In France, at the instigation of the ANJ (National Gaming Authority), operators have made the fight against gambling addiction a priority. For those who gamble online, it remains difficult to accurately assess the share of gamblers affected by gambling addiction.
Belgian group Circus operates, online and land-based, in Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States and whose subsidiary Circus Casinos France, operates seven casinos as well as a club of games in France and a casino in Switzerland.
Emmanuel Mewissen, CEO of Gaming1, said: “Our positioning with responsible gaming is an integral part of the group’s DNA, notably through our values of integrity and pleasure. A person overstepping this limit by loss of control is clearly no longer in our sphere of exploitation.”
To keep the game fun, Circus relies on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and has developed the Proactive Detection System (PDS) software. “This PDS program was developed on the basis of an artificial intelligence which analyzes the player’s game according to the connection time, the average bets he puts into play, the evolution of the amounts he places, the speed of game according to the frequency of clicks… All this gives us indications relating to the fact that the player becomes addicted”, explained Sébastien Leclercq, General Manager France of the Circus Casino France group, which also belongs to Gaming1.
“Proactive Detection System aims to detect, alert and educate”, added Thibaut Collard, Chief Compliance Officer at Gaming1. The genesis of this program dates back to 2018, and has been applied since 2020 in Belgium, initially, and then on the group’s other platforms. As part of the creation of this software, the Circus and Gaming1 teams have identified risk indicators, which are deviations from the normal behavior of a player: frequency of play, average bets, connection time, average deposit amount. If, for example, an increase in the deposit amount, deposit frequency, increase in stakes, bets at higher odds or combination bets are observed, this is an indicator of risk. Similarly, a player with a big win, who does not transfer the money to a bank account and quickly loses it, is another example of a risk indicator. Data scientists then modeled these risk indicators on circus.be, before the players were classified on a scale ranging from zero to five, five embodying the maximum risk. As soon as their account is created, all players are contacted by Circus to remind them of the recreational nature of the game. Each of them is also informed of all the tools made available to them by the operator so that the game remains pleasure. If the player rises on the risk scale of the Proactive Detection System (PDS), he is contacted by the Responsible Gaming teams of Gaming1. The player then receives advice on the behavior to adopt. From levels three and four, the information provided becomes incentive. “And if a player reaches level five, he is contacted by email and we ask if he agrees to give us a telephone interview to discuss his mode of play,” explained Mr. Collard. “Beyond the undeniable help that the PDS brings us, we also provide our staff with training that allows them to be aware of the detection of players in a weak situation”, continues Sébastien Leclercq, according to whom the human retains a major role in this area at Circus, which has also sent analysts to the field to develop human expertise in terms of responsible gaming.
Detecting risky behavior has its limits, however. Mr Collard explained: “Our role is to detect behavior that can be likened to addiction, but we are not doctors. We therefore have no coercive power over players and cannot under any circumstances force them to follow a treatment protocol, for example. On the other hand, if their risky practice continues, we can suspend their account. However, this does not solve the problem, since the player remains free to play on another site.”
Despite this caveat, the program has been very positively received by regulators, who have, for the most part, taken a tough stance on responsible gambling. Leader in this sector in Belgium, the Ardent group, the parent company of Circus, has made a significant investment for this program.
“We did not invent anything, some software providers already offer this type of tool. On the other hand, we made the decision to invest and develop it internally in order to have a tool that is 100% adapted to our products. We work in close collaboration with the Belgian Gaming Commission and provide them with regular feedback on our results,” added Mr. Collard.
Magali Clavie, president of the Belgian Gaming Commission, commented: “We have already been able to jointly carry out prevention and awareness campaigns alongside the Ardent group and I am delighted, because it is essential to reach the greatest number of players.”
The latter, which wishes to reinforce the protection of the player by introducing a duty of supervision, at the expense of the licensee, in order to be able to take, if necessary, certain measures in the event of indications of problematic gambling behavior, welcomes that Circus , like the other entities of the Ardent group, has, on a voluntary basis, already set up such a detection system. The Gaming Commission would like to go even further and hopes that this supervisory duty incumbent on operators can be anchored in law.
“We have already been able to jointly carry out prevention and awareness campaigns alongside the Ardent group and I am delighted, because it is essential to reach the greatest number of players”, Ms Clavie added.
The Commission is hoping to reinforce the protection of the player by introducing a duty of supervision, at the expense of the licensee, in order to be able to take, if necessary, certain measures in the event of indications of problematic gambling behavior, welcomes that Circus , like the other entities of the Ardent group, has, on a voluntary basis, already set up such a detection system. The Gaming Commission would like to go even further and hopes that this supervisory duty incumbent on operators can be anchored in law.
“To achieve fully responsible and recreational gaming, consultation with the sector is essential and should ideally be able to be part of a co-regulatory framework, where the regulator could work, on certain aspects, with the operators, in order to enact set of appropriate standards of conduct”, Ms Clavie added.