Gambling and Responsible Gaming:
The Principals and Associates at Focal Research have worked cooperatively and collaboratively with various gambling stakeholders in Canada and abroad including gaming operators, gaming suppliers, manufacturers, regulators, public health organizations, NGO’s and government bodies creating a balanced and integrated understanding of market dynamics impacting gambling and responsible gaming.
Focal conducts specialized workshops, seminars and training programs for professional research interviewers, gaming industry and health personnel and is the lead developer of “A Healthy Bottom Line: Responsible Gaming Program ” and Healthy Choices: Straight Facts a series of gambling self-help, public health and social marketing materials. The Focal Team is also actively involved in evaluating responsible gambling program adjuncts.
Most recently, Focal has developed a new approach for measuring and tracking gambling impacts. This new approach differentiates between identification of gambling harm (e.g. negative consequences) and risk for developing harm (e.g., pre-harm risk) in order to accurately assess the impact of various stakeholder initiatives and interventions in mitigating or reducing individual and community impacts (FLAGS; FocaL Adults Gambling Screen and FYGRS; Focal Youth Gambling Risk Screen). The new measures are also specifically designed for use in identifying high-risk gambling behaviors in order to manage and assess impacts of responsible gaming, player tracking features and pre-commitment systems.
Focal conducted the first evaluations of pre-commitment and responsible gaming features (RGFs) on gambling machines setting international standards for current RG evaluation (e.g., pop-up messaging, clocks on the machine, voluntary versus mandatory limits).
The Focal team has used gambling tracking data in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Australia, and New Zealand to develop customized risk models, performance metrics and to evaluate system features. Over the past decade we have developed an extensive set of variables for use in building customized models and algorithms for detecting high-risk behaviours adpating this approach for application outside of slot machines including the identification of risk among ‘pokie’ machine users (egms), video lottery gamblers, table game players and most recently exploring sports betting and racing (e.g. horse, dogs) and on-line gaming. We are also developing complementary algorithms (ALeRT Algorithmic Risk Tracking) to identify other abnormal patterns of play including money laundering, misappropriation of funds (e.g., embezzlement) and cheating using both loyalty/player tracking data and product tracking data (e.g., machine level data).
We believe the integrity and transparency of our work in the area of gambling and responsible gaming research, in combination with meticulous standards for information confidentiality, data security, and privacy protection for our gaming clients provides added value by instilling confidence in project outcomes among all stakeholders.
Focal is a market leader in this evolving area of player tracking, gaming data-mining and database analysis, responsible gaming RG feature evaluation and identification of a broad range of high-risk gambling behaviour, Focal Research continues to set standards acting as independent consultants for terrestrial and online gaming clients as well as government agencies and other researchers.