Warren Russell, W2: Affordability checks should be done with care

W2 on affordability checks

Warren Russell, Founder and CEO of regulatory compliance firm W2, noted the importance of finding balance when talking about affordability checks in gaming. 

With the Gambling Act indefinitely postponed yet again, more talking points reveal themselves for the industry. Preliminary discussions return to the agenda, with player protection taking its usual central stage.  

As Russell points out, opinions in both politics and the industry itself are heavily nuanced when it comes to how stringent precautions should be. W2’s CEO acknowledged that the focus should be on preventing harm, but he also remained clear on one thing – regulators should differentiate between problem behaviour and leisure time in gambling. 

“It’s going to be very interesting to see where those thresholds are set and how the operators react, because gambling is a business and for the average player it’s a leisure time activity,” he remarked.

“For some people, don’t get me wrong, it goes beyond that. But for the vast majority, it’s a leisure time activity and for the operators it’s certainly legitimate business.”

“We’ve just got to be careful that we don’t create a rule and a regime that means that everybody who sits in those safe places are treated and have to behave the same as the people who do have a problem. 

“Those problems absolutely need to be solved, and what we very much hope is that the solution that we’re bringing to market goes some way into helping that. We’re not pretending this is a silver bullet, it’s part of a responsible gambling process.”

Noting the dangers of the highting cost of living, Russell offered details about the work W2 is capable of doing in favour of responsible gambling and players at risk.

“What W2 tries to do across all of our solutions is make them as granular as possible. We’ve got hundreds of different elements available through our platform, but obviously not everybody takes everything.

“For example, you might walk into Tescos to do shopping tomorrow, but you might just pick up a pint of milk, or you might do a month’s worth of shopping, so we’ve built our platform to operate in that way. 

“That’s exactly the same approach that W2 has taken for affordability. The solution is split down into several individual components, which an operator can take as a single bundle. These can all be implemented perhaps at registration or at whatever point they want to, or it can be broken down into its individual elements, 

“These are all implemented perhaps at registration, or whatever point they want to, or they can break it down into its individual elements and do some registration or use some various markers of harm triggers.”