The purpose of this paper is twofold. On one hand, it serves to acquaint a wider public on what Responsible Gaming (RG) is as a concept and what are some common tools and methods it entails. On the other hand, we aim to illustrate the pragmatic benefits of an efficient RG policy to real-money gamers and the community at large.
More specifically, we will provide specific examples of how KTO goes above and beyond legal requirements and sees its role in setting higher industry standards for a safer gaming experience.
What Is Responsible Gaming?
Responsible gaming, otherwise known as safe gambling, is an initiative for social responsibility promoted by leading gaming industry actors. It aims to promote higher standards of fairness and integrity that go beyond formal licensing and regulation requirements, or even legal norms in a given country.
Despite the competitiveness of the online gaming sector, it is the operators themselves that voluntarily come together and aspire to establish gaming environments that are safe, transparent and ethical. RG guidelines extend to service providers and advertising standards.
Above all, RG policies seek to increase awareness of potential harms when playing for money. Additionally, operators and dedicated NGOs develop safe-gaming tools and set up assistance programs. The gaming industry is in charge of the environments and conditions (virtual or land-based) but adult players hold the key to all related factors on a personal level.
An effective Responsible Gaming policy:
- – Protects minors and vulnerable users (e.g., problem gamers);
- – Ensures a safer gaming environment through RG tools that empower players;
- – Contributes to greater industry transparency through verified providers (e.g., game mechanics, payments), licenses and audits by authorities and consumer groups.
With that in mind, it is easy to understand why legitimate and licensed iGaming companies promote responsible gaming. It helps them distinguish themselves from unregulated sites and apps and demonstrate a commitment to fair and ethical gaming practices.
Do We Really Need a Responsible Gaming Policy?
As we have noted previously, Brazil has quickly evolved into the 5th largest gaming market globally. The mobile-first habits of today’s society amplify the nation’s passion for online sports betting and casino games.
An international survey has revealed that two thirds of online gamers are more likely to play games that are built and presented in a socially responsible manner.
Naturally, this study excludes unlicensed and illegal operators from consideration. Those that conform to regulations, like KTO, face greater scrutiny regardless of their stand on RG. First and foremost, online sports betting and casino sites need to provide:
- – Robust user verification mechanisms;
- – Know Your Customer protocols (KYC); and
- – Measures to prevent fraud and money laundering.
Most of these are required by state or national laws anyway. However, as we explained, operators want to establish a greater level of trustworthiness. Gamers, on the other hand, demand fair game mechanics and honest monetary transactions, above all.
When we dig deeper, there are more sensitive topics and reasons for adopting an RG policy. The debate about problem gaming and potential addiction comes back cyclically but gaming industry stakeholders have done much since the turn of the century to address the issue, particularly in mature markets.
Problem gaming is a medical condition that is classified as a disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO). It often stems from personal predispositions and the WHO testifies that “only a small portion” of online gamers are affected. Groundbreaking progress has come from the fact that prevention protocols have been elaborated, including advanced online tools. Despite awareness and alertness, when it affects players, treatment programs are also available by qualified health professionals.
One thing needs to be made clearer: RG policies are often misinterpreted as needing to target those who already manifest problem gaming behavior, research has shown. Quite the contrary – RG awareness is a fundamental need for all gamers. Those ignoring or not identifying themselves as vulnerable users might be more likely to disregard RG advice and tools (or not seek them) if they are not readily available.
RG principles are applicable to a much wider range of gaming – be it for money or time spent watching or playing. Moreover, they are not only useful for games of chance – skill, casual and any other related type of entertainment needs a responsible approach and safe gaming environment.
All of the above reasons make it even more important to appreciate and promote responsible gaming initiatives across the entire business vertical and gamer communities, across all demographics. Because safer gaming also means a more enjoyable experience for all players.
Practical Benefits of a Responsible Gaming Policy
A well-structured responsible gaming policy can deliver consistent positive impacts on players and the community.
- – Player onboarding and KYC procedures ensure the protection of minors, besides regulation compliance;
- – Continuous monitoring enables operators to evaluate the user lifecycle and deliver warnings, assistance and relevant tools to vulnerable players;
- – Fraud protection backend and service providers help prevent account takeovers, bonus abuse, any fraudulent or criminal attempts;
- – Standard and anonymous RG tools empower the user to make decisions, exclude themselves or seek professional assistance;
- – Transparency of game mechanics, Returns to Player, Terms and Conditions, Ethical codes of conduct and third-party relations (authorities, license providers, commercial partners) build a foundation of trust and fairness.
Read on to discover the specific RG tools we have in place.
Looking Beyond Licensing Requirements
KTO’s license is regulated by the Ministry of Finance of Curaçao. Both the online and land-based gaming industries are overseen by the Curaçao Gaming Control Board, which issues master licenses, approved thereafter by the Minister of Justice.
This way, anti-money laundering, identity protection and financial security standards are set high from the beginning. Top-down requirements are handled then by the Master License Holder – Curaçao eGaming – that ensures compliance with regulation and legislation, including personal protection measures and RG standards.
Specifically, the Code of Conduct Responsible Gaming (CCRG) has been updated in 2022. It formally requires operators to offer “self–exclusion and prevention of gambling addiction” through “transparent and public” policies for end users. Operators are held responsible for the proper execution of these policies, in line with the CCRG, and are subject to investigation of potential risks.
KTO takes great care to ensure compliance with regulations and applicable laws. What is more, the platform asks for double confirmation on many occasions – ID checks include actual proof of address and a selfie shot, besides documents. As far as RG tools go, the site allows multiple channels for the most common settings – e.g., limits can be chosen in one’s own account or by reaching to customer service.
Furthermore, most reputable operators believe that the basis of a successful RG policy lies in creating greater awareness among users, a fundamental step to understanding any available tools.
This is why some of the most prominent international iGaming companies have joined forces in establishing the Brazilian Institute of Responsible Gaming (IBJR). The collaboration puts emphasis on sustainable market development and the debate around a safe regulatory environment, following Law 13.756/18.
KTO Group is a proud founding member of the RG Institute. What is more, the Country Manager of KTO Brazil, Cássio Filter – a long-term advocate of operator transparency as the way to gain the trust of the gamer community – has taken the role of Communications Director of the IBJR. This emphasizes the conviction that educating customers is a natural function of dependable operators.
An Overview of the Most Effective Digital RG Tools
A series of stringent identity checks ensure that the reputable gaming platforms keep children off their sites. And those are easy to comprehend and justify under any legal system, jurisdiction or regulatory climate – irrespective of the extent of market liberalization, enabling minors to gamble is a criminal offense. It is also a cornerstone of KYC protocols implemented by regulated operators.
What we need to examine are the top RG tools deployed by the iGaming industry. These are widely used, popular among both players and operators, and have been proven highly effective.
Most platforms begin with the advice to play for entertainment only – put simply, for fun – and never for expectations of financial gain. Additionally, players are reminded to wager only as much as they can afford to lose (read on for deposit and wagering limits).
Still, besides sound advice – exposed plainly and repeatedly in dedicated RG sections – operators tend to use most of the RG tools shown below:
Revealing how games work, returns to players (RTP), providing advice on setting limits and using games for fun places the emphasis on free choice and adult consumers’ behavior. Where these are not enough, there are digital tools to keep one’s passions and urges in check.
Setting deposit and spending limits works in a straightforward manner. Amounts, timeframes and conditions are selected by the player via pre-set parameters. Time limits also impact gaming session duration, with some operators and games allowing players to proceed but with repetitive and persistent signals flashing throughout.
Possibly the most commonly used RG tools are the self-exclusions and time-outs of various nature and duration. These are typically temporary and reversible breaks from gambling that are employed by players who recognize the potential harm that their behavior may cause. They agree formally to be blocked for a certain amount of time from accessing the site, app or a particular game. Some jurisdictions even have multi-operator agreements to cover the entire national market, e.g., GAMSTOP in the UK.
Indefinite self-exclusions do not equate to simple account deletion. With the same credentials – ID, national registration number and financial details – a player would not be able to open another account with the same operator. That is why account closures are also an option.
In most mature markets, help lines have proven important for a healthy gaming community. Knowing where to seek advice, help and professional assistance provides players with valuable alternatives in case they are unable to assess their own situation or need an unbiased perspective of their gaming patterns.
What KTO Offers in Terms of Responsible Gaming Support
Above all, a sound Responsible Gaming policy is intended to prevent, address and explain problem gambling and protect vulnerable players. However, we see much value in practices which promote responsible advertising, support sports integrity, inhibit money laundering and other criminal activities which can undermine a nation’s real-money gaming culture.
Our view on positive RG spillover effects is shared in KTO’s responsible gaming policy. We are dedicated to providing our customers with an enjoyable gaming experience while acknowledging potential problems some individuals might face. Our support to players and endorsement for Responsible Gaming practices goes beyond subjective factors, enabling players to control their gameplay or reach out to us for counsel.
Identity verification is the first step and always a crucial one. It helps us ensure that all KTO players are of legal age. We request a government-issued identification or passport to verify age and identity. Such details are legally required, only used for identity verification and to improve the safety of both players and us as an operator.
In addition, we may ask for proof of address via an alternative document or official bill. If doubts arise, players may be asked for a selfie, demonstrating they are the adult person declared at the time of registration.
KTO believes in empowering its customers to actively manage their gaming accounts. Therefore, we provide the following range of RG tools:
Self-Assessment – To determine if users need to alter their gambling habits or seek support, we recommend completing the NODS Self-Assessment. This tool can provide assistance in evaluating gaming behavior.
Discreet and professional help – There are numerous organizations that provide help for those struggling with gambling addiction. In case players (or their loved ones) think they may be at risk of problem gaming or addiction we recommend contacting the “international fellowship” of Gamblers Anonymous.
Deposit Limits – Players can manage their finances better by implementing deposit limits, which restrict the amount they can deposit on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. These limits can be adjusted upon request, either by decreasing, increasing, or removing them altogether.
If players choose to increase or remove the deposit limits, there will be a 7-day waiting period before the changes take effect. However, if they decide to lower deposit limits, the changes will apply immediately. In addition to account settings, deposit limits can be established by contacting the KTO Customer Service desk.
Taking a Break – We recognize that customers’ personal and financial circumstances may change, and they may need to take a short break from gambling. At KTO, users can request a break period for any duration they prefer.
After receiving a request, we will take appropriate measures to block all accounts with KTO-managed brands until the break period is over. It’s important to note that upon the expiration of the break period, accounts automatically reactivate. However, if players wish, they can request KTO to review their account for possible reactivation before the break period ends. If approved, access to the account will be granted after a 7-day cooling-off period.
To initiate a short break from gambling, users need to simply log into their account, access your profile, and click on the “Time-Out” option.
Self-Exclusion – If gambling ceases to be a form of entertainment and starts becoming problematic, it’s crucial to take a break. To help with that, we offer a self-exclusion option, which prevents players from accessing our services or any other brands managed by us.
The process of self-exclusion is simple and can be initiated within a user account. Once self-excluded, customers will not be able to access our website or any other brands within the KTO Group. We notify and settle any remaining account balance and refer them to appropriate support organizations.
For greater effect, we suggest users activate self-exclusion options on any other iGaming websites where they may have accounts. This additional step can help them take control of their gambling habits and promote responsible gaming.
Of course, KTO retains the authority to restrict access for individuals we suspect of having gambling issues.
And finally, it is always useful to remember that in case our customers cannot set up the above features in their account for some reason – be those limits, exclusion or even account deletion – they can always contact our support desk via live chat or email at [email protected]. They will assist them with any such request.
Quality Providers Matter
We already established the connection between responsibility in iGaming and related practices in marketing, payments and technical safety and security. Naturally, many of these services are handled by external providers – some operating on a global scale, providing system stability; others with more local market knowledge and consumer expertise.
The perception of reliability goes hand in hand with a safer (and even speedier) consumer experience. Safety is fundamental for building trust in real-money gaming, and as one of the fastest-growing tech segments, tech service professionals turn their attention to newly regulated markets such as Brazil.
KTO collaborates with first-rate providers in that area, such as Combate a Fraude (CAF). They place emphasis on identity verification that eliminates a series of critical risks and let us handle the exciting part of the gaming experience.
From user onboarding to ID verification, they combine facematch, automated biometrics and manual verification to avoid identity misrepresentation. Next, efforts turn to fraud prevention via email, registered biometrics and customizable data confirmation. These safety protocols result in efficient account takeover prevention.
The same rigorous checks are available for third-party commercial verification, known as Know-Your-Business (KYB).
The quality of cutting-edge technology and safety procedures is presented in a dedicated client presentation about the way KTO ensures a safe and fair gaming environment.
In brief, CAF recognises the challenges KTO faces as a global leader in online sports betting and casino entertainment. After 17 years in the industry, the Brazilian market expansion posed new opportunities but also required superior solutions in fraud prevention and user identification.
Major focus was dedicated to preventing minors from accessing the platform, multiple account creation and bonus abuse. Automated solutions provided links between CPF checks (the Individual Taxpayer Registration) with the Federal Revenue database. Other solutions targeted advertising fraud as a meaningful dimension of safety and responsibility.
These are only some examples of the efforts KTO puts into delivering a fair and transparent gaming platform. Above all, we act with the belief that the imminent regulation of the market will only bring more stability and trust in player-operator relations.
We will also present a study on payment and game providers in upcoming installments of our research series.
Balancing Operator Due Care and Personal Choice
In today’s dynamic online gaming market, there is a delicate balance between personal responsibility and operator due care. It’s crucial for both sides to play their role in ensuring responsible gambling practices.
Some of the best practices come straight from our referent licensing authority, the Gaming Control Board of Curaçao (GCB). To address the challenge of problem gambling, it coordinated the efforts of specialists from diverse fields, including NGOs that are active RG advocates like Fundashon pa Maneho di Adikshon (FMA) and Fundashon pa Konsumidó (FK), the national Government and Parliament, gaming industry stakeholders, media, educational institutions, mental health professionals and counselors.
GCB and FMA have had a Cooperation Protocol for more than a decade, focusing on implementing and improving Self-Exclusion Programs as required by RG Guidelines for casino and sportsbook operators. Detailed policies include combating and preventing gambling addiction, training programs for casino staff and delivering awareness programs for the public at large. The FMA has also developed dedicated treatment and counseling for self-excluded individuals, as well as joint research efforts with local universities to study the origin and prevention of problem and addictive gambling.
Ultimately, however, responsible gambling practices entail a shared responsibility between the player and the operator. Players should take responsibility for their actions and recognize the need to seek help when necessary. On the other hand, operators must promote responsible gambling practices and protect their customers from harm. Together, they can create a secure and enjoyable gaming environment for everyone involved.
Do Responsible Gaming Policies Actually Work
At KTO, we can safely say that players act in line with expectations and seek RG tools and support as much as their counterparts in well-established gaming markets.
We have a total of 2.5% of users who have actively used the most common break tools:
- – 2.1% are currently self-excluded or have closed their account;
- – 0.4% have requested a time-out period.
Industry experts quote similar shares in mature markets like Sweden (where 0.5% have gambling problems and 1-3% have “some risk”) or Canada (0.7% high-risk/problem gamblers and 2.6% moderate-risk players).
At KTO, the most frequently selected self-exclusion period is “indefinite”. The second most-common is 6 months. Evidently, gamers want to gain a realistic perspective of their habits after having spent a substantial amount of time away from the site.
An in-depth look at industry studies also confirm that the global majority of players practice safe gambling, whether they are aware of formal definitions or not. Most are also aware that real-money games could still lead to harm, binge gambling or loss of self-control, especially for inexperienced players. Gambling addiction is recognized as a serious condition that can have long-lasting effects on the player, their families, colleagues, and the wider community.
Fortunately, there is also a growing body of research on RG policies aimed at combating problem gaming and gambling addiction. Studies have found that low-risk players more often set spending limits in advance, yet even this tool, proven as highly efficient, appears “underused”.
Research into self-exclusion programs from France revealed that a week-long cool-off period did not have an immediate effect on player behavior. Still, it brought tangible long-term positive impacts on player habits.
Casual and moderate-risk players generally report positive experiences with RG tools, including less annoyance. Even higher-risk players have given mostly positive feedback on subsequent gambling sessions, including a decrease in spending.
Non-problem players have the lowest abandonment rates due to RG tool “overexposure” (5.2%), while problem and vulnerable users, expectedly, had rates as high as 25.9%. This, however, confirms exactly the logic of maintaining RG tools in their wide scope, accessible design and user-friendly implementation. The large majority of players – recreational ones – are not disturbed anyway.
Operator-provided behavioral tracking also stresses the importance of personalized feedback to players (even if automated) in combination with limit setting, pop-up messages and self-exclusion options. Outcomes are always particularly encouraging on gaming time and spending.
And finally, according to a 2020 online survey, almost all players are aware of Terms and Conditions (T&C) yet they rarely actually read them. Still:
- – Spending limits are the most used RG tool overall;
- – The 18-34 age group is the most likely to self-exclude;
- – Younger online gamblers are more likely to utilize any RG tools.
KTO Believes in Responsible Gaming as Only Path to Safe Fun
Emerging gaming markets, like Brazil, can learn from the success of regulated markets when it comes to responsible gaming practices. Besides the online gaming industry, Government agencies and regulators also need to step in. Public RG strategies should be developed and promoted, focusing on the protection of minors, online fraud and seriously addressing problem gaming.
Effective RG policies create risk awareness, deliver safer and fairer games, and provide support services to those in need. Best practices include setting up exclusion programs, time and spending limits, as well as counseling and treatment options.
We at KTO are not alone in this campaign, many other reputable operators employ RG tools and policies. However, a national RG strategy needs to lie at the foundation of any upcoming regulatory guidelines. This is the sustainable way to create a safe gaming environment for all Brazilians, just as in other rapidly developing gaming markets.
Such framework regulations can ensure the integrity and legitimacy of domestic online gaming operations. They can also help generate the necessary public funding for authorities to monitor and control the market.