It is no secret that big online gaming operations walk a fine line between promoting gambling and trying to protect players from the darker side of the gambling world. One of the ways operators try to bridge that gap is through participation with public sphere groups researching problem gambling and addictions, and to that end, the Entain Foundation has pledged a founding donation to a new research unit at the University of Las Vegas (UNLV).
The Entain Foundation is the not-for-profit wing of Entain, the parent company for partypoker. The European gambling corporation established the foundation in 2019 with a pledge of £100 million to help fund research into responsible gambling. The money is intended to be spread over 5 years, and is one of the initiatives Entain is backing in gambling research.
It is unclear how much of that fund is dedicated to UNLV at this time, but it is not the first time Entain and UNLV have gotten together for a game-changing initiative. In February of this year, Entain and UNLV teamed up to promote more women into the tech and management side of the global gaming industry.
UNLV Leads US Gaming Research
From a US perspective, the UNLV is perfectly suited to be the leader in gambling research in the market. Situated in the center of the gambling capital of the world, UNLV has a front row seat to both the industry as a whole, and the many problems that large-scale gambling can cause on the personal level for some players.
The new unit will be dedicated to public domain research, distinguishing it from internal research units from the gaming corporations themselves whose results and conclusions are often proprietary data only available internally. The new research group at UNLV will change that, making its conclusions and recommendations fully public.
According to Bo Bernard, the Vice President of Economic Development of UNLV and Executive Director of its International Gaming Institute, the team will be designed to provide real-world initiatives to regulators and others in a non-partisan, public way.
“For the first time in this field, this initiative brings vital academic research in the U.S. to the public domain in dozens of applied settings. We are actively moving beyond the traditional ‘research center,’ since this project will translate scientific research into actionable, operational programs that can be implemented in real venues by operators, regulators, legislators, clinicians, and other stakeholders.”
Martin Lycka from Entain echoed that sentiment. The Senior VP for American Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling and trustee of the US wing of the Foundation, said the new unit at UNLV “brings into focus what has been missing from this space—*practical implementation of the research that will benefit the customer base and the industry itself*.”
Problem gaming initiatives have become very important in the gambling industry over the past few years, and while UNLV leads research in the US, it is far from the only player on the field. In addition to the new unit that Entain is helping fund at UNLV, the gambling giant also partnered with the American Gaming Association (AGA) during Responsible Gaming Week.
That partnership will see Entain’s education app, Gamble Responsibly America, featured on AGA’s Have a Game Plan website. Globally, the government owned gambling operator in Finland, Ålands Penningautomatförening, channels profits into public causes, and does its own research on gambling patterns through its own platform, making that research public.
Most gambling operators around the world also have their own research wings that analyze problem gambling trends on their own platforms and across the industry, but experts say the biggest issue today is a lack of consistency. To that end, during a recent CasinoBeats Summit, researchers Richard Schuetz, Dr. Katherine Spilde, and Steven Myers presented a panel that called for Gaming Knowledge Centers (GKC) with consistent mandates and focus across the world.
Dr. Spilde heads the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming at San Diego State University, and the panel pointed to that body as the ideal starting point for the GKCs, but it is likely that the UNLV unit will also be at the top of the list to join the newly proposed network of research centers. Additionally, the panel hopes the network of research centers will expand globally to help present a unified front on problem gaming research.
There is a lot of work to be done in the problem gambling area. Operators walk a fine line between maximizing profit and helping combat the very real destructive side of the industry, and it is vital that they do their part not to profit from the misery of their players. For Entain, the Foundation and this grant to UNLV is a big step in that direction that will help tie into a larger global effort to curb the damage that online gambling can cause.