Technology & Responsible Gambling – Q&A with Rob Hoskin

Rob Hoskin on how technology is helping to promote responsible gambling

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what you were doing before joining Entain?

I joined Entain (then PartyGaming) in 2005, prior to the merger with bwin Interactive Entertainment AG in March 2011 to form digital entertainment plc. I started as Group Company Secretary & Group Director overseeing all corporate, legal and secretarial matters.

When GVC Holdings acquired in February 2016, I took on a senior executive role with the combined GVC Group as Company Secretary, also heading up the internal legal, compliance and regulatory affairs departments. I’ve been Chief Governance Officer at Entain since January 2021.

Do operators have a responsibility to protect those who engage in betting and gaming, and especially those who are considered high risk

Absolutely. The overwhelming majority of people who bet, and by the overwhelming majority I mean 99% plus, celebrate wins with joy, and losses with a rueful smile. They bet when they feel like it – often as one part of a social and sport-loving lifestyle

Official figures from the Gambling Commission, released in March 2022, found that the overall problem gambling rate actually fell from 0.3% to 0.2%. This is by no means coincidental. We’ve been working tirelessly for a number of years to create a system which spots signs of harm, intervenes with customers and stops those on a harmful trajectory of play. We have developed proprietary technology such as ARC, through which we have significantly extended behavioural indicators used to identify players potentially at risk, providing unprecedented safeguards for customers of all our online sports betting and gaming brands by minimising problems before they arise

However, one problem gambler will always be one too many. Despite the positive trends, none of it minimises the extreme seriousness with which we view problem gambling. Change needs to happen and, as an industry, we have to do our utmost to help people who find it hard to bet safely.

How can technology and AI help protect those who are at risk of problem gambling?

Through the application of sophisticated analytics, behavioural indicators, and data science, we can rapidly and effectively identify risks in player behaviour to intervene before a problem develops. Without the availability of such technology, a personalised approach to player protection wouldn’t be possible.
Our Advanced Responsibility & Care programme (ARC) is an example of this personalised player protection approach. Using the latest innovative technology, we are able to identify risks rapidly and effectively in player behaviour to intervene before a problem develops.
Breaking it down slightly: technological developments in the past decade have allowed us to build new risk-assessment models, which are more sophisticated than ever before. Built into these risk-assessment models are new and innovative markers of protection which quickly ascertain when an intervention is required so that customers can be protected before any harm is done.


There are also new controls which allow for a tailored approach to player protection. In addition to intervening, they recommend a control to a customer quickly based on their betting habits. They also allow us to build a picture of each individual player’s betting behaviour, so the suggested approach can be tailored to each individual.

How important is sustainability in the world of adult gaming?

Sustainability, and ESG more generally, is of paramount importance in the world of adult gaming and sports betting. ESG and sustainability principally boil down to ‘doing the right thing’ and, in the current climate, any business that doesn’t put ESG at the forefront of its agenda is ultimately going to be left behind in the years to come.

How big a role does tech play in the betting and gaming world?

Technology plays a huge role in how we promote safer gambling practices as well as enabling us to offer our customers new, exciting experiences, both in-store and online. It also allows us to deliver our purpose which is to bring “moments of excitement into people’s lives”.

The way we use technology and data provides us with the ability to be even more innovative – customer behaviours are constantly changing, and people want new things in new ways. Interactive entertainment is more mobile and more immersive; customers want richer and more engaging experiences with more content, social interaction, and media

Do you think tech’s importance to the sector will only increase as the years go by?

Definitely. Technology is changing what companies can offer their customers and what our customers are looking for. This is what drives our focus on our customers every day.

We believe that in the future, there will be a convergence of media, entertainment and gaming which focuses primarily on experiences. Our ambition is to use our technology to expand our proposition and offer customers a 360* experience, combining data, stats, and immersive technology.

How is 2022 shaping up for Entain?

2022 is set to be an exciting year for Entain as we continue our journey of diversified growth, underpinned by our industry-leading approach to sustainability.

Retail will continue to bounce back from COVID-19 imposed restrictions and we will roll out more of our Digital Hubs for customers. Our online operations will continue to expand both in existing markets and into new regulated markets around the world as we deliver an even better, broader and more engaging entertainment experience for our customers.

In January, we announced the launch of Ennovate, our new Global Innovation Hub. We are pioneering a more personal, proactive and technology-led approach to player protection – already rolling out in the UK and soon also going into trials in other international markets.

In the US, BetMGM will continue to go from strength-to-strength as we deepen our presence and customer base and set a course to be the leading operator across sports betting and iGaming. We also expect to announce further developments in esports, following our acquisition of Unikrn last year, as well as expanding into social mobile gaming.

So, as ever with Entain, a lot going on! Watch this space…

“We want to lead the way with new, exciting products and experiences for customers and use our cutting-edge technology to pioneer innovations in sport, gaming and interactive entertainment for the metaverse”

“We want to use our position as a global technology leader to help drive innovation more widely. Working with partners around the globe, Ennovate will demonstrate how Entain’s industry-leading technology can both revolutionise experiences for consumers and deliver real benefits to society”
Jette Nygaard-Andersen
Jette Nygaard-Andersen

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

We are currently developing these unique digital collectible assets for brands across the Entain group and Partypoker is set to launch its first official non-fungible tokens (NFTs) shortly, powered by Theta Labs. NFTs are unique, non-fungible certificates of authenticity of digital files, which could include items such as artwork, music, videos or tweets. Partypoker’s NFTs will showcase some of the most iconic video moments and tournament hands in the history of partypoker and partypoker LIVE.

Immersive experiences in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Immersive experiences in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will be shown and developed at the Ennovate lab. These will include a pioneering VR multi-sports club experience, which is expected to launch shortly.

VR (Arcades)

We are set to bring immersive experiences to customers on the high street, converting two of our locations – in Manchester and Shoreditch – into new VR retail experience zones. Customers will soon be able to try out ground-breaking new experiences in immersive sports and interactive entertainment for themselves. “Our goal is to bring the most exciting experiences in immersive sport, gaming and interactive entertainment to life as the metaverse takes shape. Working with partners we believe we can achieve great things faster, both for customers and to apply these technologies and skills to benefit wider society”

– Sandeep Tiku, Chief Operating Officer

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