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Ban gambling or let the market run free?

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And why the middle road is a better strategy.

For many, gambling is the harmless purchase of an occasional lottery ticket. And the majority of gamblers exercise good self-control, keeping even regular betting to a modest discretionary spend.

For others the picture is different. Those who are pre-disposed to addictive behaviours are easily drawn into gambling, sometimes with tragic consequences. Social harm caused by gambling can be extensive, and it’s estimated that, worldwide, addiction rates1 vary by country between 1.2% and 6.0% of the population.

Nor are the consequences just for individuals. Problem gambling distorts the flow of significant revenue, away from conventional economic activity into the coffers of a relatively small number of wealthy gambling operators.

How do different countries manage the problem?

Approaches differ. Most G20 countries (embracing two thirds of the world’s population and 80% of Gross World Product) have opted for varying degrees of regulation to support responsible gambling. Some countries have banned gambling completely. Reasons include religious observance and the practical need to reduce lost productivity.

A few countries have confusing laws. India is a case in point. When purely a matter of chance, gambling is illegal; when skill is involved, it will generally be lawful.  The courts have to decide which is which2. Additionally, the Indian legislation does not currently apply to online gambling platforms.

It’s an unsatisfactory state of affairs and, to coincide with the 2023 G20 summit in India,  the Indian government has been taken to task3 by  Felicia Wijkander of Seven Jackpots – a news and advisory website supporting the online gambling industry in India.

What happens when bans don’t work?

Banning gambling is never completely successful. Among other things, it drives it underground and into the arms of organised crime – think alcohol prohibition in the US in the 1920s.

Additionally, for casinos, ease of travel makes it simple to reach a gambling friendly jurisdiction. And ubiquitous smartphones mean that online gambling (where most addiction problems are manifest) is effectively impossible to police at the point of consumption.

A better solution – discrete and effective, protecting businesses and individuals.

Whatever the state of regulation, the key to successful implementation is in the hands of the gambling operators themselves. And identifying problem gamblers – actual or potential addicts – is at the heart of effective compliance.

Gambling platforms (especially those online) who collaborate to gather and share data are in the position to understand not just what their own clients are doing on their own platform, but what they are doing on other platforms too.

Transactions on one platform may not reveal much out of the ordinary. Matched with activity elsewhere they may indicate the behaviours of a problem gambler. Then action can be taken – to safeguard the customer, and to protect the business.

Introducing Compli from Essiell Compli

Such a global monitoring service may seem too good to be true, but at  Essiell Compli, our Compli suite of services has been designed to do exactly this.

With Compli, always on transaction monitoring works to analyse individual behaviours and identify different levels of concern; to monitor further, for example, or take specific action. Compli is cloud-based, functions globally on AWS, and uses our own Global Person concept to build individual profiles from multiple databases. It delivers an unrivalled richness and accuracy of data – exactly what is required to ensure compliance and deliver effective social responsibility at the corporate level.

By Bjorn Larsson, Chairman of Essiell Compli.

If you’d like to find out more about how Essiell Compli and Compli can help identify problem gambling and protect businesses, communities, and families, get in touch via our website , www.essiell-compli.com ,  or by email to enquiries@essiell-compli.com   

 1 Gambling Addiction Statistics & Facts 2023, QuitGamble.com

2 Is Gambling Legal in India? Here’s all you Need to Know

3 G20 Summit: Casino industry expert points to the elephant in the room and India’s hosting the 2023 g20, and there’s a gambling elephant in the room

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