OK, perhaps we are reading too much into Neil Channing’s comments on Racing TV last weekend, but he does seem to be well-informed, and his comments tally with earlier suggestions that the much-anticipated Gambling review whitepaper will be released this side of Christmas.
Perhaps more significantly, the expectation is that the contents of the whitepaper will remain essentially unchanged. From the perspective of affordability checks, that means the relatively ‘strict’ approach of requiring checks based on real financial data when customers spend £2,000 over the course of 3 months (if we can assume the leaks earlier in the year were easily accurate).
Before looking more closely at what this means, it might also be worth calling out Neil Channing’s later comments, specifically that legislation may not inevitably follow publication. That sounds like a likely scenario, but in truth will probably not change much. The Gambling Commission, already proactive in this area, will almost inevitably see the recommendations within the whitepaper as a green light to continue demanding real affordability checks - and perhaps get tougher yet.
Firstly - don’t panic.
It is unlikely that the publishing of the whitepaper will mean immediate changes to how things operate today. In fact, this is one of the unspoken and unrecognised truths of this whole affair: that with or without the whitepaper things are not going to change too much, and certainly not overnight.
That said, it is worth re-iterating the point that legislation, whilst it may ultimately give operators the clarity they are so desperately seeking, is not coming soon. For the foreseeable future it will be business as usual, but with an explicit, public endorsement of the approach the Gambling Commission takes today.
With that in mind, it is definitely time to think clearly about how your organisation is going to meet the challenge of affordability checks based on real financial data, and more of them. If you are still asking for bank statements and looking them over with a biro and calculator in hand, it might be time to ask if there is a better way (spoiler alert, this is the ClearStake blog, there is)
But perhaps most importantly of all…
Operators tend to look at me as if I have two heads when I say this, but I absolutely mean it. I used to work for a major operator, and part of my role was to stop customer churn and maximise lifetime value.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone doing that job today. Here is a process (affordability checks) that leads to about 75% of customers who enter that process churning. Wouldn’t you want to do absolutely everything in your power to reduce that number? Particularly when, almost by definition, these are the very best customers you have?
The answer to that question is either ‘yes’ or ‘it’s time to go and hire another customer retention person’.
And what is key here is that this process happens today.
The whitepaper will, likely as not, accelerate things. There will be less ambiguity around whether third-party passive checks are good enough (they won’t be). The requirement to conduct affordability checks at specific spend levels will become more explicit. But as noted above, you might be surprised with how little changes from where we are today.
But where we are today is not a great place. We need - now - to find better, faster, simpler ways to conduct affordability and source of funds checks. And that is the challenge ClearStake was founded to address.
If you are struggling with high-value customers churning due to affordability checks that take an eternity, and as a result give those customers every incentive to look elsewhere, then we can help. Drop us a line. Whitepaper or not, we can reduce churn and drive revenues.