Home In-DepthAnalysis Self-exclusion Standards – Interview with Casino Guru’s Šimon Vincze

Self-exclusion Standards – Interview with Casino Guru’s Šimon Vincze

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This week, TheGamblest is hosting an exclusive iGaming Talks edition featuring Šimon Vincze, Head of Sustainable & Safer Gambling at Casino Guru.

In this edition, Simon will discuss the history and potential benefits of Casino Guru, the main purpose of their newly launched self-exclusion project, the phases of the project, his vision for the future of self-exclusion in the iGaming industry, and much more interesting.

TheGamblest: Simon, let’s first delve into the history of Casino Guru and its potential benefits. What is the platform’s current status in the industry, and what special services does it offer?

Šimon: Casino Guru has truly distinguished itself in the online casino sphere thanks to its unique approach to building a comprehensive database and conducting thorough evaluations of operators. This approach has set us apart and established us as a leading authority in the industry. Even though we generate revenue through affiliation, our website is dedicated to players. Running the biggest community in online gambling alongside the most comprehensive complaints resolution service underscores that.

That surely does not mean that we have the answer for everything. We will not be much without our partners and without approaching those partners respectfully. Our principles are anchored in our values, data analyses, ethics, and experience within the world of online casinos, but we never simply pester a brand or a website. We are doing our best to be objective and explain why we believe that something is considered less safe for our visitors. My colleagues spend considerable time working with casinos on changes to increase their Safety Index and provide better value to their players. Over time, we have assisted more than 500 online casinos and helped them change their Terms & Conditions.

On top of that comes my agenda, focused on making a positive impact on the broader online gambling community via social responsibility projects as Global Self-exclusion Initiative or Casino Guru Academy.

TheGamblest: Casino Guru has recently launched a new project related to Self-exclusion, can you tell us how you came up with the idea and what is the main purpose of the project?

Šimon: When we considered the details of the self-exclusion process inside a potential global system, we realized that every jurisdiction has different requirements. There is currently no international standard for online self-exclusion process, and players in different countries are subjected to different treatment. That creates unequal effectiveness and zero ability to compare. I started talking about it with Dr Margaret Carran from City, University of London, and we decided to change that by running a comprehensive project called Self-exclusion Standards. She leads the work and chairs our workgroup and Casino Guru sponsors it and facilitates meetings. The final paper will be presented on behalf of the City, and the work results will be a set of recommendations for increased effectiveness

TheGamblest: What are the main phases of the project, and what was the aim of each phase?

Šimon: The work has three phases: 1. Research & Fact-finding – to analyse the existing literature on online self-exclusion and collect current requirements in selected jurisdictions; 2. Workgroup meetings – to find agreement among the group of 10 different stakeholders with diverse experience and expertise through a series of physical and remote meetings; 3. Broader consultation – collect feedback on the workgroup’s findings from other industry stakeholders to ensure the inclusivity of the results and reflect collective knowledge.

We are currently in the last phase and are seeking responses from other stakeholders in the industry. It is a crucial part of the project as it will ensure that final results will represent the voice of the broader community and provide the best results for any organization to protect its players. You can submit your feedback here.

TheGamblest: In your opinion, what are the critical components that should be included in the international self-exclusion standards to ensure they are effective and universally applicable?

Šimon: The current recommendations have many strong points that bring positive results, but I do not want to go into too much detail here. However, I will bring up the panic button, which provides an immediate stop to gambling access. It is basically a short self-exclusion that acts immediately and lasts 24 or 48 hours. As opposed to regular self-exclusion, the player is not committing to a long period without access to gambling and doesn’t need to wait until the request takes effect. Research has shown that breaks enhance spending control, and the panic button is a great tool to reclaim it.

TheGamblest: How do you see emerging technologies influencing the future of self-exclusion practices? Are there any specific technological advancements that you believe should be integrated into these standards?

Šimon: Due to current trends in player verification, online self-exclusion is an imperfect concept. Most players get full verification at the point of withdrawal, creating space for false negatives. The ground-breaking technology for self-exclusion would be digital ID based on some of the technologies that can encrypt personal details and give each player a unique identification that could be matched instantly with 100% reliability. There is only one problem: Players must appreciate and use it. An EU-wide regulation is coming up that will require the availability of such IDs at EU merchants, but consumers will still be able to choose. The risk is that players will choose the option where they are not that directly tracked. However, this is a consumer behavioural matter where the most convenient journey wins. Although there is a risk, I also see a big potential as verification with digital ID will be seamless.

TheGamblest: What do you think Šimon, what are the most significant barriers users face when attempting to use self-exclusion tools, and how can these barriers be addressed to improve accessibility and usability?

Šimon: Self-exclusion belongs to the category of responsible gambling tools that are highly stigmatized in some areas. Going through the process labels the player and often burdens them with a feeling of shame. The issue is more comprehensive and can apply to the whole consideration of one’s gambling habits and potential harm. Some jurisdictions are taking active steps to portray self-exclusion as something less negative. Another barrier is the fact that self-exclusion is being widely used for reasons other than gambling-related harm. Both players and operators know that. The former learned to use self-exclusion as a reason to get free spins, and the latter is never sure if there is really some harm going on. That complicates the effectiveness of these measures.

TheGamblest: What strategies or incentives do you think would be most effective in encouraging industry-wide adoption and compliance with the new self-exclusion standards?

Šimon: The aim of our work is not to set a stone-carved set of rules but rather to recommend a set of standards that emerged as part of a comprehensive process that connected research, detailed consideration by a diverse group of professionals, and broader feedback from industry stakeholders. We want to open the discussion, provide inspiration and offer something that was not here before to improve and ideally align one of the most widespread responsible gambling tools out there. But to answer your question, I believe the best strategy is to show the value it can provide to operators, regulators and, ultimately, players. The data from our player complaints shows that ineffective implementation of self-exclusion can cause a lot of trouble on both sides.

TheGamblest: Looking ahead, what is your vision for the future of self-exclusion in the iGaming industry, and what key steps do you believe are necessary to achieve this vision on an international scale?

Šimon: Self-exclusion is not a single solution for gambling-related harm for multiple reasons. However, it has the potential to provide a safer space with more control and better well-being for players. One thing is improving the process and management of a single self-exclusion scheme, and the other is scaling the reach of such a scheme. We are trying to improve both within the Initiative, but as we learned, a cross-jurisdiction self-exclusion system is a tough nut to crack. iGaming world would be a much safer place if players could self-exclude from all available gambling opportunities at the single point of registration.

Most importantly, we need to get self-exclusion back where it belongs—as a tool for avoiding gambling-related harm. Secondly, we need to figure out how to prevent the possibility of gambling online across jurisdictions, which seems almost impossible. Or we need a system covering at least those offshore (.com) jurisdictions, which is more likely but equally difficult. That leaves me with persistence and focus on the next reachable goal. Bringing positive change one step at a time and working with the flow of the online gambling market development is a realistic strategy.

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