The bwin.party-Harvard Collaborative: Consumer protection based on scientific evidence

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Overview
As a global market leader in online gaming servicing millions of customers, our long-term success is dependent on us acting responsibly. To us, responsibility means doing more than what is required. It means doing what is right – for players, stakeholders and society. Since 2005, we have been working together with the Division on Addiction (DOA), a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate, to obtain information about actual gaming behaviour and customers’ needs. By using scientific evidence we were able to create a gaming environment that is pioneering for the industry in terms of innovative, safe and responsible products and services.

Impact
Our consumer protection measures are subjected to scientific evaluation and continuous improvement. Since the onset of the collaborative, the DOA’s researchers have published 18 related studies in renowned international peer-reviewed scientific journals. As a consequence we are the only online gambling operator so far that has a consumer protection concept which is scientifically proven to be effective. One example would be that the DOA scientifically proved that our feature allowing pre-commitment on expenditure limits leads to a significant reduction in gambling frequency and intensity for affected players and thus making sure they do not lose control over their gambling.

Innovation
What a gambler does inside a casino, a bet shop or a gaming arcade is largely not transparent. On the Internet every single transaction is tracked and linked with the account of an ID-verified customer. By means of big data analysis, this creates a thorough picture of the gambling patterns that can be used for fundamental research and, in practice, for evidence-based consumer protection. For the first time, we can use behavioural analytics and research allowing us to pro-actively identify the specific protection needs of player groups and to identify risky behaviours and gambling-related problems before they can emerge.[/one_half_last]

Insight
We had very pragmatic expectations when the project started in 2005: the team at Harvard Medical School should develop algorithms for the early detection and prevention of gambling-related problems. We had no idea that everything the scientific community knew about online gambling was based on commentaries and self-reports by players, which again were only what they remembered and wanted to say. No scientific publication had been based upon actual online gambling behaviour. Before our partner could even start to address our question, they had to develop a completely new scientific paradigm for the exploration of actual behaviour in online gambling.

Inspiration
eCommerce depends strongly on trust. This is equally true for online gambling. Customers do not only want to be sure that their funds are well protected and the games are fair. Customers also want to be sure that an operator will not exploit them, but instead help them to always stay in control of their game. One of the recent evaluations has impressively underlined this notion. Our proactive stance towards consumer protection in online gambling not only helps to prevent gambling-related problems but also strengthens consumer trust in our brands and thereby reduces customer churn.[/one_half_last] Speaker
Joachim Haeusler
Responsible Gaming Manager
bwin.party digital entertainment


Joachim Haeusler is the Responsible Gaming Manager of bwin.party digital entertainment, the world s largest listed online gambling business, providing online gambling in a safe environment geared to moderate recreational gambling to more than 3 millions of active customers per year. In this function, he is responsible for the strategic development and innovation of the consumer protection including player protection tools and policies across all products across all labels operating under different national regulatory frameworks. Additionally, he coordinates international cooperation projects with stakeholders from academia and counseling organizations. He has a background in Psychological research.