QUI 23 DE JANEIRO DE 2020 - 17:02hs.
Percy Wilman, Special Counsel – Latam at Betgenius

Brazil must learn from Europe’s customer protection mistakes

Consumer protection was hot on the agenda at the 2019 edition of Brazil Gaming Congress last month. In an exclusive interview for Games Magazine Brazil, Percy Wilman, Special Counsel – Latam at Betgenius, discusses how the Brazilian industry can set the standard for the rest of the region to follow. “Brazil has an opportunity to learn from European markets and set the standard for effective customer protections from day-one”, says Wilman.

At the Brazilian Gaming Congress in June, the importance of getting player protection policy right was a subject matter everyone unanimously agreed upon. Those attending the event in Sao Paulo recognised that with the country’s sports betting market on the cusp of legalisation there is a responsibility to create an environment which safeguards vulnerable demographics like minors and those susceptible to addiction.

It was clear for all to see that the Brazilian industry has a crucial window of opportunity to garner positive public perception nationally – a feat that has evaded many of its European counterparts in recent times.

Advertising in sport

Over the last 18 months, certain European markets have faced major public and regulatory backlash. Gambling advertising has become an issue in mainstream politics in the likes of the UK, Italy and Spain.

Betting and gaming brands have long harnessed sports to promote their name. The much-cited UK example is striking: 60% of teams in the two top professional football leagues are sponsored by gambling firms. And in Brazil, where professional football clubs have already announced new iGaming shirt sponsors since sports betting was signed into law, shirt sponsorship is set to be big business.

But advertising in sport is by no means limited to shirt sponsorships, it extends to pitchside advertising boards in stadiums and ads during TV coverage, too. While huge marketing opportunities for brands, the market should heed the lesson learned in Italy, where over-exposure around football games – where much of the audience is under 18 – has led to a complete ban on betting-related football sponsorship.

If this kind of advertising is not policed by those at the heart of the industry itself, then the Brazilian sector risks the same kind of backlash. When rolling out these sponsorships and campaigns, operators must ask themselves: Are they doing enough to protect vulnerable consumers and indeed the reputation of the industry?

Policing the online world

According to industry consultancy firm Regulus Partners, gambling companies spend five times more online than they do on TV marketing. Online is where the modern sports fan lives – with constant news updates, stats and live game updates, digital is a hugely effective channel for customer acquisition and retention.

But once again, there are lessons for Brazil to learn in this field. Given the sub-standard age verification required to sign-up to many social channels – the majority of websites don’t require any personal information at all – operators and their marketing agencies have a moral obligation to be responsible when buying inventory. That includes never running campaigns on mediums like Twitch and Steam where the audience is nearer 13 than 18, and avoiding content like cartoons and animals which might appeal to minors.

A trend emerging in Europe right now is influencer marketing. On their Instagram stories and Twitter profiles, celebrities with big followings promote iGaming sign-up offers and then earn a return with every conversion. And while the intention is not to explicitly target minors, reaching them is a by-product, and if the industry does not react quickly by self-regulating the tone and content of these advertisements, social media could become the latest form of advertising banned entirely.

Providing support to problem gamblers

Earlier this year, Spelinspektionen, the Swedish regulator, launched Spelpause.se, a national self-exclusion register through which individuals opt-out of receiving marketing messages from operators and are restricted from accessing gambling sites all together.

Sweden has led the way by employing such an initiative and they will no doubt be followed in the near future. But in wider regulated territories, like with alcohol and tobacco, gambling interaction is complemented by messages promoting responsibility. And in sportsbook and casino products in these territories, self-exclusion tools, like self-imposed deposit, loss and time limits, are now industry standard. This must be demanded of market entrants in a newly regulated Brazil.

Leading global operators including Paddy Power Betfair are dedicating time and resource into capabilities which enable them to flag and contact problem gamblers based on a set of behavioural triggers. We are also investing in these capabilities in our own Platform technology.

Those suffering with addiction deserve support. And as an industry, we’ve come some way in providing this but we’re by no means perfect and Brazil has an opportunity to learn from European markets and set the standard for effective customer protections from day-one.

Percy Wilman, Special Counsel – Latam at Betgenius

Source: Exclusive Games Magazine Brasil