BetBuddy is designed to drive proactive, real-time interaction with players, including personalized in-game messaging
Playtech is the online gaming software supplier of well-known gambling brands such as iPoker and Bet365.
The company’s BetBuddy Responsible Gambling (RG) analytics platform has been a core part of its offering to its network partners for the past five years.
BetBuddy offers Playtech-powered networks the ability to:
- Access in-depth player risk profiles and behaviors
- Easily integrate access to all player data
- Offer in-game messaging
- Deliver personalized RG messaging
- Offer training on all things responsible gambling & RG-specific support
As part of the wider RG efforts, the company has created Playtech Protect to “bring together RG and compliance technology, tools, services, and research to further invest in a new era of innovation in responsible gambling and consumer protection.” Playtech hopes to become the leader of “innovation” and, as such, one of the safest places a player can choose to gamble.
Within that sits the company’s Sustainable Success program, which will see Playtech:
- Powering safer gambling solutions
- Promoting integrity and an inclusive culture
- Partnering on shared societal challenges
In 2020, Playtech announced it was plowing in £5 million to fund partners working to help people live healthier online lives. As such, Playtech has worked with the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) of Canada to support one of the first in-depth research papers on how online gambling relates to digital well-being.
We dig into all this and more as Richard Bayliss, Senior Regulatory Affairs and Compliance Manager at Playtech, speaks to us about all things responsible gaming.
Please tell us about your role at Playtech.
I work on the Playtech Protect unit. This focuses on delivering the best range of products and services to support our licensees and their strategies, enabling them to meet their regulatory and safer gambling requirements in all the markets in which they operate.
We would like to understand your responsible gaming strategy at Playtech. How does RG filter down to your network of sites?
Leading the way on safer gambling is a long-time core principle of Playtech’s strategy, which is reflected by our significant investment in this area over the last five yearsLeading the way on safer gambling is a long-time core principle of Playtech’s strategy, which is reflected by our significant investment in this area over the last five years, beginning with the acquisition of BetBuddy, our award-winning safer gambling analytics platform, in 2017. BetBuddy is designed to drive proactive, real-time interaction with players, including with personalized in-game messaging. By enabling operators to engage with players as they play, we can encourage ongoing, longer-term interaction tailored to an individual rather than a blanket approach.
Playtech is a company with a long history of growth via acquisition, but BetBuddy marked a change in our usual strategy in that respect. It was not a financially driven acquisition, but a conscious move to invest in the ongoing development of safer gambling. We have a long-term partnership with the Research Centre for Machine Learning at the City University of London and are continuously benchmarking the machine learning behind BetBuddy. If we are going to deliver everything operators need to support their players, and to navigate the regulatory challenges around safer gambling, our strategy and our products need to be ever-evolving.
The principal strategy behind Playtech Protect is to provide the industry with the best in safer gambling technology, services, and expertise The principal strategy behind Playtech Protect is to provide the industry with the best in safer gambling technology, services, and expertise, whether that’s our products and services or those of specialist third parties. There is knowledge and skill out there in the wider industry, including fraud prevention, player verification, and other key compliance services, that can be of great benefit to our licensees — and if they can protect their business, this filters down into protecting players too.
Please tell us more about the £5m pledged to research as part of your Sustainable Success Strategy.
Playtech has continued to increase its investment in research, education, and treatment programs designed to reduce gambling-related harm. In 2020, we committed to £5 million over the next five years to fund partners who are working to help people live healthier online lives and adopt digital well-being and resilience. This has included funding research projects and supporting projects designed to address specific issues, such as the GamCare Gambling Related Financial Harm project and helping fund the launch of the EPIC Restart Foundation, which offers practical support to help people rebuild a positive life after experiencing harm from gambling.
Now that you are halfway through this strategy (I understand it comes to an end in 2025), what have you achieved, and what do you still hope to achieve?
RGC has examined the links between mental health, digital well-being, and gambling by using a combination of a literature review and an online survey of 2,000 adults in Canada, the US, and the UKSome of the initial focus was on building the necessary partnerships and relationships with other organizations so that we could deliver successful and impactful projects. We are pleased with our progress on this, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Since then, we’ve funded several different projects across a range of different areas. These have included the Mindful Resilience Programme — a partnership between YGAM, BetKnowMore, and Bournemouth University that seeks to build the skills and capabilities of healthcare professionals in addressing the harms that children and young people may experience from gaming or gambling.
The GamCare Gambling Related Financial Harm project has enabled four key sectors — financial services, debt advice, gambling businesses, and gambling treatment services — to raise awareness of gambling-related financial harm, share knowledge, and develop best practices to help vulnerable customers.
As part of our collaboration with the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), we are supporting one of the first examinations of how online gambling relates to digital well-being.
As part of this project, RGC has examined the links between mental health, digital well-being, and gambling by using a combination of a literature review and an online survey of 2,000 adults in Canada, the US, and the UK.
We also implemented a new research partnership with Kindbridge — the world’s first virtual mental health clinic for gamblers and gamers — in 2021 to evaluate and enhance the effectiveness of virtual safer gambling treatment and support. The Kindbridge Research Institute commissioned the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey to set up an evidence-based telehealth model, with the research allowing data on an unprecedented size and scale to be used for peer-reviewed research.
What do you think operators do well regarding responsible gaming measures, and what do you think they could be doing better?
Safer gambling strategies and technologies have to continue to evolveI believe we’ve seen a very encouraging positive shift in attitudes to safer gambling across the wider industry over the last five years.
Financial investment is, of course, significant, but operators have been changing their cultures to support and enable safer gambling.
As I’ve touched on, safer gambling strategies and technologies have to continue to evolve — it’s in the interests of operators and providers alike to engage with academics and other experts in reducing gambling-related harm, such as charities and treatment providers. This will help the industry provide a safe environment for customers and meet and exceed requirements in new and existing markets.
Read the RGC research paper “Gambling Digital Tools Across The Player Spectrum” below.