4H Agency — How Responsible Gaming Is Evolving In The Digital Age

In his op-ed, Ivan Kurochkin, partner at 4H Agency, talks about the aspects of responsible gaming, including regulatory issues, player retention and social responsibility.

If we compare attitude to responsible gambling matters today and, for example, five or ten years ago we can highlight that such attitude from various industry stakeholders has changed not only drastically but actually has made a path from zero stage to point of at least acknowledgement of existence and importance of responsible gambling matters following its implementation (regulatory driven or on a voluntary basis).

Bringing the importance of responsible gambling instruments upfront should not be made only via implementing new regulatory requirements for operators to comply with. It is notable to make this process viable for all industry stakeholders (e.g., operators, players and regulators), so it would be not just a direct requirement of the regulations, but a voluntary decision of each and every stakeholder to implement responsible gambling instruments in everyday routine.

That’s why it is crucial to understand which variety of instruments responsible gambling can offer for players, regulators and operators all over the world. Mostly all key responsible gambling instruments can be conditionally divided into the following groups based on the purpose of using a particular responsible gambling instrument (the RG Instruments):

  • instruments for information and prevention;
  • harm reduction and response instruments;
  • capacity of the health care system.

Below we will describe each group of RG Instruments.


Among this group we can highlight the following key RG Instruments:

  1. Game pauses. When using this instrument the player cannot make a bet within a short period of time: a day, a week, a month or other. Important to note that this instrument is usually introduced at the product level of an operator, and not via regulatory requirements.
  2. Financial limits. Operators must ensure that it is impossible to perform an action limited by an established limit until the limit expires. The procedure for changing and removing limits is different depending on the particular operator’s policies. Sometimes, for example, a player needs to send an application, and 24 hours after its creation, re-confirm it. Thus, the player confirms that his intention to change and / or remove the limit has not changed.
  3. Messages to gamble responsibly. In mostly all developed jurisdictions (for example, both in the UK and Malta), operators post information about existing RG Instruments either within land-based gambling establishments (and) or on their website. To add to that, in certain countries each marketing message should be accompanied by the message stating about harm that may be caused by gambling.
  4. Reality checks. These are notifications that appear at a certain frequency, which the player configures on his own in his personal account. They have a viable effect on the player from a psychological perspective by sobering him up and returning him to the real world. Such notifications may contain variety of information such as for instance – length of current gaming session, information of current amount of funds spent by the player and other.


Among this group we can highlight the following key RG Instruments:

Self-exclusion. This instrument can be of two types:

  1. Self-exclusion for a specific period of time. The player can limit himself to a specific period of time: a year, 5 years. This instrument is used by players with pre-existing problems with gambling addiction, as well as in critical situations, when a player realizes that his passion is starting to create problems for him and those around him.
  2. Self-exclusion with no time limit. The most serious measure, which is used in case of harm to the public, for example, theft of property of third parties to participate in a game of chance. The player (or his close relatives, but only in court) has the right to deprive himself of the opportunity to participate in gambling forever with a separately established procedure for revoking such self-exclusion (for example, after 5 / 10 years by filing an application for revoking self-exclusion).

Limitation of marketing. In most countries where the gambling business is a regulated, there are restrictions on the advertising of the gambling. 

However, in a number of countries there is a statutory obligation for operators not to direct their marketing communications to persons who do not have the right to participate in gambling (for example, self-excluded persons, persons declared legally incompetent, minors).

Testing players for gambling addiction. Testing for signs of gambling addiction can be carried out according to the DSM-5 guidelines (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

The player is asked to answer a series of questions, and the test results indicate how prone the client is to addictions and, based on this, a personalized set of self-restraint tools is offered, based on those used by the organizer of gambling.


Creation and support of hot lines for players who are faced with the problem of gambling addiction.

In fact, it serves as a one stop shop service for players with potential problems, since this hotline can also sign up for therapy. As a rule, the phone number of “hot lines” can be included as mandatory information in the operator’s marketing communication.

In addition to the above, it is also important to understand that if a player already has a gambling addiction, the instruments of self-exclusion and self-control should not end with the capabilities of the operator. That being said, research plays an important role in the fight against gambling addiction, allowing us to assess how common the problem is, which people are at risk, as well as to track effective methods used to prevent and treat addiction.

For example, in the UK, NatCen Social Research regularly conducts research in this area, and also collects reports on the number of gambling addicts by age, gender and employment status.

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