In the second part of our interview with Holland Casino's director of security and responsible gaming Janny Wierda, she discusses the four pillars of its RG strategy soon to be transferred online with Playtech, why all staff need to be trained in consumer-facing interventions and the data-related challenges around industry collaboration. Read part 1 here
Currently the land-based responsible gaming strategy has four pillars, Wierda says: “Identification, registration, warning interviews, then monitoring and intervention. All those things we will have to do online as well.”
This can all be transferred online, she says, where the operator will work with Playtech, after striking a deal in 2014.
“Registration and identification will be the same, and also links to our anti-money laundering (AML) requirements,” Weirda explains.
She has no fear about the move online, arguing that it will in many ways make her job simpler: “It’s actually easier to implement responsible gaming controls online, as we can use pop ups with warnings, letting them know how long they’ve been playing for, and how much they’ve spent.
“So it’s easier to monitor players online, as offline, on a Saturday evening for example, we have more than 1,000 visitors in Amsterdam. We keep an eye on everyone, but online we [will] know exactly what everyone is doing. Even when it’s more busy.”
Even elements such as customer registration across all channels are not a big stretch – it’s already in place.
“We have to [do that already] because we need it for AML processes, but we also need it for responsible gaming,” Wierda says. “If you want to have a good responsible gaming policy you need to know who’s playing.
“One of the metrics we track is how many times a customer visits a casino, so you need to have them register, as otherwise you won’t know.”
This allows Holland Casino to implement particularly stringent player protection measures.
For example, if a young adult visits its casinos four times in a month, they will be sent a responsible gaming leaflet. Six times, and they will be contacted by Wierda’s team to ensure they know what they’re playing, and their parents are aware how they’re spending their leisure time and money.
“[Without] registration you just can’t do this,” she says.
This is all carried out by a team under Wierda’s leadership, which works in shifts to ensure at least two members of staff are on duty when the operator’s 14 casinos are open. While she says this team is small, there are more than 150 employees in total responsible for implementing the operator’s responsible gaming strategy.
General management staff are trained, meaning that if Wierda’s team members aren’t available, there are employees qualified to carry out interventions. This way there is always someone available to carry out responsible gaming duties.
“Every employee has do complete an eLearning course, including the people from the head office,” she says. “Even though they don’t have contact with the clients they have to do the training.
“Responsible gaming is our most important value, so the management have to do a full day’s training, then spend two days learning how to do the customer interviews, and identify signs of problem gambling.”
While responsible gaming has and always will be a key part of the business, Wierda is doubtful that affordability checks, an emerging concept, are likely to be widely introduced. In the UK, these are being talked up as a way enhance to Know Your Customer processes, to ensure customers can afford to gamble.
“As a government and as a company you can’t tell people how to spend their money,” Wierda says, however. “If you want to eat at a very expensive restaurant every evening you can do it, if you want to gamble, of course you must do so responsibly – we don’t want anyone to be addicted – but it’s the individuals’ choice.
“For some people if it’s only their pension they have to play with, for example, we will of course warn them.”
But as she points out, player protection failings have not affected Holland Casino to date: “Our internal policies are more restrictive than the law currently is.”
Where she sees room for improvement is around industry collaboration. But, she adds, the external pressures such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation could derail these efforts. To better collaborate on social responsibility matters, she explains, the industry needs to be able to share customer data. Because of GDPR, it can’t do so.
“Banks are now exchanging information of people on a blacklist, but there’s an issue over what we do with data gathered through AML checks,” she says. “We exclude 100 people a year because of AML controls, but with GDPR what can we do with this information? We need to find a way to exchange information.”
Having said that, Wierda is confident that despite these challenges, Holland Casino will be able to avoid the issues experienced in other recently regulated markets.
“I know people are going to gamble, but I think through responsible gaming and AML controls, you can protect them to a high extent,” she says. “There are always going to be some that slip under the radar but I think in general, we do it in the safest possible way – that’s ultimately why I wanted to work for Holland Casino.”