Chris Percy, senior data scientist with safer gambling specialists BetBuddy, on Playtech Protect’s new quarterly research briefings to share insights and best practices with stakeholders
We are pleased to announce a new Playtech Protect service, Industry Research Briefings – designed to provide our partners with original, accessible and practical research findings, from both Playtech internal and peer-reviewed research, as well as research from our wider industry collaborations. The key focus of our research will be on building an empirical evidence base on gambling and harms.
Bridging the Gap Between Science and Industry
The challenge for industry in accessing scientific gambling research is that research insights often remain tucked-away in hard-to-discover scientific papers, often inaccessible without paying a fee, and written in language and terminology that requires expert interpretation. A large proportion of such research is undertaken by academics who do not possess the domain access and technical knowledge to translate the outcomes from research into practical industry actions.
Playtech Protect research will look to bridge the gap between science and industry. Our research will often be peer-reviewed; that is, submitted to scientific conference or journals for review by experienced academics, who decide whether the research is of sufficient quality for publication or presentation. This adds a level of confidence and assurance that policy makers and regulators expect when considering evidence around gambling-related harms. However, these Industry Research Briefings have been developed to make the key insights accessible, without the need for an advanced degree in psychology or statistics.
It is not always practical or possible to have every piece of research peer-reviewed, and influential, high-quality studies commissioned by regulators, advisory boards and sector bodies are typically published without an academic peer-review process. For these reasons, we will also include research insights foe which we consider industry and stakeholder access would be highly valuable.
Initial Focus on Product Safety
The Playtech Protect briefings will cover a variety of topical themes in safer and responsible gambling, such as Data Analytics, Product Safety, Ethics and AI and Digital Resilience. They will be issued every quarter, with our first focused on Product Safety, specifically slots volatility and player risk. Product Safety has attracted significant attention this year, notably with the recent release of the Betting and Gaming Council’s Game Design Code of Conduct.
Our first research briefing discusses the findings of a recent study undertaken by Playtech examining the online slots play and financial transaction data of ~4k players from two UK operators in 2018/19. We compared how players’ behaviour typically changed when they started playing games with either higher or lower volatility than they were used to. As gambling researchers, we are interested in analysing and isolating specific game structural characteristics, such as stake size or volatility, to see whether exposure to them can be linked to a player’s risk of harm. For example, we can access whether a player’s BetBuddy risk rating increases or decreases as a player engages in games that have a higher maximum stake.
What did we find with this study?
There is some evidence of increased declined deposits and BetBuddy risk ratings when players shift to games with a moderately higher volatility. However, this relationship appears to vary by type of player and sometimes reverses at high levels of volatility.
What does this mean for industry?
One implication is that operators and game design studios may wish to look to their mix of slots games available to players, making sure there is a mixture of low, moderate and high volatility games available, and ensuring that high volatility games are not excessively promoted to players over other games.
You can access the full briefing here
The gambling industry remains under intense regulatory scrutiny. There has never been a more important time for industry to collaborate and leverage its expertise in products and data to help shape the regulatory debate. We need to develop an evidence base that focuses on initiatives that help and support customers, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable industry. We hope Playtech Protect Industry Research Briefings will play an important part in providing accessible evidence and insights over the coming months and years.