Identifying and Safeguarding Vulnerable Customers

Helping gambling operators do the right thing by identifying and safeguarding vulnerable customers- while protecting business simultaneously.

Customer Vulnerability

When we talk of vulnerable customers, we refer to those who, due to their personal circumstances, are susceptible to harm.

In the gambling industry, there is already a clear need for customer support, especially in the case of problem gamblers. Gambling consumers rely on regulation to protect them, including operators who may not always act in the consumers’ best interest.

According to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, there are an estimated 395,000 problem gamblers in the UK, with a further 1.8 million people at risk. The effects can have devastating consequences on people and their families, including financial loss, relationship breakdowns, criminality, and even suicide.

At Rdentify, customer wellbeing is something that we take seriously, and we’re doing everything possible to make it easier for gambling operators to identify and protect those at risk. In the wake of the pandemic, more consumers are finding themselves in vulnerable circumstances, with 53% of adults displaying a characteristic of vulnerability. This is an increase of over 3 million since February of last year.

Collectively, gambling firms need to ensure that enough is being done to futureproof our industry. And this means compliance with regulatory obligations regarding the fair treatment of vulnerable customers.

Regulatory Obligations

After so many years in the industry, we understand that detecting vulnerable customers can be difficult, particularly when it comes to online gambling.

In our fast-paced digital world, indicators of problem gambling can be sporadic and spread across multiple chats and agents. This results in vulnerable customers slipping through the net- which leaves both the consumer and operator at risk.

The Gambling Commission, along with The Financial Conduct Authority, sets out clear regulatory requirements and guidance for gambling operators to abide by when it comes to customer welfare. Legislation such as the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 must play a key role in protecting consumers, but many operators are failing to comply with the legal practices expected of them.

As such, Jeremy Wright MP- the Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport- has issued a stark warning to gambling firms who fail to meet regulatory obligations:

“Any online operator that thinks it can ignore its duty to protect players should take note… there will be consequences. Protecting vulnerable consumers is our prime concern, and it must be the priority for gambling operators too.”

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Enforcement Action

Gambling operators that fail to adhere to social responsibility practices can, and will, be subject to enforcement action. Firms can face heavy financial penalties, suffer reputational damage, and in extreme cases, have licences revoked.

In 2017, 888, one of Britain’s biggest online gambling firms, was issued with a record penalty package of over £7.8million as a result of serious failings in its handling of vulnerable customers. This was actioned after significant flaws in 888 UK Limited’s social responsibility processes came to light.

It’s an unfortunate trend within the gambling industry. In the past two years alone, the Gambling Commission has issued 28 counts of enforcement action to operators after they failed to protect vulnerable consumers from further harm.

This simply isn’t good enough.

If the industry is to become more proactive in protecting its customers, it needs to radically improve the data and insight it collects to know what is going wrong for vulnerable consumers. Operators should also develop better information on its own performance to determine whether it is acting appropriately, and set up clear internal processes to protect problem gamblers from further harm.

So how can the industry prioritise customer wellbeing and comply with regulations while maintaining commercial success?

Resolution

The answer is Rdentify; smart, seamless NLP technology that has the ability to identify and protect vulnerable consumers.

Our sophisticated platform uses innovative machine learning and linguistics research to detect behavioural patterns associated with vulnerable consumers in real time. This allows you to improve your internal processes, mitigate regulatory risk, and demonstrates your commitment to customer wellbeing to regulators and consumers alike.

Rdentify also allows firms to identify vulnerable people looking for quick cash to prevent them from making fake claims online. For at-risk clients, especially those who are struggling with self-exclusion, we offer automated customer journeys that ensure vulnerable gamblers are referred to the appropriate support channels. This means that customers spending or taking on debt that they can’t afford can then be identified, monitored, and protected.

We have the power to make the gambling industry safer. As online gambling becomes more commonplace than ever, we all have a responsibility to protect vulnerable consumers, reduce criminality, and ensure safe game play for all involved.

If you’d like to equip yourself with smart technology to protect your business and customers, you can book a free demo here.

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