, members of the British Horseracing Authority voiced their worries over how new online betting affordability thresholds could impact the industry. The Gambling Commission had suggested imposing new financial checks on operators, in order to reduce levels of problem gambling. However, the racing body said that this could have dire economic consequences.

According to the BHA, most racing bets are placed online. The sport is not considered to have a problem with gambling addiction. Sports betting is a hugely important source of revenue for racing, by boosting viewership and through lucrative sponsorship deals. The sport is already struggling to recover from the impact of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic many events have been cancelled or have taken place without spectators.

Customized Protections

ARC’s affordability framework uses open source and commercially available data on customers, as well as data on their playing behaviors. Its makers have developed various models based on potential levels of financial risk, and these are now being used across Entain’s brands. Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO at Entain, praised ARC’s ability to cater to the needs of each unique customer, saying:

“We firmly believe that a more personalized, individual approach to player protection is the way forward which is why, for the most vulnerable customers, we have taken action as soon as we can. We are deeply committed to giving every customer the best experiences and protection we can, tailored to their particular needs.”

Entain has said that it will continue to improve ARC as more models on player behaviors and indicators are still being developed. This will include variable stake limits, personalized according to the risks faced by each customer. According to trials, Entain was able to reduce staking and deposit limits by roughly 55%, for customers it interacted with to offer betting and gaming tools.

The company’s tests have shown that ARC can have a positive impact on player behaviors and reduce the level of risk that customers are exposed to. After its UK rollout this summer, the operator hopes that it will be able to introduce ARC to the other countries in which it offers its products. ARC will be modified according to each jurisdiction, to have the best impact.

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