IS AI THE ANSWER
GAMING + ARTICLES + BUSINESS+ GLOBAL + ONLINE + NEWS+ AWARDS + etc InfinityGaming www.gaming-awards.com | ISSUE144
FLUTTERS JANE PALLES EXCLUSIVE
2023 WIG FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
The views and opinions expressed in all external articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Infinity Gaming Magazine Any content provided by our feature writers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
A GOOD REPUTATION 2 INFINITY GAMING
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SPORTS BETTING - 5 YEARS ON
4 EDITOR NOTES
Editor welcomes you to the latest edition of Infinity Gaming Magazine.
6 OUR WRITERS
Meet our feature writers, the superb writers on our rosta.
18 ECLUSIVE INTERVIEW
26 IS AI THE ANSWER?
32 SPORTS BETTING
53 EV AND GREEN ISSUES
IS AI THE ANSWER?
Lynn Pearce + NEWS & MORE NEWS from the gaming industry
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A note from the editor
LET THE AWARDS BEGIN
The Latest Edition of the Infinity Gaming Magazine
Welcome to the latest edition of the Infinity Gaming Magazine and congratulations to all the finalists of the 2023 annual charity focused Women in Gaming (WIG) & Diversity Awards which takes place on the 8th June at the stunning Savoy Hotel.
It was an amazing amount of nominations this year with more companies taking part than ever before, so well done to all the finalists just getting this far is a real achievement. Now all that is needed is book your places and celebrate with the rest of the industry, and you really should as we will be sold out well before the evening ceremony.
Of course as ever a huge thank you goes to our sponsors who believe in what the WIG Diversity is all about so thank you Digitain, Playtech, Light & Wonder, IGT,
Gamomat, Betsson Group, The10Best Companies and Pilot Games.
The evening itself will be a celebration of diversity and inclusion along with a leading speaker offering inspiration and innovative approach to success. In the daytime I will be speaking and attending the Betsson Diversity & Inclusion Conference, we at Clever Duck Media wholly support this free to attend event and well done to Betsson for hosting and organising.
Now on to the magazine and what a bumper edition we have for you, firstly we have some brilliant articles from Christina Thakor-Rankin and Lynn Pearce, along with brilliant articles on the long awaited but now delivered White Paper, AI and the future for the industry and a review of how Sports Betting has exploded in the US over the last 5 years.
Last but not least we speak exclusively to Jane Palles the Head of Flutters Safer Gambling Strategy, it truly is a must read.
Enjoy the magazine it will keep you busy for a long time and hope to see you at the WIG Diversity Awards and the Betsson Diversity & Inclusion Conference.
“To Infinity and Beyond!”
Regards, Lana The Editor in-Chief
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CONTACT US Clever Duck Media Centrix@Keys Keys Park Road Staffordshire WS12 2HA UK Tel: +44(0)1543 478 889 PRODUCTION Clever Duck Media Centrix@Keys Keys Park Road Staffordshire WS12 2HA UK PUBLISHING Infinity Gaming Magazine is operated by © Clever Duck Media Ltd ® Company Reg. No. 687 1018 (Registered in England) V.A.T reg. no 972 6372 91 Sponsorship Opportunities Colin@cleverduckmedia.com Business Partnerships Svetlana@gaming-awards.com Marketing & Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Content & PR email@example.com
Lana Thompson - Editor
Infinity Gaming Magazine Contributing Writers
A magazine is only as good as the content inside and with some of the leading specialists within the gaming industry. With specialised articles covering customer service, the gaming law, new products, technology and current affairs with the sector the Infinity Gaming Magazine is delighted to showcase our superb line-up of contributing
Christina is Principal Consultant at 1710 Gaming Ltd, a specialist betting and gaming consultancy, delivering a range of services including licensing and compliance (incl. regulation, money laundering and social responsibility), business start-up, training and strategic re-engineering, project management, research, business analysis and development, to start-ups and
Andrew Cosgrove - Slots Guru
Andrew Cosgrove is a seasoned slot operations veteran and certified project manager with over 24 years of hands on experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. Andrew has worked on both the operator and supplier side of casino slots and continues to help clients succeed and exceed customer expectations.
Lynn is an accomplished CMO with over 15+ years of experience in the igaming industry. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated expertise in strategic planning, creative direction, branding, procurement, resource allocation, and staff mentoring. With her deep understanding of the industry and consumer preferences, she has created content strategies that attract, engage, and retain customers.
Lynn’s ability to negotiate, manage, and maintain suc-
From dealer to CEO in the U.K., Europe and North America, Tim has pretty much seen it all in Casino gaming. For over 40 years, from running slot rooms which needed to frisk for guns to the Ritz in Mayfair, arguably the most luxurious casino in the world, Tim has never stopped challenging what we think we know
general manager and CEO
established multi-national operators and providers, gambling regulators, law enforcement and government agencies, media, and specialist interest groups and associations within the sector, in both established and emerging markets across the world.
Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com/
cessful partnerships has helped her create lasting relationships that drive revenue and create value for all parties. She has a keen focus on maximizing revenue potential while effectively managing expenses and consistently driving top-line growth for the companies she has worked for.
Lynn’s data-driven strategies and her talent for leading her teams in executing these strategies have created value for both customers and stakeholders alike.
Tim is a well-respected Consultant to the gaming industry, encompassing project management and operational analysis, as well as representing and advising some key manufacturers within the industry. Tim is a
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A WORLD OF WONDER.
2023 Women Diversity & Inclusion
B2B Excellence Award (Companies) B2B Excellence Award
SOFTSWISS Marketing Team
Bally’s Interactive – GLoW Network
Bally’s Interactive – Parents Network
Bally’s Interactive – Pride Network
Cecelia Harrington – Playtech
Clemnece Dujardin – Myaffiliates
Inna Kaminska – Playtech
Katarina Hudecova – Entain
Lucinda Apostolou – Playtech
Noemi Nemeth – Playtech
Sasha Uman – Playtech
Just For The Win
Women in Gaming Inclusion Awards Finalists
Best Diverse Place To Work
GAMOMAT Development GmbH
Just For The Win
of the Year
D&I Wellness Initiative Award
Flutter Entertainment PLC
2023 Women Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity and Inclusion
Aspire Global Betsson Group
Design Works Gaming
Employee of the Year – Operator
Andrea David – Metropolitan Gaming
Graciella Anthony – Entain
Rebecca Herd – LiveScore Group
Sandra Vask – Yolo
Diverse and Inclusive
Light & Wonder Wazdan
Employee of the
Alexandra Cordell – L&W
Christine Parkhill – Push
Fabienne Bourgaize – Eyecon
Hamest Safaryan – Digitain
Jo Bentley – Playtech
Jovana Popovic Canaki –
Katherine Dowling- Playtech
Liina Pruulmann – Playtech
Stephanie Quiles – IGT
Yumiko Lundh – Quickspin
Women in Gaming Inclusion Awards Finalists
Employee Network of the Year
Bally’s Interactive – GLoW Network
Bally’s Interactive – Parents Network
Bally’s Interactive – Pride Network
the Year – Supplier
L&W Push Gaming
– Aspire Global
Employee Wellbeing Award
Agnes Saaren – Yolo
Betsson Group Design Works Gaming
Gwen Wilkie – L&W
Shelley Moore – Metropolitan Gaming
2023 Women Diversity & Inclusion
Excellence in Customer Service – Operator
Beatrice Pace – Casumo
Cristina Rahuoja – Yolo
Danielle Robertson – LiveScore Group
Ele Kohv – Yolo
Latam Team – Bally’s
Excellence in Customer
Elaine Newton – Playtech
Margo Redko – Gamzix
Mary Taing – L&W
Trisha Parker – L&W
Wazdan Account Management
Industry Achiever – Operator
Alexe Reichert – 888Holdings
Claire Archer – Bally’s Interactive
Nicola Newman – Bally’s Interactive
Tracy Damestani – Ambassadeurs Group
Anastasia Borovaya – SOFTSWISS
Christine Lewis – Lion Gaming
Fiona Hickey – Push Gaming
Jody Rempel – ArdentSky
Johanna Pettersson – Just
Ramya Pulipati- IGT
Shelley Hannah – Relax Gaming
Siobhan Lane – L&W
Women in Gaming Inclusion Awards Finalists
Customer Service – Supplier
Achiever – Supplier
Just For The Win
Podhorska-Okolow – L&W
HR Champion Award
Angela Sammut – Greentube
Anna Alexson – Quickspin
Christine Hili – Rootz
Gemma Duncan – Bally’s Interactive
Katie Byers – L&W
Leila Goelz – Games Global
Margaret Proven – Pollard Banknote
Piret Ploom – Yolo
Sue Dawson – LiveScore Group
Zoe Darla – OpenBet Innovator
Aliaksandra Hancharova – SOFTSWISS
Design Works Gaming
Lida Kosohova – Gamzix
Olga Glebiv Evoplay
Olga Ivanchik – SOFTSWISS
2023 Women Diversity & Inclusion
Inspiration of the Year – Operator Inspiration of the
Audrey Dunn – Metropolitan Gaming
Christine Chou – Bally’s Interactive
Emma Lee – Tombola
Jacqueline Neo – Yolo
Kate Parker – LiveScore
Lena Nordin – Betsson
Lorena Puentes – Bally’s Interactive
Lynne Stevens – Metropolitan Gaming
Megan Horsham – Bally’s Interactive
Natalija Bezubova – Entain
Leader of the Year - Supplier
Armine Sirunyan – Digitain
Denisa Delareve – Push Gaming
Dr Alexandra Krone – Gamomat
Julie Allison – Games Global
Marina Ostrovtsova – BGaming
Roxane Scicluna – Greentube
Sandra Dmitrijeva – Playtech
Sue Dawson – L&W
Tatyana Kaminskaya – SOFTSWISS
Angela van den Berg – Games
Aregnaz Hakobyan – Digitain
Connie James – L&W
Elena Rousseva – Playtech
Hamest Safaryan – Digitain
Linn Lange – Quickspin
Magdalena Wojdyła – Wazdan
Sabine Müller – Gamomat
Stefania Colombo – IGT
Tina Luchyn – OpenBet
Evoplay – Football Pack paign
Women in Gaming Inclusion Awards Finalists
the Year – Supplier
Games Global Digitain
Campaign of the Year
Leader of the Year - Operator
Alona Orehova – SkyBetting
Amy Howe – FanDuel
Bruna Pereira – Bally’s Interactive
Laura Craddock – Buzz Bingo
Lena Nordin – Betsson
Rani Wynn – LiveScore Group
Positive Role Model of the Year – Operator
Alexe Reichert – William Hill
Kat McGurk – Flutter Entertainment
Lena Nordin – Betsson
Miranda Granlund – Bally’s Interactive
Pallavi Madishetty – Entain
Rani Wynn – LiveScore Group
2023 Women Diversity & Inclusion
Positive Role Model of the Year – Supplier Star of the Future
Ash Hagen – Quickspin
Barbara Batari – Just For The Win
Dana Jackel – L&W
Ericka Mazer – L&W
Kimberley Broad – Games Global
Nat Brewer – Push Gaming
Olha Ihnatiuk – Quickspin
Undral Ganbold – Mkodo
The Outstanding Mentor Award
Carla Souter – Bettingjobs
Cherry Lou Morcilla – Bally’s Interactive
Hillory McDaniel – Design Works
Izabela Słodkowska-Popiel – Wazdan
Jon Michael Seddon – 888 William Hill
Kajal Verma – Push Gaming
Nicola Newman – Bally’s Interactive
Maria Loumpourdi – Betsson
Vladimir Malakchi – Evoplay
Elizabith Crutchfield – Entain
Erika Montebello – Betsson
Esther Lau – William Hill
Jill Bergforth – William Hill
Krisseliine Pärt – Yolo
Manon Chabrand – Bally’s
Natalie Manning – LiveScore
Rugile Svadzge – Metropolitan Tyanah Graham – Bally’s
Alexandra Domingo – Bally’s
Alice Timson – Realistic Games
Anastasiia Poliakova – Casumo
Danielle Catalan – Blank
Darya Avtukhovich – SOFTSWISS
Ellen Kerbey – SITA
Ezgi Erturk- Pragmatic Play
Lida Kosohova – Gamzix
Marina Marinova – UltraPlay
Sophie Jones – Metropolitan
Women in Gaming Inclusion Awards Finalists
Future - Operator
Leader of the Year
Bally’s Interactive Games
Star of the Future - Supplier
Agustina Lopez – Quickspin
Bernie Fedigan – Pragmatic Play
Cosmina Nicolae – Playtech
Elitsa Nicholson – L&W
Iryna Matvieieva – Quckspin
Laura Main – Sportingtech
Nora Österlund – Mobinc
Runa Desai – OpenBet
Interview with Jane Palles
Head of Flutter Safer Gambling Strategy
Jane many thanks for talking to the Infinity Gaming Magazine, firstly for our global readers can you explain your role with Flutter Entertainment?
My role sits within the central sustainability team so I’m deeply involved in the development of our Positive Impact Plan of which safer gambling or ‘Play Well’ as it’s known in Flutter is a core component. Idevelop and continually evolve the Flutter global safer gambling strategy, “Play Well”. By engaging and consulting with key internal and external stakeholders, I ensure our businesses have access to lessons learnt, innovations and developments that keep our strategy at the forefront of our business as well as contributing to wider thinking around safer gambling in the industry.
Being head of safer gambling at a huge company like Flutter must bring great challenges in terms of your role?
Who doesn’t love a challenge! The scale of our business and breath of our offering means we have lots of cultural and jurisdictional nuances that we must consider when developing a global strategy. When dealing with such a diverse breadth of businesses across so
many markets and cultures we have a unique opportunity to take on learnings and apply them elsewhere. We believe in playing to our strengths – the brands within Flutter know and are trusted by their customers best. That makes them best placed to shape their own localised safer gambling strategies that speak directly to the customer in their unique tone of voice providing a positive, safe and entertaining experience. The Play Well framework adds value through the structure and scale of the Flutter family which helps us to share best practice, map progress, and hold ourselves to account.
Originally you worked in customer support for the company, do you think that gave you a background into safer gambling?
II enjoyed 10 years in customer experience running contact centers, representing the customer and shaping how safer gambling operates on the front line. It is a really interesting environment to work in and offered a lot of opportunities to develop my knowledge and experience. You must excel at dealing with complex issues and have strong active listening skills not to mention empathy. I’ve always been passionate about supporting our customers and ensuring they have
the best experiences with us which really helped. This along with my interest in psychology and neuroscience meant I naturally leaned into safer gambling practices. I spent a lot of time ensuring our teams and colleagues were diligently trained to discuss all topics related to safer gambling and were supported to make sure they were able to respond to the unique needs of each customer. I think it goes without saying that Play Well was developed with this in mind. It has a lens on education, support and transparency and our customer experience teams have a huge role to play in that.
You have been involved in safer gambling since 2013, is it something that has interested you, especially the challenges the role brings?
It’s actually been a bit longer than that, technically I’ve been involved in safer gambling since I joined Paddy Power back in 2001! This is a really good example of how seriously we take it. Safer gambling was at the core of our training back then and it remains that way for every employee today. But anyone who knows me will tell you how passionate I am about our business and my job. I have always and will continue to cham-
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pion our customer and what’s right. I take huge pride in what Flutter has built to protect our customers and the opportunities we have to leverage our scale to do more. More importantly, I am proud of how we’ve maintained our values as a business and kept customer protection front and center of our strategy.
In a normal day in your position what does your role entail, I am sure that many readers would like to know what your role involves.
No one day is the same so this is a hard question to answer! I spend a lot of my time talking to the brands and divisions, understanding their priorities, challenges, and opportunities. Bringing them together to share best practice and collaborate on new opportunities to innovate and drive progress. It’s also really important that our people are aware of the amazing work of all the brands, so I spend a lot of time supporting effective communications that help keep colleagues and other stakeholders updated with the latest developments and progress being made. I also
network and maintain strong working relationships with industry peers, academics, 3rd party technology providers and research foundations to ensure we are sharing and using the lessons learnt to continuously improve our customer experiences. Not to mention a lot of research and reading and of course strategic planning. It’s a busy schedule filled with variety and change but that’s what makes it so interesting. Oh, and occasionally I also have time for a cup of coffee before settling down to family time with my young family!
How important now in your opinion is safer gambling not just for Flutter but for gambling operators overall?
I don’t think I’m understating to say it’s absolutely imperative. For the sustainability of our business and the industry as a whole, it is essential our customers can enjoy and have a positive experience. We want them to play well. If we are to succeed long term and maintain our social license, safer gambling must remain front and centre of our business
strategies. Whilst our peers might express it differently, the essence of the message is the same – the customer, their enjoyment and their safety always comes first. It’s a commercial and social imperative. This has never been truer than it is today when customers choose their brands based on more than just a fun five minutes. They choose based on how they feel gambling with us, are they understood, are they safe, do they trust us, and of course, are they having the very best experience using our products. If you can answer yes to all the above, then I believe you have a customer for life.
Specifically in the UK do you think the regulations for safer gambling are sufficient or they go too far?
We recently welcomed the publication of the UK Government’s Gambling Act Review, which we see as a significant positive moment for the UK gambling sector, raising standards and bringing the regulatory framework into the digital age.
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We believe proactive change will lead to a better future for our industry and have proactively introduced industryleading safer gambling controls and initiatives via our ‘Play Well’ strategy:
• Over the past two years we have directly invested over £60m across the UK&I to support, promote and educate safer play
• We have led the way when it comes to the protection of younger customers through the successful roll out in 2022 of £500 monthly deposit limits for UK customers under 25 (Part of our triple step programme)
• We reduced online slot staking limits to £10
With Flutter Entertainment does the company do more than other companies in terms of safer gambling and could you elaborate on them for our readers?
Flutter has a long track record of developing industry leading safer gambling initiatives across key markets, and dur-
ing 2022 directly invested over £60m in safer gambling initiatives across the Group and saw over 40% of global Average Monthly Players using our Play Well safer gambling tools.
o In 2022, Sky Betting & Gaming, Paddy Power and Betfair were awarded the Gold Advanced Level 3 standard by GamCare Safer Gambling Standard for their progressive approach and continuous focus on safer gambling
o We successfully implemented £500 / €500 deposit limits for U25s in the UK and Ireland, a proactive measure that enhances the play environment for our youngercustomers by providing extra support and helping to educate and empower them to build positive behaviours
o First major operator to offer Gamban software that blocks sites for vulnerable customers
o Has over 100 full-time Compliance and RG professionals developing our AIdriven models, conducting campaigns and other initiatives to protect customers
o Joined other operators to establish the first industry-led responsible gaming standards
o Held its first Play Well Day, a day focused on our shared commitment to Responsible Gaming and its critical importance to the sustainability of our company - commitment kicked off with a renewed partnership with boxer champion Amanda Serrano, who joins Craig Carton as a responsible gaming ambassador
o Continues to invest heavily in player protection and are pleased to have seen an increase of over 10% in customers utilising at least one of our Play Well tools during 2022
o Provided significant independent research funding to the Responsible
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Jane Palles Exclusive Interview
Gambling Council in Canada (“RGC”) to support first-of-its-kind baseline research to inform global marketing and advertising standards in gambling for operators and regulators
o Continued to scale up its Real Time Intervention (“RTI”) capability - a worldfirst and market leading safer gambling tool that uses sophisticated artificial intelligence technology to trigger safer gambling interventions in real-time before a deposit occurs
o Proactively engaged with governments at both a national and state level on consumer protection policy, with a focus on reforms to safer gambling messaging, staff training and the introduction of a national self-exclusion register. Implementation of these measures continues in 2023
o Led the “Having a bet? Have a game plan” TVC campaign through RWA (an independent body for Australian licensed wagering service providers). These messages reached an audience of 2.5 million during the campaign
You have worked for Paddy Power Betfair for in total over 18 years which is an amazing length of time to stay with one company, you never been tempted to move?
Of course, I’ve had times where I’ve considered it or been approached for other roles. I’ve had 20+ great years with Flutter; working in multiple roles and brands. I’ve always been inspired and encouraged by mentors to progress internally and no two roles I’ve ever done have been the same. It’s honestly a tough act to follow. Given the global scale and growth rate of Flutter, the diversity of brands and the volume of opportunities that exist here, moving elsewhere feels unnecessary for the time being. Plus, I have amazing colleagues! Anyone who’s ever worked for Flutter will always say
they’ve made friends for life. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with intelligent, funny and inspiring people.
How has the company changed in the years you started, can you still recognize the business given the scale the company is now?
It’s substantially different today in terms of scale, we’ve grown hugely. But what’s really interesting is that the values have managed to remain intact, so we haven’t lost the unique culture of each individual brand. I think this is why we’ve been able to continuously lead the industry, our principle-based approach allows for local strategies to remain intact. I also love that we promote curiosity and innovation, it has a real start up vibe where everyone is in it together, one common goal with lots
of diversity of thought driving us forward. Every office you visit has a warm welcome and a real sense of pride for their culture which I love. The only real change is that we now leverage our Flutter Edge, our global scale, and the incredible knowledge housed by each brand to advance all of our businesses and the industry as a whole.
Flutter of course has operations in the US primarily with FanDuel, do you have any work involving the US market with safer gambling and if so what are the differences compared to the UK?
My Fanduel colleagues are members of our internal Play Well working group who meet on a regular basis, which feeds into our Safer Gambling committee. As with all our brands, FanDuel is in
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a unique position in utilizing the scale and experience of the Flutter Family’s global business to build their Play Well strategy. They are leading the US industry in safer gambling and we’re proud of the significant investments we’re making in new programmes, partnerships and marketing campaigns. I outlined some earlier but worth emphasizing their hugely successful safer gambling content and advertising campaign during 2022 with the support of our two US Play Well brand ambassadors. We’ve also made significant donations to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) to further support the NCPG’s Agility Grants programme, in partnership with the NFL Foundation.
We’ve also created a culture of pride and ownership of Play Well for every team and colleague with part of all colleagues bonus tied to safer gambling targets.
How do you see the future for safer gambling in the UK, do you think it will get tougher with more regulation and demands on the business?
As mentioned, we recently welcomed the publication of the UK Government’s Gambling Act Review, which we see as a significant positive moment for the UK gambling sector, raising standards and bringing the regulatory framework into the digital age.
We’ve already implemented many of the measures proposed, and if you look at our Q1 results (which we announced at the beginning of May), we’re up 17% YoY in terms of revenue growth in the UK and Ireland, which is a real vindication of our decision to be proactive in safer gambling.
We can’t let you go without asking about equality within the workplace, more and more is discussed about fair pay for women and the glass ceiling in terms of career, what is your opinion on this Jane?
At Flutter, we’re committed to creating an environment and a culture in which everyone can thrive, as well as a workforce that is representative of the communities we serve, in all aspects of diversity right across the Group.
Whilst progress has been made, we do still operate in a male dominated industry, which is why we committed, as part of our global DE&I strategy, to increasing diverse representation throughout
our organisation, with a focus on female leaders: by the end of 2026, 40% of top leadership roles will be held by women – we’re currently at 33%.When I started with the company female leadership was in the single digit figures!
As part of our Global Advocacy Programme (GAP) – an initiative led by our Executive Committee that champions different diversity groups and amplifies their voices on a global scale – we’re running regular listening sessionsacross our divisions to hear about the barriers our female talent face and learn what they need at Flutter to thrive. Our US CEO Amy Howe has been a driving force in this initiative and a great inspiration to many of us in Flutter.
And we have taken action to break down some of these barriers and have
implemented a number of initiatives including:
• Targeted improvements to our Family Policies including an improved primaryleave policy of 26 weeks at 100% full pay, with bonuses paid in full while on leave. We’ve also removed the eligibility period for new parents, so it becomes a day one right. This is invaluable for colleagues starting a family.
• Our Lean In network in UK&I provides peer-led support for over 300 women and has been operating since 2019.
• At FanDuel, we’ve launched our first Female Leadership Development Programme focusing on developing the careers of present and emerging female leaders. Assuming this initial pilot is successful, this will serve as a blueprint that will be embedded across Flutter divisions globally
• Our international division has been piloting a Women in Tech career development programme. The team has also implemented initiatives that were developed as part of an ‘Everyone Included’ hackathon in the summer such as a parenting hub and mental health resources
I’m a proud mum of a son and daughter and have benefited from our maternity cover but the networking groups were invaluable to me on my return from leave. Having been on maternity leave for so long you begin to question your ability to do your job. The network of women in similar situations meant I had a safe space to share how I was feeling and gain advice from those who’d walked in my shoes. I also had the pleasure of supportive managers and mentors, both male and female, helping me navigate my return. That transition period was crucial to setting me up for success and also got me a promotion in less than a year of my return to work.
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Light & Wonder Reports Positive Q1 Results
Light & Wonder h as reported their results for the first quarter ending March 31, 2023.
T he company said it entered 2023 with strong momentum and delivered another quarter of double-digit top line growth and consolidated revenue grew 17%, driven by growth across all businesses, including another quarter of record revenues for SciPlay and iGaming:
G aming revenue increased 18% to $419 million compared to the prior year period, primarily driven by continued strength in Gaming machine sales, which increased 53%, and strong performance in Gaming operations and systems.
S ciPlay achieved record revenue of $186 million, an 18% increase compared to the prior year period, driven by the core social casino business, which delivered strong payer metrics and once again outpaced the market and gained share.
i Gaming revenue reached record
quarterly revenue of $65 million, a 10% increase from the prior year period, primarily driven by continued growth in the U.S. market.
M att Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Light & Wonder, said, “We’re off to a strong start in 2023, delivering on all key metrics and once again driving double-digit revenue growth across all three of our businesses. Our strategy and disciplined investments are driving enhanced returns as we continue to develop and execute on our robust product roadmap, building off the strong momentum that we saw in 2022. The teams executed several notable wins and key launches in the quarter, and we have a full pipeline of games that support progress toward our long-term targets. With leading talent, technology and products, we continue to strengthen our position as the leading cross-platform global games company.”
Connie James, Chief Financial Officer of Light & Wonder, added, “We continue to capitalize on the
strong growth opportunities that we see in our markets, and drive margin enhancement across the business as we remain focused on operational excellence. This quarter demonstrates Light & Wonder’s favorable financial profile with strong topline growth flowing to the bottom line, and importantly strong cash conversion, enabling us to invest in future sustainable growth. We continue to focus on generating significant cash flow while maintaining our balanced and opportunistic approach to capital management and a healthy balance sheet to enhance value for our shareholders.”
F irst quarter consolidated revenue was $670 million compared to $572 million, up 17% compared to the prior year period driven by double-digit growth across all of our businesses. Gaming revenue increased 18%, driven by another quarter of robust growth in Gaming machine sales, 53% year-over-year, while both SciPlay and iGaming reached new quarterly records.
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UK White Paper Can AI Be The Answer?
By Christina Thakor-Rankin
After w hat feels like forever, the UK government finally published its long-awaited review into current gambling laws: High stakes: gambling reform for the digital age.
T he review explored a number of different areas around the subject of social responsibility and player safeguarding. Whilstthe recommendations could take the industry in a number of different directions depending on how they are interpreted, the implementation of any solution seemed to share a common theme: technology - in particular to create a frictionless customer due diligence experience, through the use of electronic verification providers utilising data from multiple data sources to provide one consolidated result covering both identify and finan -
‘ Frictionless’ (or a seamless) experience is not a new concept-it is where the industry started. Over the years regulation has seen the introduction of mandatory checks covering age and identify, AML checks, more recently, affordability and safer gambling interactions, whilst an increase in fraud and undesirable customers has seen operators up the ante to address things like bonus abuse, account takeover, ID theft and the rise of synthetic IDs have - making frictionless feel more and more like an impossible dream. And yet, this is exactly what the white paper appears to be advocating.So, the question is how to make the seemingly impossible, possible.
T he suggestion in the white paper is to use asupplier who can con -
duct a number of consolidated checks in the background to validate identity and financial situation. This assumes a solution that includes accurate and up to date national databases; information relating to salaries (national averages are just that and no reflection of a customer’s actual circumstances); and information showing spend habits and levels of discretionary disposable income (currently only available through open banking or customer bank statements), to be able to meet with current regulatory obligations. The technical solution as described would only be frictionless for some and would need to be supported by a crosssector national customer database which required customers to agree to sharing sensitive personal information ahead of engaging with a gambling operator.
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Aside of the obvious data privacy and protection questions, this would not eradicate the need for ongoing monitoring and effective customer interactions, and amplify the consequences of ID theft for both customers and operators.
A possible way could be to re-define ‘frictionless’. Within the context of customer checks, friction is introduced every time a customer is stopped and asked to provide either documents or engage in a safer gambling conversation - both of which come with varying degrees of discomfort due to the need to interact with a human. Would the customer feel less self-conscious if the questions about spending or gambling patterns came from a non-judgemental non-human? What if the entity they were engaging with was their virtual self - their personal safer gambling guardian, created at the same time the account was created but there to keep the customer safe.Could the answer be AI?
The gambling sector is an established early adopter of new technology and according to ChatGPT AI there are a number of ways that it can, or is already being used:
Predictive Analytics: AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns and trends that can help predict outcomes in gambling. For example, in sports betting, AI can analyze historical data on teams and players to make predictions about future game outcomes.
Fraud Detection: AI can help detect fraud in gambling by analyzing patterns of betting behavior and identifying any anomalies that could indicate cheating or other types of fraud.
Personalization: AI can help personalize gambling experiences by analyzing data on individual preferences and behavior. For example, a casino may use AI to recommend games and offers that are tailored to a specific player’s interests and playing style.
Risk Management: AI can help manage risk in gambling by analyzing data on player behavior and identifying potential problem gamblers. This can help casinos and other gambling operators take proactive measures to prevent problem gambling.
Game Optimization: AI can also be used to optimize game design in gambling. For example, AI algorithms can be used to test and refine game mechanics to increase engagement and player satisfaction.
The whole point of A.I. is to replicate human behaviour. Already there are applications looking at creating a virtual self of a loved one to assist with bereavement, and the very first experiments into sentient A.I. applications which seek to mirror not only logical thought but emotions. With machine learning sitting at the heart of the process, the application has the potential to go very quickly from something that is reactive to something that is able to predict a customer’s behaviour and emotional state at any given time and adjust its interaction accordingly.
Avatars are becoming more and more common. A guardian (or buddy) avatar which is presented as the customer’s virtual self that the customer has a hand in creating, and that understands and can mirror their language,
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behaviour and emotion would ‘instinctively’ know how and when to initiate any type of interaction for maximum impact. And as it’s the customer talking to themselves less likely to be seen as friction in the traditional way.
ChatGPT also adds a word of caution. Overall, AI can be a valuable tool for gambling operators to enhance the player experience, improve profitability, and reduce risk. However, it’s important to note that AI is not a guarantee of success in gambling, and ethical considerations should be taken into account when using AI in this context.
It is a valid concern. A virtual version of the recently deceased designed to help someone through the bereavement process is one thing - taking something like this to the next level https:// mezha.media/en/2023/01/20/a-newai-chatbot-makes-it-possible-to-chatwith-hitler/ has the potential to take humanity in a very different direction. An application designed to encourage safer play could just as easily be used to encourage the opposite, so is there a role for the regulator in all of this?
According to ChatGPT, ‘Yes, AI should be regulated to ensure that it is developed and used ethically and responsibly. As AI becomes more advanced and ubiquitous, there are concerns about the potential impact on privacy, security, and employment, among other areas. Regulation can help ensure that AI is developed and used in a way that is transparent, fair, and accountable. It can also help protect individuals from the harmful effects of AI, such as discrimination or bias in decision-making.
There are already some efforts underway to regulate AI. For example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes provisions related to AI, such as the right to an explanation for automated decisions. In addition, some countries, such as Canada and the UK, have established government-led AI strategies that include regulations and guidelines for AI development and use.
However, regulating AI is a complex issue, and there are still many questions about how best to do it. It will likely require collaboration among policy-
makers, industry leaders, and other stakeholders to develop effective and comprehensive regulations that balance innovation with ethical considerations.
And finally, on the White Paper, and for those already using ChatGPT(or equivalent) for work or academic purposes: I’m sorry, but as an AI language model, I don’t have access to future events or documents beyond my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021.
It is only a matter of time before the cutoff disappears and predictive logic applied to sentient AI. Scientists are already predicting that ‘singularity’ - the point when AI exceeds beyond human control, could be as little as 7 years away.
In real terms this means a customer self-excluding in the UK today could find their request to return to play decided not by a human but by AI.
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Digitain on Why They Support the WIGD
Digitain as a business has expanded to a global workforce of over 2,400 highly skilled and experienced team members. We proudly state that over 58% of the company’s product creators are Women In Gaming.
The business, while a technology provider, is fully committed to a people-first vision throughout our brand DNA and values, whose cornerstones are customer centricity, loyalty, and passion in everything we do.
Digitain is a committed multicultural, inclusive employer, across multiple geographical regions.
The business continues to invest heavily in personal and interpersonal development programs, mentoring, upskilling, and the well-being of its people.
A recent anonymous survey for employee satisfaction resulted in a score of 93%, which is a testament to the continued efforts of the Digitain People and Culture Team.
In terms of proactively, the business has a dedicated HR manager per department who closely works with teams. One-to-one meetings are held every six months and are carried out to collect feedback from employees and address it to direct managers for continuous improvement.
We have also created environments
whereby; team members are welcome to address any ideas that may affect company growth. We collect ideas and implement or adapt specific HR programs according to the feedback loop.
Positive leadership and management
Onboarding meetings are an essential part of the Digitain culture.
Everything starts with onboarding meetings on the first day of the employee joining Digitain. During onboarding, the new staff member has the opportunity to know the company’s vision and the achieved milestones and, in general, get knowledge about products/services, the culture, and the office/ department environments.
At Digitain, each manager is responsible for keeping a healthy and joyful working environment and acting as a mentor, coach, and buddy to create an open, friendly, pleasant, and non-confrontational workplace.
We have the opportunity and allocated budget to have gatherings/ parties with our departments twice a year and smaller events throughout the months. This helps us to know each other better and in a dif-
Occasionally, employees have the chance to know the founder of Digitain in person. We have “Breakfast with Mr. Vardanyan” titled meetings where they meet and chat not business related but like basic questions to know him better and the vision for the future.
Demonstrated focus on diversity and inclusion strategies
Digitain is a committed multicultural, inclusive employer and ensures its responsibility to create a safer environment to support active WIG policies.
The business has active policies to ensure a gender-balanced workforce, and we proudly state that 58% of the company’s product creators are Women In Gaming.
For a greener environment, and sustainability standpoint, Digitain’s offices afford the latest structural efficiencies for ergonomics via green spaces, for well-being, air recycling, and waste recycling to reduce carbon footprint.
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SPORTS BETTING FIVE YEARS ON
Five years ago this month the law preventing sports gambling in the US was overturned by the Supreme Court on a vote of 6-3. The result? Gambling outlets are $220 billion richer.
A nd by the looks of things, sportsbook owners are about to get even wealthier. That’s because, like a contagion, the number of states offering sports betting just keeps multiplying. To the extent only one third – including California and Florida - are still holding out. And most of those are expected to succumb too - either soon or eventually.
N ot only that but the industry is evolving, thanks to technology making it easier for people to play ‘micro bets’ during a baseball or soccer game, for instance. This is where bets are placed on
a specific moment in a game, such as what the next bat will make in baseball.
W hat’s most interesting about the whole sports betting industry is that those who fought against allowing sports betting in the first place, are now publicly pals with gambling companies. Those same professional sports leagues who took their case to the Supreme Court demanding a ‘no’ to sports betting now happily promote posters urging gambling on games. Someteams even have betting booths in or near their grounds.
I t was, in fact, on May 14, 2018, that US Supreme Court judges agreed to overturn the 1991 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Then, sports betting was allowed in only four states – Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon – with only
G ambling operators aren’t the only ones to have benefitted from the overturning of the PASPA. Since then States have collected bumper sums in tax revenue, while other avenues of gambling (horse racing and casinos) have received a small boost. Bringing the movement ‘above ground’ has also cut back on the number of black market gambling outlets.
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Nevada allowed single-game wagering. It’s a far different story today.
The sports betting industry’s two biggest players are DraftKings and FanDuel. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said he’s excited to see what the future holds.
“Legal betting is already part of mainstream sports culture, and I anticipate this trend will grow as adoption increases,” he says.“The accessibility right now for fans to place a live, micro-bet during a game, for example, shares parallels with other smartphone-powered capabilities like hailing a ride, buying a stock, or playing a podcast.”
Executives at gaming research company Eilers & Krejcik see a future where hotel chains and drinks companies team up with stadiums and leagues. They also foresee sports betting companies doing more with ‘hyper-casual’ online gambling.
In the meantime, what of the tax
revenues from the sport betting operators that States can benefit from? Over the past five years the amount collected has been around $3.6 billion. Of that figure $3 billion went to state and local governments. Around $570 million was earmarked for the federal government. But it wasn’t just governments who benefitted. Individual consumers too knew the sites they were using were legitimate and they weren’t going to be conned into depositing, then losing, money.
A recent Eilers & Krejcik report showed the UK government collected $6.5 billion in tax revenue from regulated sports betting. An Oxford Economics study calculated that were the majority of states to legalise sports gambling and charge tax of around 10 per cent, then they would generate around $20 billion in new tax revenue from sports betting directly. This
would be doubled in terms of economic output. That $40 billion consisting of increased spending in related industries. Another $7 billion would come from direct labour taxes (employees in the gambling industry) and $11 billion in total and related income streams.
Getting back to real time figures though, the American Gaming Association say sportsbooks in the US made around $17 billion over the past five years. That’s roughly 10 per cent of the money handed over to them, after winnings have been paid out.
FanDuel was the first gaming company to report profits. But it took until the second quarter of 2022. It expects to succeed this year too. DraftKings and BetMGM are expecting to be in the black by the end of the year.
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The leading cross-platform global games company
Connie James EVP & Chief Financial Officer
Roxane Lukas EVP & Chief People Capability Officer
Siobhan Lane EVP & Group Chief Executive Officer, Gaming
Tracy Skenandore VP, Corporate Social Responsibility
Light & Wonder is a proud sponsor of the 2023 WIG Diversity Awards
Katie Byers VP, HR - iGaming
FanDuel and Draft Kings together have a monopoly over the legal sports betting market in America. Eilers & Krejcik reckon they dominate over 70 per cent of it. By February this year, FanDuel owned around 46 per cent, and DraftKings 25 per cent. BetMGM’s share was 12 per cent. Caesars Entertainment in Nevada has just 6.7 percent.
No-one said introducing sports gambling was going to be plain sailing though – least of all the National Council on Problem Gambling. They say they have seen a huge rise in the number of calls to their ‘problem gambling’ hotlines over the past five years. It’s a jump of 15 per cent, in fact. The group’s executive director Keith Whyte describes it as being down to “the fastest and largest expansion of gambling in our history.”
Then there are the allegations of match fixing or similar. In April sports books were closed for an AlabamaLouisiana State University game following ‘suspicious activity’ by the Alabama baseball coach. A number of NFL players have also been suspended while some colleges have been rapped (and fined) for marketing sports betting to students aged 21 and under.
Without a doubt it is the sports leagues who stand to gain the most from sports betting. The commissioners of Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer are already won over. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver insists “sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”Expect to see more official gambling sportsbooks in or beside pro-sports stadiums over the coming years.
What sports betting brings to the leagues is increased fan engagement. Surveys have shown that fans who bet on matches are far more engaged. And that engagement in itself boosts profits since it encourages more people to attend games. Bigger audiences result in more interest from television companies which, in turn, can prove extremely lucrative thanks to broadcasting rights.
You only have to look at the extremely lucrative deals sports leagues have made in recent years with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). The NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB - all of whom were signatories to the New Jersey’s court ruling against decriminalising sports gambling – enjoy big sponsorship and advertising deals with DFS companies. Only the NCAA doesn’t want to partake.
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Sports Betting 5 Years On
WOMEN IN GAMING 2023
PANEL DISCUSSIONS KEYNOTE SPEAKERS ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS
Betsson Group is excited to host the 2nd Diversity and Inclusion Conference in connection with the Women in Gaming Awards on June 8 from 09:30 to 14:00!
This conference is a great opportunity to discuss what we can do to bridge the gender divide and promote equality and equity in the iGaming industry, with the main focus on how we can overcome the gender pay gap and continue to take steps in the right direction.
We will also delve into the controversial subject of beauty bias in the workplace – how it may affect opportunities and what we can do about it – as well as how we can stand out from the crowd and build a personal brand.
Join us before the Awards, at the Clermont Charing Cross Hotel in London, for this half day of motivational and thought-provoking keynotes, panel discussions and talks on how we can take real action and make a change!
Meet some of our speakers...
Mentor & Keynote Speaker, LinkedIn Top Voice 2023!
Chief HR Officer, Betsson Group
J u n e 8 , 2 0 2 3 T h e C l e r m o n t H o t e l C h a r i n g C r o s s , L o n d o n
S e c u r e y o u r s p o t t o d a y ! o n e b e t s s o n . c o m / d i v e r s i t y - c o n f e r e n c e - w i g
Charities Could Lose Millions in Minnesota
The U S State of Minnesota could lose its charitable gaming under a new tax bill which would eliminate the “open all” feature on electronic pull tab games that are played all over the state and raises in 2022 alone $2 billion in revenues that is then distributed to local charities ranging from veteran organizations, civic organizations, to youth sports teams. In fact the number of charities that benefit from electronic pull tabs games is 1,100.
I t is also a major revenue driver for small bars and restaurants that rely on those revenues to keep business afloat.
R achel Jenner, executive director of the Allied Charities of Minnesota, said changing the format of e-pull-tabs would hurt fundraising efforts for more than 1,100 nonprofit charities across the state that benefit from them.
“ Even with a conservative estimate of 25% in loss of play, that would mean 67 million dollars a year to Minnesota charities,” Jenner said. “They’ve also included language to cripple our electronic pull-tabs. This bill could not only destroy our current games but any future the charities have in electronic gambling.”
“ To require players to click three times instead of one time will slow the play of the game. And the less they play, the less they play to pay,” said Jenner.
T he Minnesota native tribes say that electronic pull tab games are no different to slot machines with the “open all” feature and need to revert back to paper games.
Keith Franke, Executive Director Protect Our Charities said, “There have been two court cases brought by the tribes challenging the play of electronic pull tabs. In
both cases, the court ruled against the tribes. The plain facts are that tablet based gaming devices playing electronic pull tabs in bars and veteran’s clubs in no way resemble a slot machine”.
T he tribes have the backing it seems of the Democrats in the state however many residents question that if charitable pull tab games lose the fight to retain the feature, would native tribal casinos offer to donate their slot machine takings to charity. One local resident who regularly plays the pull tab games said, “these pull tab games are low cost, fun to play with friends in a relaxed and friendly environment which raises funds for charities like veteran clubs which I am a member of. Would tribal Indians promise to donate the same amount of funds raised by these games to charities?”
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DraftKings Q1 Up 84% Compared to Previous Year
DraftKings h as announced its first quarter earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2023, the sports betting firm reported revenues of $770 million, an increase of 84% compared to $417 million during the same period in 2022 driven primarily by efficient acquisition of new customers, product innovation driving higher hold percentage, decreased promotional intensity in more mature states, and continued healthy customer retention.
“ DraftKings’ first quarter performance – 84% year-over-year revenue growth and share gains underpinned by a relentless focus on operational efficiency – demonstrates that this is a company positioned for sustained suc-
cess,” said Jason Robins, DraftKings’ Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder. “We delivered highly successful online sportsbook launches in Ohio and our home state of Massachusetts and continued to create meaningful product differentiation driven by in-house innovations. We acquired customers faster and more efficiently and, importantly, saw healthy retention across cohorts. Looking at the remainder of 2023, I am confident DraftKings is well-positioned to achieve profitability on an Adjusted EBITDA basis in the near-term and deliver long-term value for our shareholders.”
“ Strong execution across the organization is showing up in our results,” added Jason Park,
DraftKings’ Chief Financial Officer. “Revenue grew at a healthy rate due to core drivers around customer acquisition, retention and monetization, including decreased promotional intensity and higher structural hold. In addition, our efficiency efforts produced clear results as demonstrated by significant year-overyear increases in gross margin and Adjusted EBITDA. Therefore, we are increasing the midpoint of our fiscal year 2023 revenue guidance to $3.185 billion from $2.95 billion and improving the midpoint of our fiscal year 2023 Adjusted EBITDA guidance to ($315) million from ($400) million.”
THE UK WHITE PAPER SHAKE UP
By Staff Reporter
It’s t he biggest proposed changes to the gambling sector for nearly two decades. And the latest Gambling Act Review White Papercertainly doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to tightening up legislation for both online betting and digital gambling in general.
T hat’s because it is obvious regulation of the industry hasn’t kept up with the speedy digital transfor -
mation of the sector during the past decade or two. Not when you consider the previous Gambling Act went through parliament in 2005.
O nline gambling is now more profitable than land-based betting activity. This is due in no small measure to its growing popularity and ease of use during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. But the growth of online gambling
is, of course, also facilitated by the fact that it is perfectly possible to access an online gambling site within minutes on a smart phone.
A reas touched on in the White Paper, unveiled recently in the House of Commons by Secretary of State for the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), Lucy Frazer, include targeted online advertising and sports promotions, safeguarding the vulnerable, transparency and protections for younger online players (including improved restricted access for children).
A t the same time the government says it wants to set a balance between protecting individuals –especially those deemed to have a gambling problem – and allowing freedom of choice.
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This was also following reports that Flutter made £908 million in revenue in the US for the first three months of 2023. That was £300 million more than the UK and Ireland. The reason for the US gains is due to more US states giving the legal go-ahead for sports betting. At the same time the group lost £150 million a year in the UK after having to restrict deposits for under-25s. The White Paper proposals are expected to cost them up to a further £100 million per year, according to group CEO Peter Jackson.
The government itself acknowledges the proposals will come at a cost to gambling operators. This is in terms of the costs for implementing the new rules, and in reduced revenue in comparison with current income. Gross Gambling Yield is expected to fall by up to 14 per cent.
Other changes to current legislation
include changing the voluntary levy gambling operators pay to a mandatory one. Operators will be given a set rate, to be paid to the Gambling Commission, and which will be used to help fund research and treatment on problem gambling. Some of the cash will also be given to the NHS to set up gambling addiction services.
Quicker deletion of illegal gambling sites are planned thanks to the introduction of speedier court orders, as well as closer partnerships with Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Key points highlighted by the White Paper
The main proposed changes in the White Paper are those which make it more difficult for individuals to fall into the role of a problem gambler. The Paper also sets out more ‘responsible
roles’ for operators.
The most significant changes for consumers are financial caps, credit checks and the introduction of an ombudsman.
• Introducing new financial risk checks in an attempt to help individuals run up huge gambling debts. Operators will be asked to carry out ‘passive’ checks for credit red flags, such as county court judgements. This is for customers depositing more than £125 in a month. Those depositing £1,000 per day or £2,000 in 90 days will also face close scrutiny.
•Putting controls on the speed of online casino games
(Continued next page)
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• Restricting amounts for online slot machines. There is a proposal for limits of between £2 and £15 per individual – a consultation for which is expected to go out this summer.
• More protection for younger gamblers ie those aged 18 to 24 years of age. Also raising the minimum age to 18 for all online gambling products
• Cross-operator harm prevention checks where operators share information on ‘problem gamblers’ to ensure individuals don’t have multiple accounts. It is proposed to make this data sharing practice mandatory.
• Improvement in player-centric tools so that those playing can manage their money better.
• Setting up a dispute resolution scheme to give players redress where an operator has failed to protect an individual who has suffered large losses.
Targeting advertising to students and other young people will incur the Commissions wrath in future (several large fines have already been issued in this area). At the same time there are proposals for more scrutiny on particular promotions such as ‘free’ bets which en-
courage individuals to keep gambling. There are suggestions to set up an Online Advertising Programme, aimed at looking at other ways to prevent harmful advertising and marketing practices.
One of the bigger surprises in the White Paper was the absence of a ban on gambling sponsorship on shirts for Premier League Clubs. This was down to a recent voluntarily agreement by the clubs to remove any gambling sponsorship logos from the front of football shirts when playing in matches, by summer 2026. The shirt ban, however, doesn’t include the back of sleeves.
The Gambling Commission itself is expected to become more pro-active as it oversees the new changes and keeps an eye on operator compliance. The organisation said there were at least 60 initiatives that it would probably end up implementing or looking in to.
Despite this, a spokesman for the Commission welcomed the White Paper, the implementation of which, he insisted, would become their prime purpose for the foreseeable future.
“The White Paper gave a commitment to increasing our regulatory powers to tackle illegal gambling and to facilitat-
ing cross-government collaboration on a number of areas, which will help us deliver on our growing regulatory responsibilities,” he said.
“The scale of work outlined in the White Paper is significant, and rightly so. This will be the dominant policy initiative for the Commission over the next few years as we move through the stages of development, implementation, evaluation and review.”
Following a period of consultation, the results of which are expected to be announced this summer, the government plans to push through the reforms. This is to ensure that most of the legislation is in the Act by summer 2024 (the reforms having been stalled numerous times, not least by the pandemic).
Not all proposals in the Gambling Act Review White Paper will see the light of day. But the vast majority of them will. Certainly, the proposed legislation outlines the government’s intent to try and control the online betting sector to a much greater extent. At the same time, it wants to provide much more protection to consumers than at present.
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Is HERE TO STAY
By Jill Stevenson
Some l ove it, others loath and fear it – but there’s no question that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay.
H ow it develops and who, and what, it affects is still up for debate. Even its developers aren’t quite sure whether it’s a force for good or evil. But then, life isn’t that black and white. Very rarely is something ‘all good’ or ‘all bad.’ And, in the case of AI, it may very well depend in whose (human) hands the applications land.
Take the gambling industry, for instance. AI has been embraced by some advocates as a ‘tool for good.’ That’s because, in future, it will be able to ‘identify’ problem gamblers – or at least, when
a player’s activity and betting is becoming erratic. He or she could then be asked to stop ‘for their own good.’ Whether the player would appreciate this is neither here nor there. What it does do though is show that the gambling operators are fulfilling their commitment to help prevent problems with addiction and heavy debt.
A t the same time AI could alert operators to suspicious behaviour, again by flagging up unusual user patterns.
I n the wrong hands, however, a tool which can identify vulnerable individuals and keep them hooked, could have the opposite effect –destroying lives and making millions for whoever is operating the
A I software has the ability to act human-like, in that it can learn –and not just in rote form, but also by experience. Then there is it is ability to problem-solve, plan and even prove creative (recent advances has seen software programmes paint credible art and produce song lyrics).
T his is impressive. The problems with such advances in the sector AI isn’t regulated, nor is it monitored. It’s taking off at such a rate that very few – in any – individuals can keep up. And, considering AI has a place to play in many industries, that’s alarming.
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Even the man described as ‘the godfather,’ of AI, Dr Geoffrey Hinton, has thrown up his hands in horror. Or rather, quit his job in AI at Google. The move was to allow him to warn of the dangers the technology could have for the future of mankind. That sounds a tad overlydramatic, but it’s not, according to Dr Hinton.
The problems arose when Google’s biggest competitor Microsoft got in on the act. Competition let to rapid advancements – many of which had no-one to monitor or reel them in.
One of Dr Hinton’s fears is that AI chatbots could become more intelligent than humans. It could also, he says, “allow authoritarian leaders to manipulate their electorates, things like that.” That’s because AIgenerated photos, videos and text appear so genuine that it would be
easy for them to flood the internet and fool voters or individuals in general.
He is also worried about the effects AI would have on the labour workforce, especially for those currently engaged in jobs such as personal assistants and paralegals, for instance. With Google’s Bard being able to write blogs and other bots able to translate technical jargon into layman’s language easily, copywriters too could face an uncertain future. The latest version of the company OpenAI’s ChatGPT (it’s the fourth prototype) is able to diagnose a 1 in 100,000 medical condition in seconds. It also passed its US medical licence with flying colours. But as one doctor (rather importantly) pointed out…it hasn’t taken the Hippocratic Oath.
Proponents of AI say the technolo-
gy will carry out the mundane tasks and allow humans to concentrate on more interesting roles instead. In Sales, for instance, humans could be encouraged to upskill in negotiation and communication (rather than waste time sitting answering the phone). Very few of like talking to a computer after all.
Not only that, but we have an inherent bias against them. An article in the US journal Computers in Human Behavior, based on research, showed people were more likely to mark an artwork or musical score down if they thought it had been generated by a computer rather than a human (even if they initially loved it). This is because many people believe creativity is a uniquely human ability. Experts say this inherent – and often implicit – bias will prove a difficult barrier for AI to deal with.
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The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
Sticking with the sales example, people making large purchases (such as a car, house, or furniture) are more likely to believe, trust and like a human being rather than a machine. Humans, after all, can have relatable experiences, as well as emotional reactions.
Getting back to the world of gambling, casinos are already using chatbots to communicate with gamblers and provide a 24/7 sophisticated answering service. Yes, customer service has improved. So too has security – voice and facial recognition have been underway for some time. Predictive maintenance has been around for a while too. But more recent advances include machine learning being able to identify ‘important’ customers.
In future learning will become far more sophisticated so that AI won’t just recognise customers, it will be able to provide bespoke user-pages for them. That means identifying the type of online gambling they prefer - whether casino games or slot machines etc - and produce a list of these a list of these for users (saving them the time of searching themselves).
AI will also be able to predict the type of difficulties customers may fall into, based on their current and past performance. It will then be ready with a solution when the time comes.
And then there’s the issue with problem gamblers. Anyone who believes that in identifying and banning them, casinos are shooting themselves in the foot, need to listen to Alan Feldman. A fellow in responsible gambling at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas he insists that “Casinos need to have customers in order to sustain
themselves…and the only way to have customers is to have customers who themselves are healthy and thriving and able to pay their bills and come back the next time.”
Poker bots have been around for some time. The fact they aren’t human gives them an advantage as there are no nervous tics to give players away. Nor will they grow tired and weary during a long game.
And who could forget the 1997 win of chess supercomputer Deep Blue over grandmaster Garry Kasparov? The machine beat the master by studying movements and making it is own decisions based on learning. That’s exactly what AI is all about,
only today it’s branched into far more areas than simply chess. And now AI has gotten all creative.
Instead of employees who are worried about their jobs and future employment prospects, having a luddite outlook (ie being anti-AI), maybe it is time to ‘join forces with the enemy.’ After all, AI is here to stay. There may be a possibility of it being curbed in future, and it definitely needs monitoring, but just think what the combination of machine intelligence and human emotion could come up with in the future. Certainly, something humans as a race have never thought of before…
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MGM Believes UAE to Legalise Gambling This Year
It s eems very likely that the United Arab Emirates will allow gambling this year and MGM Resorts are keen to take advantage should that occur. Already the casino giant is going to be first to build a casino resort in Osaka Japan with breaking ground there this year and it is slated to be open in 2030.
H owever in 2017 the casino and hotel operator said that it had plans to build an MGM Hotel Resort in Dubai which would not have gambling but have some 1,000 hotel room and leisure facilities but there were indications then that one day gambling would be permitted.
T hat has now been strengthened after the latest set of results were announced by MGM when CEO Bill Hornbuckle said, “As it relates to
Dubai, that property continues to evolve, we’re the managers, but the owners want to upgrade the property, I think, with gaming in mind. But it’s up to Abu Dhabi and the national government to ultimately decide. … We’re hoping ‘any day.’ But I got to believe as the summer fulfils itself, we’ll hear more news on that.”
H ornbuckle went on to say, “We have had people on the ground there basically nonstop since the first of the year, trying to understand the opportunity in Abu Dhabi and then ultimately, if it will open up,” He continued, “If they pass on it, [the opportunity] will open up to the other Emirates. Whether the rulers of each Emirate then take it upon themselves to approve it is up to them.”
“Obviously, we’re focused on
Dubai, and we think it would be ideal,” Hornbuckle said. “There happens to be 150,000 to 200,000 square feet of space that could be converted into such a thing. But time to tell there, and we’re not saying no to Abu Dhabi either.”
H owever Wynn Resorts are set to break ground in the UAE this year as part of a $3 billion plus resort with an opening for 2027, only in March the CEO of Wynn Resorts Craig Scott Billings indicated that the resort would have a gaming part to it, however it was not clear if that means eSports or gambling.
I t does seem that in a bigger push for the UAE to become the destination for holiday makers it will legalise gambling but certain to be only for foreign players.
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Leading Gaming Brands Speak on Diversity
The Women in Gaming (WIG) Diversity & Inclusion Awards will take place on the 8th June at the stunning Savoy Hotel in London, celebrating and recognising the diverse and inclusive culture companies have within their business.
To understand why the WIG Diversity is so special and why hundreds enter every year, we asked our sponsors to explain themselves why the WIG Diversity is so special and why they support the event.
We asked Gamomat for their thoughts on why they have sponsored:
Diversity is deeply embedded
in GAMOMAT’s code of conduct. These principles made it an easy decision to sponsor the event since the WiG is the standout diversity event in the gaming industry. We know the rich potential women are capable of achieving if they are given genuine support. WiG is a wonderful way to celebrate
Collaborating closely with founders Lana and Colin along with the rest of the Clever Duck Media Team makes it even easier to support. Everything works smoothly and their passionate commitment to the women’s cause in iGaming is evident in every aspect of the organisation. Creating a culture of teamwork that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination is of paramount importance for our industry to attract the brightest talents.
“We live strong values at GAMOMAT and view diversity as a resource. That’s why we are determined to support initiatives like the WiG Diversity Award. Together we will raise awareness of diversity in our industry and give women
the recognition they deserve.” Dr. Alexandra Krone, Managing Director at GAMOMAT
Next we asked IGT for their
thoughts on why sponsoring and supporting the WIG Diversity is important to them:
For more than a decade, IGT has been a sponsor and ardent supporter of the Women in Gaming Diversity (WiG) awards program. Representatives from the multinational company state that the program aligns with IGT’s
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commitment to uplifting women and other underrepresented groups in the workplace and supports an important, company-wide initiative.
“Valuing and protecting our people’ is one of the key priorities driving IGT’s Sustainable Play initiative, a global effort that we formally unveiled at ICE earlier this year,” said Wendy Montgomery, IGT SVP Global Marketing, Communications and Sustainability. “IGT embraces opportunities such as the Women in Gaming Diversity Awards to recognize our high-performing employees and highlight the contributions of our female leaders. For more than a decade, the WiG awards have provided an additional platform for IGT to honor top talent at all levels of our organization while casting an industry-wide spotlight on the contributions of female leaders in the sector.”
IGT employees have been honoured in WiG program awards for many consecutive years. Most recently,
IGT’s Victoria Dolan and Jennifer Bowman were recognized as “Ones to Watch” within the industry due to their leadership and contributions within the sector. Similarly, in 2022 Dolan was named WiG’s “Leader of the Year,” and in 2021, Shondra Deloach-Perea was recognized for “Innovation in Employee Engagement” and Bowman was honoured with the “Outstanding Contribution” award.
As a company, Betsson Group is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within the online gaming industry. That’s why we’re proud to sponsor the ‘Women in Gaming, Diversity and Employee Wellbeing Awards’. These awards align with our mission to create a more inclusive and diverse industry, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
We believe that by sponsoring
this event, we can demonstrate our commitment to these values. Additionally, we are excited to be part of an initiative that celebrates outstanding female professionals who can inspire and serve as role models for younger women working within the industry or aspiring to join it.
At Betsson Group, we acknowledge that diversity is fundamental to the success of our industry. Therefore, we are pleased to once again support the Women in Gaming awards. We hope that this event will encourage other organisations to follow our lead and actively promote
diversity and inclusion not only within their own workforce but also beyond.
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Powering the Green Revolution: the Pros and Cons
By Lynn Pearce
The g lobal push towards electric vehicles (EVs) as a means to combat climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels has gained significant momentum. However, it is essential to examine both the advantages and drawbacks of EVs, including the production and use of lithium batteries. While the shift to EVs represents a promising step towards sustainability, it is crucial to consider the potential environmental impacts and socioeconomic implications involved.
T he global movement towards replacing traditional petrol vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs) has gained significant momentum as governments and corporations rally to combat climate change. However, amidst this push, a critical question arises: could the mass production of 70 million EVs annually potentially result in equal or greater harm to the environment? It is imperative to take a realistic and comprehensive look
at the intricacies of this transition, as I find myself perched on the fence, eager to delve deeper into the matter. Beyond the surface, it becomes evident that this issue is multifaceted, encompassing both positive and negative aspects, as well as questionable intentions of certain corporations seeking to profit from the green movement, which can further exacerbate socio-economic disparities. While the underlying ideology is commendable, the interplay of human nature raises concerns about the motives at play, questioning whether the transition is primar -
ily driven by a genuine desire for environmental preservation or a mere money grab in the current landscape.
Roger Atkins, the founder of Electric Vehicles Outlook Ltd and host of the Electric and Eclectic podcast, has expressed skepticism about the notion that EVs alone can save the planet. His argument focuses on the need to re-evaluate our dependence on personal vehicle ownership altogether, rather than simply transitioning to EVs.
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Atkins raises valid concerns regarding the substantial amounts of minerals required for EV batteries, including copper, cobalt, nickel, rare earth metals, and lithium. The demand for lithium has surged due to the rapid growth of EVs and battery storage. This increased demand raises concerns about the environmental and social impacts associated with lithium mining.
Currently, China, Chile, the US, and Australia are the primary sources of lithium production. However, environmentalists have highlighted potential issues such as soil degradation, damage to local ecosystems, and water shortages associated with lithium extraction. It is estimated that 2.2 million liters of water are required to produce one ton of lithium.
On a more positive note, while these challenges are significant, it is important to note that the EV industry is continuously evolving. Efforts are underway to develop more sustainable battery technologies and improve
recycling and disposal processes. Researchers are exploring alternative materials to reduce the reliance on scarce minerals and mitigate environmental impacts.
Pros of Electric Vehicles:
EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in urban areas. This shift away from internal combustion engines can contribute to improved air quality and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
EVs offer opportunities for integrating renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, into the electricity grid. This enables the storage of excess renewable energy, facilitating a more efficient and sustainable energy system.
Electric motors are significantly more energy-efficient than internal combustion engines, as they convert a higher percentage of the energy from the grid to power at the wheels. This
can lead to reduced energy consumption and lower fuel costs for consumers.
EVs produce less noise pollution compared to traditional vehicles, leading to quieter and more peaceful urban environments.
Cons of Electric Vehicles:
The production of lithium-ion batteries, which are currently the most common type of battery used in EVs, requires the extraction of raw materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. These materials are often mined in environmentally sensitive areas, leading to land degradation, water pollution, and potential human rights concerns.
Lithium-ion batteries have a limited lifespan, typically ranging from 8 to 15 years. Once their capacity diminishes, they need to be replaced or recycled, which requires proper disposal techniques to avoid potential environmental contamination.
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Lynn Pearce Article
The widespread adoption of EVs necessitates a robust charging infrastructure to ensure convenient access to charging points. The installation and maintenance of charging stations require significant investments and planning, posing challenges for rural or underdeveloped regions.
The environmental benefits of EVs heavily depend on the energy sources used to generate electricity. If the grid predominantly relies on fossil fuels, the overall emissions reduction may be limited. Therefore, a simultaneous transition to renewable energy sources is vital to maximize the environmental advantages of EVs.
The initial cost of EVs is often higher
than that of traditional vehicles, primarily due to the expensive battery technology. This can pose a barrier to entry for lower-income individuals. The fact that many governments are mandating the transition to EVs with a deadline in the USA of 2030, makes this a real issue for a lot of people struggling to get by, food prices are sky-rocketing and the cost of living is getting higher all the time. However, as economies of scale are realized, prices are expected to decrease, making EVs more accessible.
The transition to EVs has the potential to create new job opportunities in manufacturing, research and development, and infrastructure development. Simultaneously, it may require retraining and support for workers in the traditional automotive sector.
The transition to electric vehicles presents both significant advantages and challenges. While EVs offer the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and promote renewable energy integration, the production and disposal of lithium batteries, as well as the need for robust charging infrastructure, require careful consideration.
Addressing the environmental and socio-economic concerns associated with EV adoption is crucial for realizing the full potential of these vehicles in the global pursuit of sustainable transportation and a greener future.
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Lynn Pearce Article
A good reputation is more valuable than money
By Vanessa Simpson Director ACE Hollreiser
As P ublilius Syrus once said, “A good reputation is more valuable than money,” and this statement has never been more true than it is today. Nowadays with an abundance of choice in all i ndustries consumers are not inherently loyal and may switch to competitors if they are offering better products, customer serviceor its values better align with that of the consumers.
Reputation management is critical for any business, but it is especially important in the gambling industry. Gambling companies are often associated with negative connotations such as addiction, fraud, and money laundering. The way in which a gambling company is perceived by its customers and the wider public can make or break its success. Reputation management is therefore of the
utmost importance for any gambling company looking to thrive in this competitive market.
Reputation management involves a range of strategies and techniques that help a company to build, protect, and maintain its reputation. In the gambling industry, this can involve everything from ensuring that the company is licensed and regulated by the relevant authorities, to providing high-quality customer service and developing a strong brand identity.
I n today’s world, consumers are increasingly interested in knowing not only what services companies provide, but also how they operate and what values they hold. So, companies that are able to build a strong reputation for transparency, responsible gambling, and highquality products and services are
likely to enjoy greater success in the long-term, as customers are more likely to trust and engage with them.
I n the highly competitive gambling industry, customers have many options to choose from. Therefore, a positive reputation can be the deciding factor for customers when selecting a gambling provider.
A t ACE Hollreiser we wanted to make the fundamentals of reputation management easy for our clients to digest so created our twelve rules of reputation.
W hile all twelve are important to companies within the gambling industry, these three are especially relevant:
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Rule 2: Reveal your heart
Rule 5: A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money
Rule 9: Don’t ghost
We’re going to look at each of these three rules and how they can apply to gambling operators.
Rule 2: Reveal your heart
One of the most important aspects of reputation management in the gambling industry is transparency. Customers want to know that they can trust the operator they are gambling with, and this requires a high degree of transparency in terms of the operator’s operations, policies, and procedures. This can include providing clear and concise terms and conditions, being open and honest about the odds of
winning, and providing clear information about how customer data is stored and used.
While transparency is important and a good way for an operator to reveal its heart, it is also really important that operators demonstrate authenticity when dealing with negative issues. As with many industries operating in a regulated environment, gambling companies face a high level of scrutiny, often reputation damaging scrutiny. So, in order to protect a reputation at risk, maintaining a level of transparency and revealing your heart can be the best strategy. Customers respect honesty and despite the issue it will often trigger understanding and respect, therefore protecting the company’s reputation.
Another reason why operators
should reveal their hearts is that it can attract new employees who share those same values. In today’s job market, people are looking for more than just a paycheck. They want to work for companies that align with their personal beliefs and values. By being transparent about their values, companies can attract employees who are passionate about the same things. This can lead to a more engaged and motivated workforce, which can have a positive impact on the company’s reputation.
Rule 5: A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money
Another hugely important aspect of reputation management in the gambling industry is responsible gambling.
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As the industry has grown and technology has advanced in recent years, so too has public concern about the potential harms associated with gambling. For this reason, it is essential that gambling companies take steps to promote responsible gambling and to protect vulnerable customers. This can include providing information and resources to help customers manage their gambling, implementing strict age verification procedures, and monitoring customer behaviour for signs of problem gambling.
Implementing responsible gambling tools and restricting players can have a significant cost implication to operators. However, an operator that proves it genuinely believes in protecting their players despite the large financial implications will be seen as the more reliable, safer operator. This creates a positive impact on its reputation.
Rule 9: Don’t ghost
Trust is a critical factor in the gambling industry. Customers are placing their money and personal information in the hands of the business. Therefore, they need to trust the gambling business to provide fair and secure services. Which means excellent customer service is essential for reputation management in the gambling industry.
Operators should ensure that customer service is a top priority and that all customer queries are addressed promptly and efficiently.
The same goes on social media where many disgruntled players will voice their opinions.
Responding to negative feedback is essential for managing reputation. Operators should respond to
negative comments and reviews promptly and address customer concerns. Getting back to people quickly and ensuring they feel heard demonstrates commitment to the players and goes a long way when it comes to reputation management.
Providing excellent customer service will build and maintain trust with customers, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and revenue.
In conclusion, reputation management is critical for gambling companies as it helps to build trust and confidence with customers and regulatory bodies. It is essential for gambling companies to maintain a positive reputation to ensure their longevity and success in the highly competitive and regulated gambling industry.
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A Good Reputation