As Denzel Washington once said, “Money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s a heck of a down payment though.” Sure, money cannot buy happiness, but neither can poverty! People all over the world are enticed by the prospect of making quick and easy money. This opportunistic behavior has driven the evolution of casino gaming. In the yesteryears, casinos were considered risky; a player who won a lot could get conned and lose all he had. What if a player won, but the folks refused to pay him/her their due or paid him less than what he won? Sounds risky, doesn’t it! Despite these risks, the gaming industry is booming! Are these risks still a factor today?
Understanding this requires us to know the concept of regulated and unregulated markets and figure out how it affects the development cycle of games.
Regulated and unregulated casino gaming markets
As a casino player in a virtually connected world, you could, for example, be in a small, quaint town in Spain playing an online casino game with its server in an unregulated country. Everything is fine if you are wagering and not winning huge amounts. Now imagine you hit the jackpot and are feeling on top of the world. Hold on. You don’t have the money in your account yet. Considering the platform has a game wallet, and the winning amount is credited to your in-game wallet in the game currency, can you cash it out into real?
While you were wagering real hard-earned cash, you cannot take back what is rightfully yours, which could be because of poor connection, unusual wait times, banking issues, or any other reason under the sun. The example quoted above is a typical scenario of playing lucrative games with unreal promotions and misleading ads. Such casino operators thrive in unregulated markets and prey on victims such as you and me, who might not understand this industry well enough.
Now, imagine you are a novice driver, and you want to buy a car. Would you invest in an unbranded car with unclear details about its specifications and safety measures? Or would you go for a branded car from a trusted manufacturer? We presume it would be the latter. It is the same situation when players look to put their hard-earned money on stake into casino games online for entertainment. Player retention is the key to a good casino gaming business and to ensure a healthy footfall. Therefore, good software providers and operators always vouch for the regulated markets.
They are called “regulated” because they are under strict observation from not-for-profit govt organizations. Regulated markets ensure that the games allowed in their country follow the basic norms that ensure safety to the players, their money and especially, to the underage folks below 18 or 21 who should not be exposed to such games. A few examples of such regulated markets are UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission), MGA (Malta Gaming Authority), NJ DGE (New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement), etc.
Compliance testing in regulated markets
As a software developer, how would you ensure that the product development (the platform or the game itself), follows these norms? Providers who supply games to these operators must go through stringent rounds of compliance testing. This is done by an ATF (Accredited Testing Facility), which is recognized by the compliance authorities.
- These ATFs then certify that the games are indeed safe and follow all safety norms.
- Once licensed by an ATF, the provider/operator can get the license. As a mandatory requirement, the licensing authority’s logo at the page footer will authenticate the license with a hyperlink to the authority’s website.
- Some of the ATFs are BMM, GLI Labs, etc.
An example of compliance regulation is the Return to player (RTP) percentage, which is advertised on the game and must be followed strictly; the RTP advertised on “free to play games” must be identical to the RTPs mentioned w.r.t the game, played with real money, and for the same title. As you can see, in regulated casino gaming markets, there will hardly be any misleading advertisements, and you have a chance to get what you win.
Does that mean a player can go on a gaming spree in a regulated market just because the games are fair and square?
Player protection in regulated markets
The other main job of these compliance authorities is player protection. This means all the ATF license holders keep a tab on a player’s gaming activity. The developers must know about these measures and need to implement them into the game system. Failure in enforcing such measures will not only delay go-live plans but also attract penalties.
Game operators need to ensure that the system automatically analyzes player behavior. If it seems like a player is tipping over to casino gaming addiction, they need to halt the player’s activities and ensure that they get their wits right. These measures are well-researched and must be strictly adhered to. Any non-compliance attracts severe penalties for the operators. For example, a game window cannot ever hide the real time displayed on the screen; even if it does so, the game window will need to show a time. The game needs to tell the player in regular intervals how long they have played, how much they have staked, and how much they have lost. Above certain thresholds, the system needs to ask a player for a cooldown.
Let us see a live case of how this works:
Using analytics, it was observed, that a man who was playing a game on an operator’s website won a jackpot. Instead of being happy and moving on with the lucky cash, the player decided to reinvest the entire amount immediately. The software caught this as unusual behavior and stopped the player’s gameplay. Further, the software advised the player to go for anti-gambling addiction sessions which are freely available from many companies like Gamcare, Gamblersanonymous, Gambling therapy, etc. This entire process is what is recommended by compliance authorities and is a part of responsible gaming measures.
Every operator must have a page on its website that talks about the responsible gaming measures it takes. Some are system-controlled, while some other controls are offered to the players to be used at their discretion. For example, session limits, spending limits, deposit limits, etc. are open to players to set a numeric value for the maximum amount of money a player can spend/deposit in varying time periods, such as daily, monthly, etc. or decide the amount of time they would wish to spend on the website.
These norms are constantly revised. Because of the pandemic, there was a significant footfall in the online realm of casino gaming. Many rules and regulations were revised to ensure player protection measures were robust and up-to-date. There are always one or two black sheep, who are looking to launder black money to white through these licensed portals. But such transactions are also monitored by stringent AML (Anti-Money Laundering) measures – another key requirement that authorities have mandated casino operators to have in their products. Providers and operators alike must be aware of these facets.
Nagarro and responsible gaming
At Nagarro, our developers, testers, and architects are domain trained and well-read in such market-specific compliance requirements. We bring them into effect from the very first blocks of development. This helps build better trust in the application as we add our technical expertise to the required business/market requirements from a compliance perspective. We also understand that these requirements vary on the type of license require. For example, a B2C will have more stringent AML (Anti-Money Laundering) norms in place, whereas a B2B will need to focus more on the elements of the game in design.
So, the next time you are on the web and foraging through the unending list of websites/operators displaying lucrative advertisements about their games which are too good to be true, just ensure they:
- have a responsible gaming page with measures in place,
- have a license from a recognized gambling authority,
- have responsible gaming features at your disposal.
Always insist on doing business with a trusted provider/operator and look for regulated markets.
However, for the technical aspects, our gaming experts, armed with the right knowledge for this domain, are here to take care of everything for you. Interested? Check out our offerings in gaming and entertainment and get in touch with us!