Kindred: Using research to establish best practice

Identifying correct and reliable markers of harm is critical to limiting harmful gambling and any research into establishing best practice is in the interest of the entire industry and beyond. While work is ongoing to build a CEN standard for markers of harm, Kindred has for several years been working with leading researchers to develop an approach that can accurately identify harmful gambling.

In 2021, Maris Catania and Professor Mark Griffiths published a peer-reviewed research paper in the Journal of Gambling Studies. Maris is Head of Responsible Gaming and Research at Kindred Group, while Prof. Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. Their paper looks at how markers of problem gambling can be identified online through behavioural tracking. Reliable markers of harm are critical to limiting harmful gambling – we must be able to identify the behaviour so that we can act. Most responsible online gambling operators have been trying to identify problem gamblers by tracking their account-based data. However, there is currently no agreed definition of markers of harm and the approach to identify markers of harm varies across operators.

Having reliable markers of harm is essential as through the identification of these markers, the operators can identify and then in turn act on reducing the potential gambling harm. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the handbook used by health care professionals across the world as a standard classification of mental disorders. In the study, each DSM-5 criterion for gambling disorder is translated into an online marker of harm. The study looked to operationalise the nine criteria using actual gambling behaviour rather than the consequences of it. The study found that most of the DSM-5 criteria for gambling disorder can be operationalised this way. This is the first study that examines the application of the DSM-5 criteria of gambling disorder to actual gambling behaviour using online gambling transaction data, and it suggests ways that operators can identify problem gamblers online through the analysis of secondary data which is objective and not based solely on self-reporting.

This ideology and the markers of harm identified were the basis for the development of a new version of Kindred’s in-house monitoring system Player Safety Early Detection System (PSEDS) at the beginning of 2021.

Key take-aways

This study highlights how important it is that we work collaboratively with different stakeholders such as research, community, and operators. The identification of these online markers of harm came from different discussions with experts by experience, treatment centres, and regulators. Kindred engages with these different stakeholders regularly. It shows how markers of harm can be identified to intervene with gamblers before things escalate. The fact that this is peer-reviewed and published not only encourages transparency but also validates the methodology. The paper provides different examples of how many of these markers of harm can be operationalised for use by online gambling operators to help identify problematic gambling and our hope is that the findings and markers of harm will be used by other operators in their consumer protection efforts.

The next step for Kindred is to learn more about what the best interventions are, so that we can further support customers from developing a harmful gambling behaviour.

More information:

* This article features in EGBA’s recently published annual Sustainability Report 2021/22.

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