WE SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR CUSTOMERS

It is obvious that discussion about the future of gambling business is going on all over the world. It doesn’t matter so much what kind of legal structure you have in gambling business. Of course, there are many differences between monopoly based and license-based systems, but the main challenges & problems are same. The Danish gambling expert Morten Ronde, who I appreciate a lot, compared our situation to previous development of tobacco industry and attitudes against it. It’s possible that the public opinion might turn to be even more against gambling.

I agree with Morten that it sounds familiar when I think what has happened in public opinion about tobacco. Anyhow I don’t think that the same should happen. I admit that gambling will cause serious problems and that should effect on the ways how we run our business. But gambling or gaming is not dangerous for all of us. It’s more like alcohol than tobacco. I think that tobacco is dangerous for all smokers, but alcohol is not for all drinkers. I don’t have any facts about that but it’s just my personal feeling. Of course, alcohol like gambling will cause problems if you consume it too much.

What we should do then? It was again Morten Ronde who said that everything should start from operators. We should have serious will to make everything as good and safe as possible for our customers. If gambling companies just do things because regulator has forced them to do, the situation won’t change. Fake actions are not so effective than serious ones!

I’m not trying to tell what gambling companies should do in practice, but I try to describe the principles which could make things to be better. I have got idea about that from the strategy seminar of KPMG. I believe that if companies, in whatever business they are operating, would follow these advices their business would be better in long term!

You should be trustworthy. If your customers don’t trust on your operations, you are in big problems. You should take integrity issues seriously. It’s absolutely not enough if you just do something in that area and write nice text in your Annual Report but act in different way. Customers will notice that for sure and they will lose trust on you.

I believe in personalization! You should understand the needs of your customers and try to offer your products and services in personalized ways. I think that AI technology will help us here a lot. I hope that AI will help us also when it’s about potential gambling problems. I’m not deep expert on that area but I believe that AI could already quite soon recognize potential problem gamblers.

Maybe I say this too many times, but you should know what your customers are looking for. What are their most important expectations? You should have will to give your customers even better service than they expect to get. You could manage to do it, if you listen to them and utilize data what is available about them. Same for everybody is not the solution in that area.

Now gambling companies seem to have quite big problems with their reputation. There could be many reasons why that’s the cause – too much marketing, too less actions in problem gambling area etc… You should know what the main reasons are and try to make much better actions in the areas which have caused those problems. It would be great to see cases where company could turn week actions to strong ones.

As I have wrote in some of my previous blogs, I think that there lots of different customer groups and their have different kinds of expectations. There are some active customers (active sports and horse punters) who are willing to spend lots of time in gambling but in average customers are looking for simple and quick services. You should develop quick and simple processes where everything will work fine and in a way which customers understand.

I admit that I haven’t been very empathic guy but now, maybe thanks to becoming older, I really believe on that. We should really take care of our customers. We should do everything to secure them although some of them are not willing to be secured. That’s extremely important in businesses like gambling!

WHO ARE INTERESTED IN THE US SPORTS BETTING MARKET?

It’s too long time when I wrote my blog last time. I spent last week in New York/New Jersey in the excellent Betting on Sports America event. I learnt there quite a lot about US Sports Betting opportunities and among other things had chance to give my advices to US lotteries.

I got also some feedback about my blog. I heard that quite many is reading my stories via mobile phone and it has been difficult to read it when I’m writing too long paragraphs. I now try to change my style a little bit and hopefully it will help.

It’s not 100 % sure what will finally happen there in USA. The PASPA decision seemed to chance everything and in fact made Sports Betting legal or at least made it “non-illegal”. But after that there was another court decision which changed almost everything… At this moment there are less than 10 States where Sports Betting is already allowed. There are also 10 – 15 States which are planning to make it possible quite soon. It’s possible that about half of US States will have legal Sports Betting in next few years.

About 90 % or even more of participants of the European Sports Betting seminars are already somehow involved in that business. That’s why I was surprised there in New Jersey when I noticed that at least half of audience didn’t have so much knowledge about our business. That was strange but at the same time fascinating. The whole business might change due/thanks to those newcomers and I’m keen on seeing what will really happen!

I try to make short analyzes about different interest groups who are involved in Sports Betting in USA. The first group is of course customers. There has been huge unregulated/illegal Sports Betting market in USA. Customers are already used to make a bet and that would help a lot but at the same time it means that customers are more critical and enlightened. If US companies won’t succeed very well it would be possible that the unregulated market will stay quite big.

There are lack of information and knowledge about gambling and Sports Betting among politicians and regulators. They should make big decisions but how they could take care of that if they don’t understand enough about consequences? The whole gambling industry should deliver as much valid information as possible, but we should understand that politicians won’t so much for our issues.

All top sports leagues are interested in Sports Betting. Their attitudes vary quite a lot but all of them are now thinking about their role in that new business in USA. The biggest ones NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have already extremely big business by themselves, but they would like to control and get some more revenue also from gambling side. I don’t believe that any leagues would start their own Sports Betting business.

Las Vegas has been the only place in USA where Sports Betting has had legal role already many years. There are lots of gambling companies operating Sports Betting. Those companies might have good position if they could utilize scalability but I’m not sure if they can do that. The most popular sports in USA are different ones compared to Europe. Vegas bookmakers have razor-sharp analyzes about American football, baseball and basketball and it will be very difficult to beat them in those areas.

Some big European Sports Betting companies like William Hill have already established their operations to USA. Those companies are used to offer same products all over the world and scalability is one key word for their success. They have of course chance to manage in US market too, but it would be more difficult than they have expected it to be because they have to make it in slightly different way in all States. I have heard that they haven’t got so good revenues for example in New Jersey as they have expected.

How about US lotteries? They are used to outsourced they business operations to technology suppliers and probably they will do the same if they will decide to move to Sports Betting business. If they would like to manage in the heavy competition, they should control their customer database and operate at least in some areas in different way than the other operators are doing. I gave them two potential business ideas: they could offer “the most responsible” Sports Betting in US or/and they could offer “more lottery style” pool-based sports games too.

Big technology companies are used to operate some gambling products on the behalf of license holders and of course they would like to do the same also in Sports Betting. I won’t be surprised if some of those tech companies would like to own operating license by themselves too.

The big new player in gambling business might be media companies. The message from BOSA seminar was clear – all big US media companies are considering the business possibilities in Sports Betting market. The main scope is to make Sports Betting more entertaining than it has used to be. Media companies’ core customer group is sports fans not heavy punters. I have had that same idea already 15 years… Those big companies like ESPN or NBC have lots of money and if they decide to be big player in Sports Betting business I wouldn’t be surprised if we talk about 9 or even 10 digits investments! I guess that they won’t try to get operating licenses for themselves but some important roles they will have for sure.

There are also lots of investors who are looking for new business opportunities from gambling business. I’m not expert on that area but I have understood that there would be some billions of dollars available investments. Normally private investors are just looking for profits and that would make Sports Betting business even heavier than it’s used to be…

There are many critical things still open in US Sports Betting business. What would happen if interstate gambling would be allowed? It’s obvious that in that case different companies would manage. What kind of limitation there will be – for example now mobile gaming in allowed just in five US States? What will happen if Silicon Valley will concentrate on the gambling technology development? That might chance the whole industry and who will manage then in our business. I’m extremely keen on seeing what will happen and hopefully I could play some role there!

HOW WELL DENMARK HAS SUCCEEDED IN GAMBLING POLICY?

I’m sorry that I made stupid mistake by accident in my previous blog! I wrote that regulated companies had ¾ of gambling marketing in Sweden. That’s not true at all. I was supposed to write that offshore companies had ¾ of that marketing! According to statistics offshore companies had 79 % of gambling marketing and that describes very well that there hasn’t been monopoly in Sweden in practical level. I also forgot to write about the reasons why the former monopoly companies ATG and Svenska Spel have managed so well. I believe that they have done good work but of course their existing brand and customer base have helped a lot. I’m keen on seeing what kind of changes there will happen later this year.

This time I’ll concentrate on Denmark. They started with new kind of gambling legislation from the beginning of 2012, so they have now 7 years’ experience about that. There is still monopoly in lottery business but nowadays the most of gambling business is based on license system. I don’t know what official goals the Danish State set for the new system, but I could guess what they were. Probably there were at least three goals? 1. To get as much gambling as possible to regulated side instead of being illegal one. 2. Maintain or even increase the gambling revenues to the Danish State. 3. Reduce or at least minimize the number of gambling problems. My analysis might be stupid one if those weren’t the goals for that big chance they made there but I’ll take that risk…

The size of offshore gambling business in Denmark increased very much before they decided to change their legislation. The regulator, Spillemyndigheten, didn’t have tools to control actions made by offshore companies and that caused problems to monopoly operator Danske Spil which started to lobby for license system. The basic idea was to get same rules and conditions to all gambling operators in Denmark and to get all companies under control of regulator. There is still illegal gambling market in Denmark but it’s relatively small compared to situation in 2011 (before the change). By the way Spillemyndigheten calls all gambling without the Danish license illegal gambling. So, I would say that Denmark has reached the first goal.

The sale of gambling products has increased over 50 % after the change in 2012. There are big differences between different gambling verticals. Some games, mainly monopoly area, have went slightly down and some areas, online casino and sports betting, have increased a lot. So, the change has been from lower payout games to high payout games. That’s why sale number don’t give the best picture if we think about the profit to the state. The total revenue to the Danish State has been surprisingly stable all the time. State gets revenue from two different sources. There is 20 % gambling tax from GGR and they also get the profit from Danske Lotteri Spil (monopoly business). We could speculate what would happen in Denmark without the big change in gambling legislation? I believe that the revenue to the Danish State would drop and that’s why in big picture Denmark has managed to reach the second goal quite well.

Sports Betting business has changed much more. There are about twenty companies operating Sports Betting in Denmark. That number has been about at the same level from 2012, just slight decrease. During that time sale of sports betting has increased by 250 % and even GGR has raised by 215 % (2018 versus 2012). There have been also big changes in payout percent and distribution channels. Seven years ago the actual payout was about 85 % and last year it was almost 90 %. Theoretical payout is of course much higher, but customers are still using longer combinations and that’s why the actual payout is lower. Sports Betting has moved to internet and mobile channels. Last year about 1/3 of sports betting (GGR) came from land-based channel and almost 50 % from mobile channel and the rest from internet. Actually here in Finland the share of retail channel is even lower than they have there in Denmark. The biggest difference is that Live betting is quite popular in Danske Spil’s retail network.

There seems to be lack of information in the third goal area. For some reason they didn’t make problem gambling survey before they changed the legislation in 2012. The previous data is from 2005 and I think that it doesn’t give the best picture of results. Because I don’t have anything else from that area I should use those old numbers… They made large problem gambling research in 2016 which showed that there has been slight increase in the number of gambling problems compared to 2005. They have dealt problem gamblers to two different groups. There are less than 0,5 % of adults who have serious problems and they call those customers as gambling addicted or problem gamblers. The size of that group has increased a little bit. The other much bigger group is called risk players who are not “sick” yet but might have big risk to get sick. Total number of those two separate group is at the level of 3 % of adults and there has been also slight increase in that amount too. So, I would say that Denmark hasn’t managed very well in that third goal but the result has been surprisingly good if I compare that to the increase of sale and GGR.

As far as I know there are some changes planned in the Danish gambling market. They have already moved some former monopoly game areas, for example horse betting and bingo, to license part. Now there is going on quite heavy discussion about marketing limitations which seems to be the trend in many other countries too. I believe that there would be quite soon more limitations to the marketing of gambling products. One rumor is that it won’t be allowed to have sports betting marketing related to live sports events. There has been also discussions about the ownership of Danske Licens Spil which is still owned mainly by the Danish State but which is competing against other license holders.

I’m keen on seeing which system, the Danish or the Swedish, will finally get better results from all those three goal areas.

WHAT IS GOING ON IN SWEDEN?

Finland has always been some kind of “little brother or sister” of Sweden. We have so called “hate & love” relationship towards Swedish. We try to do things better than they do but unfortunately often we finally decide to copy what they have done. That’s why I’m keen on seeing what results Sweden will get from their new gambling legislation. EU-states could decide about their own gambling legislation as long as they follow EU’s main principles. Countries are observing what is happening in other countries and Finland is used to follow Sweden very closely. So, the Swedish experiences will somehow have impact on the Finnish gambling environment for sure.

Sweden has had monopoly-based gambling system until the end of last year. That was the case in principle level, but real situation has been totally different. Monopoly companies Svenska Spel (lottery, sports betting, casino) and ATG (horse betting) have been the biggest companies, but offshore operators have gained bigger and bigger market share in Sweden. The Swedish gambling regulator, Lotteriinspektionen, hadn’t enough tools and maybe brave to react against those operators. EU Court of Justice was following the Swedish legislation very closely and probably regulator wasn’t sure what they can do. That development caused challenges to ATG and Svenska Spel when they weren’t allowed to compete against offshore operators with same tools. ATG started to talk against monopoly and threatened to move to Malta. Finally also Svenska Spel decided that it would be better to have license-based legislation. Then it was quite easy solution for politicians to decide about new gambling law.

I give some numbers from 2017 which describe the market situation before the new system. The net gaming revenue of whole Swedish gambling business was 22,6 billion SEK (2,2 B€) from which regulated companies had 17,1 B and offshore companies 5,5 B. That meant that offshore companies had 25 % market share and they didn’t have license to operate in Sweden. Svenska Spel had 40 %, ATG 18 % and other regulated companies 17 % market shares. Those offshore companies didn’t have any retail business in Sweden, so all competition was in internet and mobile channels and over 50 % of total gambling happened there. In that online channel regulated companies didn’t manage very well. They had together just 45 % market share which means that offshore operators had already 55 % of that market. In practice there hadn’t been any monopoly in the Swedish gambling market in long time! Gambling companies spent 7,4 B SEK for marketing in Sweden in 2019 and regulated companies had over ¾ of that.

Sweden decided to move to license system in all gambling sectors except in lottery (Lotto, Keno and Instant tickets). There are now about 70 gambling companies which have official license to operate games in Sweden. There are quite many tight rules about what operators can do in Sweden. The former offshore operators are used to use for example bonuses much more than it’s possible to do in Sweden now. The Swedish State has set a goal to raise regulated gambling to 90 % level of total gambling. That sounds to be high level when the Swedish new regulator, Spelinspektionen, is not using blocking tools. I understand when some companies have already announced that it would be better to make business without license. I still believe that regulator will tighten their control to prevent that grey/black market. The Swedish tax level, 18 % of GGR, is lower than they have for example in Denmark and that level should be ok from operators’ point of view although they are complaining about that – they will do that whatever the tax level would be…

There seem to be lots of discussion about enormously increased gambling marketing. Companies are trying to raise their brand and get new customers. They are used to give bonuses to new customers but now they are not allowed to do that and a little bit old fashioned mass media marketing has replaced bonuses. Heavy marketing has already affected negatively on the reputation of gambling business and something must be done soon to prevent that development. It’s too early to analyze financial results and I should do that later – maybe after the H1/2019 results have been published. Anyhow I could analyze the change based on the numbers after two first months. Although there are about 70 license holders the big companies have managed even better than I expected. The net sales in January and February was totally about 3,3 B SEK (320 M€) and ten biggest companies had 85 % market share from that. The winners have been former monopoly companies Svenska Spel and ATG and that should be big disappointment for former offshore operators. Svenska Spel has still monopoly in lottery business and now their three companies have totally 44 % of total gambling business. The monopoly part was in the first two months a little bit over 900 M SEK and that was 28 % of total market. If I drop that monopoly part away and just analyze license market Svenska Spel still has 22 % market share of that area and that is surprisingly high. ATG has lost its’ monopoly in principle but in practice it still has it in horse betting (over 95 % market share?). ATG has managed very well – it has 20 % market share of total gambling business and 28 % share of license market. So totally those two former monopoly companies have almost 2/3 of whole gambling business and from license market they have 42 %. The Swedish based Kindred Group has been the best one among former offshore operators.

It would be important to make analyze from the state point of view, but I don’t have enough information to do it yet. There should be financial results (taxes and profit from monopoly business) but also information from responsible gaming side. The analyze how well the new system is working should be based on those two sides. If financial results have improved but there are more gambling problems then there are still something wrong in that system and probably vice versa too.

I’D LIKE TO BE A COCK BUT I’M AFRAID THAT I’M A CHICKEN

This time I write as a punter. I have played Horse and Sports Betting already more than 40 years. When I started it in 1970’s there was no discussion about responsible gaming issued so I was allowed to make my own bets with few marks (the Finnish currency those days). At the age of 16 – 17 I realized that I was much better Horse punter than an average customer and could make some money from betting. Finally there was period when I just made bets and lived with that. So, I have been serious, almost professional, punter but that was many years ago before I joined in Horse Betting company. I have understood already many years ago than I’m not able to spend enough time to analyze horses and other sports to make big money in Sports Betting. Despite of that I’m still spending lots of time, too much according to my wife, following sports and thinking about Sports Betting.

I was following some football matches yesterday evening and one of those matches was Ligue 1 game Reims – Amiens. Actually I’m not expert of the French football at all but based on my knowledge I noticed that home team Reims was better team and they were unlucky in the first period. The match was 0-2 after the first period and I just thought that there was quite high possibility that it would change during the second half. Based on my analyze and “feeling” I made bet on behalf of draw with odds 8,50 which I thought to be too high odds. I admit that it happens too seldom that I could beat the market and normally market is right and I’m wrong.

Anyhow what happened after that is the reason for this blog. The match went exactly in the way how I was expecting about that. Reims scored 1-2 in 70 mins and finally again in 84 mins. So match was 2-2 and there was about 8-9 minutes time to play. I was getting my money back with odds 8,50 – quite good win for me. I was happy but then for some reason I became a little bit worried and got “an idea” that Reims has so good spirit that they could score one more goal and then I could say goodbye to my potential winnings. As you know there is nice feature in Sports Betting called “cash out”. I think that it’s one of the best innovations in Sports Betting but I’m not normally using it because I think that I should trust on my analyzes and use cash out only in cases where I think that my live analyze is better than the market has – in practice that’s not a case almost ever. But yesterday I was too nervous and thought too much about short term money and made cash out. I won good money anyhow but of course match ended 2-2 and by waiting 7-8 more minutes I would get much more…

The gambler’s way of thinking is strange! I probably made good bet and won not only expected value but also real money, but I wasn’t so happy than I should be. Why? I think that I made stupid move when I used cash out and didn’t trust on my knowledge. I would like to be “cool guy” who knows what he is doing in Horse and Sports Betting and is ready to take risks when they are based on good analytics and will bring results in long term. Yesterday I wasn’t that kind of “cool guy” – a cock and that caused me almost sleepless night. My cash out wasn’t based on any analyze, it was made due to wrong reasons. I’m afraid that I’m rather chicken than cock and that disturbs me a lot!

Sports Betting gives at its best excellent excitement to customers. I have already earlier tried to describe how different customer groups there are in that business. I’m mentally used to be among those “sharks” but in practice I’m already far away from that group. I should admit that I’m not so talent anymore or if I think that in a little bit more positive way, I don’t have enough time to make analyzes. So, I could be better one IF I would have time… That IF causes always too many problems. You could explain many things with that and at the same time refuse to admit the realistic situation. When you are doing that you will probably make more mistakes and finally you will be totally out of business. It doesn’t mean that you couldn’t enjoy in Sports Betting, of course you can. You should know how capable you are and balance your stakes to that level not to the “wannabe-level” or in my case to the level where I used to be 20 – 30 years ago.

I would like to be young talent cock and I’m afraid of being a chicken. Instead of that I now trying to think about new way – maybe I’m old cock who was in old way really capable and now I have became older and not so capable anymore. At least I know what it is needed to be a cock!

I’m fan of eSports

There have been lots of news and stories about eSports in past few years. There seem to be lots of hype around eSports but not only hype but also serious new business opportunities. I have tried to be active in that area and have visited in many seminars and some events to learn and understand more about that “rising star”. It was great to notice last week in ICE event in London how big part of expo and seminar was about eSports.

I think that it’s fun story how eSports became to my life. I was going to participate in one gambling seminar about 5 years ago. I studied the agenda of that event and noticed that there was one session about eSports. That was totally new item to me and for some reason I decided to find out information about that from internet. I read about Counter Strike, Dota 2 and League of Legends. I also was interested in understanding how big that sport was in Finland and found out the ranking list of Finnish players. There was one very familiar name on that list – the same name than my son has. I told that to my son and mentioned that I didn’t know that there is another person in Finland who has the same name (my family name is not common) than he has. The even stranger thing was exact the same nickname. My son looked at me and said “You can’t be serious! It’s me!” It’s obvious that I’m not so good dad when I didn’t know that my son was among the best players in Finland. I didn’t even know that he was playing at all because he hasn’t been active PlayStation-player as a kid.

After that incident I have learnt a lot about eSports. I have got lots of information from stories, events but also from my son. He is not playing eSports actively anymore, but his good friends Jesse and Lasse are doing that at world-class level. Thanks to good sources I have understood how tough sport it’s at the top level. Those players are real professionals who are practicing hours and hours every day. It’s not at all just geeks with energy drinks!

Is eSports sport or not? That has been the theme of public discussion here in Finland. To me it’s sport for sure but I think that it’s totally irrelevant question. I believe that active eSports players don’t care about that at all. That discussion started in big newspapers more than one year ago when the organizer of the Finnish Sport Gala published the candidates for the best athlete in Finland. One of those candidates was MATUMBAMAN who won with his team The International tournament in Dota 2 (World Championship). Almost at the same time the Finnish Olympic Committee took eSports under their umbrella. Last year the same kind of discussion started again when JERAX and TOPSON won the same The International tournament and got invitation to the President Palace and SERRAL won the World Championship in Star Craft II game. It’s obvious that we have lots of top level eSports players here in Finland!

What is the relationship between eSports and Sports Betting? Some years ago, gambling companies were thinking about to introduce some gambling features inside eSports games, but it didn’t finally happen because that kind of action would change those games and that should be purpose. Instead of that companies decided to offer eSports in Sports Betting as any other sports. It has worked well at least here in Finland. It depends a little bit how you analyze the popularity of different sports in Sports Betting, but I could say that eSports in nowadays among the 4 – 6 most popular sports in Veikkaus offering. It’s at the same level or even higher than for example basketball. I believe that there would be lots of new ideas and options left. We tested one new thing, probably as the first company in the world, this week. We introduced eSports “Football Pools”-game. You know the game where you should select “home win”, “draw” or “away win” from 12 – 14 matches. This time those matches were eSports matches.

What gambling companies could reach by offering eSports and what are the biggest risks? Customers who are making bets in eSports are younger (not too young!) than average Sports Betting customers. They are not using a lot of money but are quite active to do it from weekly basis. That new potential target group is also reason why some gambling companies are nowadays sponsoring eSports events – it will give good reputation among younger customers. I visited in Counter Strike Major tournament in London and were surprised about the structure of audience. There were lots of young people but not so young than I expected them to be. There were quite few who were under 18 years old. I was probably the oldest one at the Wembley Arena but that’s another story… Of course, there is also few quite big risks due to those quite young players. The first on is the risk of match fixing. eSports players don’t understand those risks because they are not aware about that. That’s why gambling companies and eSports organizations should concentrate on education. The other risk is more related to Sports Betting. Companies shouldn’t make any marketing campaigns in the events where are underage audience than that’s very difficult to control.

I believe that the popularity of eSports will increase and there is also huge potential from Sports Betting business point of view too. But we should seriously take care of the integrity of eSports at the same time!

RESPONSIBILITY – OPPORTUNITY OR THREAT?

Responsibility is ”the theme of the day” in gambling business. My colleague Sami Siltanen wrote about that in his blog www.patakuningas.com (in Finnish) last week. I decided to continue with the same theme but from slightly different perspective. You might think that everything has been said about responsible gaming and it’s impossible to find out any new views. That’s probably the case but it’s so important issue that I should try!

Gambling is so dangerous that states have decided to control that business heavily. Some of customers have big problems to control their own gambling. It’s very similar case than in alcohol consumption. If player can’t control his/her gambling the result could be extremely fatal. Society and gambling companies should do their best to prevent those cases.

EC Court of Justice has stated that the member states have possibility in gambling business to limit the free movement of products and services which is against the main principles of EC. That limitation would be possible if that would help member state to prevent problems related to gambling. That kind of problems could be criminal actions and also gambling problems.

What society could do to prevent gambling problems? Countries like Finland who have monopoly system in gambling business have an idea that monopoly at itself will reduce gambling and that would further reduce gambling problems. There are own gambling laws and rules in all countries and those laws will help states to control also gambling problems in principle level. Authorities have also some tools and they try to do their best to control gambling operations in practical level too. One big challenge is that digitalization has already break the state lines in practical level and it is more difficult to control all gambling.

I would say that there are two kind of problem gamblers. According to surveys there seem to be about 1 % of adults who have serious gambling problem – it’s like disease and their really need treatment for that. That 1 % level is surprisingly same in different countries although gambling legislations are quite different ones. According to surveys there are about 40 000 people who have serious gambling problems in Finland. Totally there are approximately 3 % of adults who suffer somehow from gambling issues. Those serious gambling addicts are included in that 3 %. So, there are totally about 130 000 Finns who have some kind of gambling problems and 1/3 of them have big problems. These numbers have been at the same level already years. There has been surprisingly less change in those numbers although the volume of gambling has increased.

What gambling company could or should do? I listened to the Swedish gambling problem researcher Thomas Nilsson already 25 years ago and I still remember what he said. According to Nilsson there are not so much what gambling company could do to prevent problems of those addicted players. They will find out new way to gamble anyhow and the society should take care of treatment of those people. Gambling companies should concentrate on the group of customers who have some problems and try to prevent them to move to more serious group. There are some tools like gambling limits and marketing pans which companies could use. Companies have nowadays more tools than they had before because there are more data available and that help companies to analyze their customers. From prevention point of view, it would be good to combine information from health care and gambling because then companies could even blog out all gambling addicted consumers. I understand why this is illegal from privacy and information security point of view and won’t happen…

Quite many gambling companies have started to talk about how responsible firms they are. Almost all companies have limits for gambling and they justify those limits with problem gambling reasons. In many cases that’s not the real reason at all! According to researches there seem to be just light correlation between gambling volume (euros) and problem gambling. If company would real like to reduce gambling problems responsibility should set up guidelines for whole business operations. Companies shouldn’t ask are we willing to select our business goals or responsibility! Gambling companies should decide frames for their business operations based on responsible values. Company should operate inside those frames. It should be clear to all employees what company could do and what not. There are for example product development tools which help to analyze how dangerous new game would be and it shouldn’t be allowed to introduce too addicted games. In short term it would be tough to notice that company will lose some customers to more irresponsible operators but in long term more responsible companies will finally win. I believe that responsibility will be one of the most important competitive edge in gambling business. The reason for that is that customers will trust on responsible companies more than the other ones!