16th Annual Responsible Gambling Academy: International experts meet in Vienna
15.05.2019 - Casinos Austria
Top speakers from Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and Austria were among guests hosted at the Casinos Austria/Austrian Lotteries Group player protection conference.
Player protection and addiction prevention were once again the focal point at the 16th Responsible Gambling Academy (RGA) held on May 14th, 2019. In her welcoming remarks, Director General Bettina Glatz-Kremsner emphasized the importance of Responsible Gaming for the Group, stressing that the event is a key component of employee training. “The RGA has long been extremely valuable to our Group,” she said, “and we are proud it has also become an indispensable event in the international gaming community.”
Since its inception, lectures offered during the RGA have contributed to numerous player protection measures implemented by the Group. These include various youth protection programs, or the online tool Mentor, which was developed by Dr. Mark Griffiths and his colleagues at Nottingham Trent University. The program gives the Group’s online customers the opportunity to assess and compare their gaming use in order to identify risks for problematic behavior.
This was the fifth time Dr. Mark Griffiths, an award-winning behavioral psychologist, presented at the RGA. This year, he explained a 6-point program that identifies gambling addiction. According to his research, the amount of time spent gambling is not the key factor for addictive behavior. Rather, it is the degree to which the effects of playing are negative to the player or their environment. Griffiths also provided insight into the terms gaming and gambling, noting that the lines are increasingly blurred. There are strong similarities due to factors such as quick rewards, reinforcement mechanisms, and social recognition.
On the subject of “Loot Boxes” – formerly treasure chests – that are built into video games, Griffiths explained that opinions are varied as to whether or not they should be considered gambling. “You spend money on a future event which has an uncertain outcome,” said Griffiths. “What people spend on Loot Boxes is comparable to that of slots, and therefore are indeed a form of gambling,” according to the expert.
Dr. Tobias Hayer from the University of Bremen, Germany, presented results of empirical studies on the effectiveness of individual player and youth protection measures. He recommended certain steps based on these studies as well as reducing availability—which includes both a reduction of the offer and an increase in the age requirement. He also suggests school-based prevention efforts, personalized feedback, and a mandatory Pre-Commitment system. “Staff training can influence player protection in the long term,” he noted, confirming the importance of continued responsible gaming training for employees mentioned by CEO Glatz-Kremsner at the beginning of the day.
Professor Dr. Michael Musalek, a specialist in psychiatry and neurology, spoke about the sensitive topic of classifying gambling addiction from a medical standpoint. Unfortunately, game dependence is often seen purely as an impulse control disorder. According to Dr. Musalek, this classification does not do justice to the complexity of the disease. Constant availability also necessitates a change in the forms of therapy. “The ultimate goal of treatment must be to regain a largely autonomous and joyous life,” he said. Dr. Musalek is the Medical Director of the Anton Proksch Institute and Director of the Institute for Social Aesthetics and Mental Health at Sigmund Freud Private University- Vienna and Berlin.
University of Ottawa guest speaker, Dr. Bradley Cousins, provided interesting insights into the complex process of scientific evaluation of player protection programs, and how these evaluations can provide practical benefits.
Presenting her work with young people was Megan Pengelly, Program Manager for Risk Minimization at GamCare in London. Because adolescents are often unaware of the dangers of gambling, GamCare develops projects and workshops for young people and those working with that age group to educate and provide tools for dealing with gambling. Additionally, GamCare researches youth gambling behavior in order to provide preventive solutions. GamCare is the central advice center for people with problem gambling in the United Kingdom.
“Age is an illusion” was the conclusion presented by Professor Dr. Michael Lehofer, Head of the Department of Psychiatry & Psychotherapy at the Landeskrankenhaus II in Graz. Professor Lehofer provided reflections of this multilayered topic during the course of his lecture. To be young, he asserts, is to be willing to develop an understanding that a person can live well without the things they thought they needed. When one learns from crises, there is almost nothing in the way of staying young.
Herbert Beck, Head of Responsible Gaming & Compliance at the Group, welcomed 245 attendees from Austrian research, consulting, and therapy institutions, as well as employees of the Group. Members of the regulatory community and international gambling providers also participated in this year’s RGA. For the second time, the event was a certified Green Event.
Peter Sidlo, Bettina Glatz-Kremsner, Bradley Cousins, Megan Pengelly, Michael Musalek, Mark Griffiths, Tobias Hayer, Herbert Beck
© Peter Svec
Responsible Gambling Academy 2019