Partner blog: Guardians of the gamblers

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In this article, we investigate how FriendlyScore can help betting companies safeguard their customers from gambling-related harm during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Industries across every sector of the economy are feeling the effects of COVID-19, and gaming is no exception. Betting shops on the high street are closed and popular sports such as Premier League football are on extended hiatus. As the live events component of the industry stalls and people spend more time at home, concerns are being raised by government figures and campaigners about the use of other gaming channels such as online casinos.

A recent report by the UK Gambling Commission sheds some light on the validity of these concerns. According to their research, whilst the pandemic has signalled an overall drop in the number of people gambling, certain subsets of gamers have begun turning to products such as online casino, poker and virtual betting to scratch their betting itch. Furthermore, some are spending more time and money than usual while doing so.

With the effects of COVID-19 undermining both financial security and mental health, consumers who may be at particular risk of gambling-related harm need to be quickly identified and sufficiently protected. Of course, gaming companies have best practice frameworks in place to safeguard vulnerable individuals, but the effectiveness of such measures depend largely on the quality of information being gathered. Gaming data by its very nature offers only a very limited glimpse into a customer’s overall financial well-being.

A richer source of information is personal financial data, and in the era of open banking individuals are free to share such data with whichever authorised third party provider they choose. FriendlyScore, an FCA-licensed open banking provider and analytical software house, is now working with gaming companies to leverage this data and turn the identification of vulnerable customers into an exact science.

7 ways in which FriendlyScore can help gaming firms address customer vulnerability:

1. Contextualise gambling activity

Increases in gambling spends can be a reason for concern, but a customer may still be betting well within their means. Viewing gambling activity in the context of an individual’s broader financial situation gives a more well-rounded view of any potential vulnerability.

2. Evaluate existing commitments

FriendlyScore is able to extract metrics such as existing debt, loan repayments and rent/mortgage obligations from open banking data. Such data points are crucial in determining the extent to which an individual may be at risk of financial harm.

3. View gambling activity across multiple providers

One of the primary benefits of FriendlyScore’s solution is its ability to gather transaction data relating to every gaming company that an individual uses, and therefore provide a view of total betting activity.

4. Identify red flags

Rejected direct debits, missed credit card payments, and income shocks such as job loss are among the distinctive indicators of financial vulnerability FriendlyScore can extract from open banking data.

5. Spot problematic trends

Whilst red flags represent overt indicators of risk, some markers are more subtle. FriendlyScore’s historical trend analysis enables identification of slow debt spirals, gradual increases in total betting activity over time, and other problematic trends.

6. Accurately model affordability

Using deep learning algorithms, FriendlyScore models the near-term probability of an individual running out of money. This early view of customer liquidity gives gaming firms a grace period in which to enact any appropriate safeguarding strategies.

7. Empower gamers to take control of their betting activity

FriendlyScore provides a software toolkit which gaming firms can use to quickly integrate a white-label personal finance management app into their existing platform. This tool incentivises continued data sharing and allows gamers to track useful metrics such as total betting activity as a percentage of disposable income.

FriendlyScore is an analytical software house working with gaming companies to help protect the financial health of their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. To find out more, get in touch with us today at www.friendlyscore.com.