Today the UKGC announced a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling transactions from mid April. 3radical believe this ban has been a long time coming, and was even mentioned in the Gaming Industry Report published last year. Even though the percentage of problem gamblers reported by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) remains incredibly low, the commission’s chief executive, Neil McArthur, has said that “22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers” (approximately 176,000 people). Therefore to us it makes perfect sense to us that to help protect players, stopping them from being able to rack up a lot of debt by using credit cards to gamble is an excellent idea. Since the announcement the debate on whether this new legislation is enough has already heated up, and at 3radical a very big concern is whether this will have any real impact on problem gamblers’ behaviour – especially considering it wouldn’t take much effort for a problem gambler to transfer money from their credit card to their debit account. Not least with all the money transfer offers that abound.
From our experience, any regulation and legislation implemented by the UKGC has gradually led to a shift in industry focus from costly acquisition strategies to mutually beneficial loyalty and retention strategies. Over the last few years acquisition and conversion costs have dramatically increased, and this can be attributed to an increase in competition, the cost of implementing certain legislation, and the marketing costs associated with attracting, and on-boarding a new player. Ultimately the operators and brands in the industry have had no choice but to change strategy.
For all operators the main focus must be on protecting their customers and at 3radical we have seen that the operators and brands that really look after their players in an open and transparent, ongoing manner have had many long term benefits. By building longer-lasting and mutually beneficial and profitable player-operator relations, brands will increase their base of responsible, loyal players, increase advocate numbers (which will eventually lead to a healthy increase in effective acquisition) and will help avoid the costly ‘race to the bottom’.
Loyalty and retention can not only help operators increase revenue in such a challenging market, but can also help build more customer trust in an industry that has attracted its fair share of negative media attention over the last 10 years. After all, if an operator knows its players and their behaviour then they can not only identify better and faster if a player is starting to display problematic behaviour but they can also start addressing that behaviour. Responsible gambling is part of a responsible relationship between operator and player.