In 2019, 2CV Research conducted a qualitative study on behalf of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (the Gambling Commission) that explored current consumer experiences and perceptions of gambling operator interactions. This work was done in conjunction with a public consultation on the same subject.
The Gambling Commission’s regulations in relation to general licence conditions and associated code of practice provisions (LCCP) and the requirement for operators to provide customer interactions can be found here.
2CV’s research was conducted in order to provide the Gambling Commission with a customer perspective on operator interactions. To explore this subject questions were posed and tasks requested of 52 online community participants over a 14-day period. This research asked participants to share past experiences, overall perceptions and desired future developments for evolving the current state of operator interactions.
On a conceptual level participant’s viewed operator interactions as a fundamentally positive action. Helping those in need of safer gambling messaging and putting functional barriers in place was seen as undoubtedly ‘a good thing’. Despite this conceptual positivity, however, the behavioural reality of people’s lived experience of operator interactions was very different. There was a high degree of negativity towards the prospect of personally receiving an interaction in future, regardless of personal play frequency or spend. While in the ‘hot state’ of play, players want to be left alone and will push back against attempts to restrict them.
Most people perceive their own gambling behaviour as ‘normal’ (regardless of play frequency or spend) and perceive vulnerable ‘others’ who are at risk. Operator interactions (particularly when delivered face to face) have a high potential to make customers unhappy and with players recognizing the challenge this presents for operators.
On a more positive note, the results indicated that amongst those in the sample who had received an interaction of operator interactions of safer gambling messaging or play limits in the past, there was a clear level of positivity in retrospect towards these. This was the case even where a participant’s in-the-moment reaction may have been annoyance or frustration.
Operator identification of interaction opportunities was felt to require a combination of data inputs – isolated metrics being too simplistic. Level of spend was seen by the particpant’s as the most viable indicator of ‘at risk’ players when combined with other factors such as:
The consensus of opinion from the participants was that operator interactions should exist on spectrum for all, with interactions that escalate in line with ongoing spend and other risk indicators.
2CV’s expectation of participants was that operators should be offering increasingly smarter, more transparent and more personalised interventions. People expect operators to be working to continually improve their use of customer data to provide transparent, personalised and ‘human’ interactions at appropriate moments – both on and offline.
Identifying appropriate moments to interact and provide a personally tailored experience is a huge challenge for the industry to grapple with. Customers instinctually feel that interactions should happen on a very personal level, but recognise the challenges operators face delivering this. As operators are increasingly able to deliver personalised communications and offers through customer data, the expectation for smarter safeguards and cross-operator collaboration to provide safer gambling measures will continue to increase.
Looking beyond compliance within the requirements of a regulatory body, interactions have the potential to change people’s lives. Participants in this study reported previously experienced operator interactions playing an important role in adjusting their attitudes and gambling behaviour over time. Brands able to communicate and demonstrate a dedication to safer gambling stand to gain customers by being an operator who can be trusted to tell them when enough is enough.
2CV is a global consumer research agency that is dedicated to delivery in innovative research solutions. Established in 1989 it is in the top 20 research agencies internationally with global capacity of over 100 staff it is able to offer both qualitative and quantitative research that meets the needs of changing consumer behaviour.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission licenses and regulates the people and businesses that provide gambling in Great Britain including the National Lottery.