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Can Operators Prevent Problem Gambling?

Kindred Group, one of the biggest and most influential iGaming companies, made an important announcement in February 2021. It presented the Journey Towards Zero strategy. The main goal of the strategy is to reduce the revenue from harmful gambling to zero by 2023. In April, the company published the first results. Frankly, looking at them makes you think Kindred is the best and most efficient company there is. The numbers show a 0.4% drop in revenue from problem gambling. They also indicate the safe gaming measures suggested by the platform have been accepted by customers. From these published numbers, it seems the Kindred strategy is all unicorns and rainbows, with some glitter on top. But is everything as nice and bright as it seems? I don’t think so!

Good PR Presented as Social Responsibility

Before I even start, allow me to say I have nothing against Kindred Group, nor do I think it is falsifying data in any way. What I do believe is that it is slightly taking advantage of the current media frenzy about problem gambling. Obviously, the company has some numbers that can help it get an even better reputation. Thanks to its latest strategy, it is being socially responsible. So many buzzwords! I’m not blaming Kindred for it. If I was running a company and had the same results, I would be sending press releases like crazy. Since I’m not, I’ll just comment on Kindred’s. Sorry, guys!

One of the main objectives of Kindred’s latest report is the decrease in revenue made from problem gamblers in just one quarter. The revenue went from 4.3% to 3.9% in just three months, so considering how low these numbers already are, the drop is truly significant. I have no issue with those numbers, as they are truly worth admiring. I have a problem with the way they are represented to the public. An inexperienced eye, unused to press releases, might not notice that these numbers are just good PR, with no real effect. 

Kindred’s CEO Henrik Tjärnström indirectly stated that the brand helped reduce levels of problem gambling in society. However, that is not necessarily the truth. If Kindred really had a cure for problem gamers, I hope it would be fair enough to share it with the world. 

Kindred Group Responsible Gaming Initiative

Context and Background are More Important Than Numbers

Despite its best PR efforts, Kindred’s data simply don’t convince me these guys helped fight problem gambling. If anything, I’ll admit the company managed to polish some of its stats. Unfortunately, gambling addiction is a much bigger and more complex problem. A revenue drop with one company doesn’t mean a thing. For instance, the fact that Kindred experienced the drop, doesn’t mean the company solved the gambling problem (no matter how hard it tries to sound like it did). Purposely or not, the gaming giant decided to avoid any background and more detailed data about its research. 

We don’t know if most problematic gamblers simply left Kindred brands and decided to play somewhere else. Or maybe they remained partially loyal and split the money between Kindred brands and a new casino that doesn’t bother them with messages. 

Kindred also boasts that its customers are showing more signs of responsible behavior after seeing warning messages. But are they? Sure, they could be playing far less on Kindred platforms, but that doesn’t mean they gamble less frequently or more responsibly. It is very possible they took their money elsewhere and continued with the same irresponsible behavior. In this case, I will quote my statistics professor who claimed statistics are sometimes just a correct sum of completely incorrect data that can be interpreted as we like. Or to be more precise - without context, the data Kindred provided don’t mean a thing. It could be that Kindred really helped reduce the number of gambling addicts in the general population, but somehow I doubt that. 

How Responsible Companies Should Be? 

Kindred’s strategy has my approval, even if I don’t like how it handles the data. I am all for safe gaming and responsible gambling. Even so, I can’t help but wonder how responsible companies really should be? Also, are they the only ones who should focus on implementing encouraging practices, tools, and strategies? One thing I know is that a gambler who gets tired of warnings will simply find another brand to join. Initiatives like Journey Towards Zero will help some, but not everyone. 

Yet, even if they help just a handful of people, I think they are worth it. Having said that, they are certainly most helpful for companies who can say they did their best and on their own, without pressure imposed by authorities. Thanks to them, brands can call themselves socially responsible. Good strategies build good casinos, and Kindred definitely understands that.

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Journey Towards Zero can have a major impact on the industry, but only if it provides us with more context in the future. Let’s hope it will be so successful it not only reduces revenue from problem gaming to 0% but truly pushes people in the right direction. I still feel obliged to say I will never trash-talk Kindred, even if it fails to reach the magical number of zero. Why? Somehow, we became so used to expecting gambling businesses to do all the hard work when it comes to problem gambling. While the numbers presented may be a nice PR stunt, they certainly show more willingness and dedication than those provided by authorities. We all know most European regulatory agencies operate under “ban-limit-block” principles, and there is little effort to make sure gamblers enjoy their favorite pastime in a safe manner. But that is a whole other topic. 

This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.

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Borina Kopcic Pandur
Borina Kopcic PandurUpdated: 18 May 2021
Borina's gaming journey started somewhat unexpectedly in the autumn of 2015 when she decided to quit her career as a beauty editor in one of the most renowned Croatian media compan...

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