U.S. Operators Face VIP Responsible Gaming Challenges

May 15, 2024
Back
Although leading U.S. operators say they are disciplined in cutting off access for VIP customers when their gambling becomes problematic, some acknowledge the issue can be more challenging when those customers represent a significant portion of their revenue.
Body

Although leading U.S. operators say they are disciplined in cutting off access for VIP customers when their gambling becomes problematic, some acknowledge the issue can be more challenging when those customers represent a significant portion of their revenue.

The role of VIPs in the U.S. market has gained more attention in recent weeks following a Wall Street Journal article that focused on the handling of one VIP customer in Pennsylvania, which drew scrutiny from a prominent U.S. senator.

During panel discussions at the SBC Summit North America, representatives from several gaming operators spoke about the importance of keeping tabs on the habits of VIP players.

Rich Taylor, director of responsible gambling for BetMGM, said the company is vigilant and communicates internally between teams on matters of responsible gaming for VIPs.

“I have a close relationship with our VIP team,” Taylor said. “I meet with the director of both sports and casino VIP on a weekly basis. We have channels where we are sharing information with each other to make sure that those players who may be exhibiting some concerning warning signs are being reviewed by my team.”

Taylor said BetMGM employees, including VIP hosts, also receive quarterly training in spotting problematic trends in players, and the company will shut off access for players who need it.

“We're making sure that we are working together to take care of those players as well, and that means if we need to close that account, so be it. And that's the stance that we take,” Taylor said.

“We're going to put the player’s well being above everything else, because when you do that, in return, the player will give you loyalty and you won't create the harm that unfortunately can occur due to somebody’s gambling issue.”

Taylor said that the BetMGM responsible gaming team has never received pushback from the commercial side of the business when it comes to shutting down players over concerns of player protection.

“The total number of times any commercial team has pushed back on our decision to close an account is zero,” Taylor said. “And I don't see that number changing any time in the future.”

Other operators, however, told SBC delegates that decisions to shut off players can create tension, both with the revenue side of the business and with the players themselves. 

“It's relatively easy to intervene with someone you know is spending way beyond their means,” said Adam Warrington, vice president of responsible gaming for Underdog Sports, who formerly worked in a similar role for FanDuel. “It's very complicated with someone who is a high, high net worth VIP who drives your business in a substantial way.”

Warrington added that operators must use advancements in technology to learn more about VIP players, both about their play habits and changes in their lives that may affect their play.

“We all know how important VIP programs are to every operator,” Warrington said. “For many operators, they are a major, major revenue driver.

“We have to use enhanced technology to understand the level of play for these VIPs, use those hosts to understand what's going on in the lives of those VIPs,” he continued.

“Circumstances change, you don't make as much money one year, you might be getting divorced, things happen, different levels of expenses.”

Emilia Linderman, group compliance director for Fitzdares, added that the relationship between sportsbooks and VIP customers can also lead to a false sense of security for operators.

“I agree those conversations with ultra-high net worth individuals are extremely difficult, extremely complex, and there is also space for complacency as well,” Linderman said.

“We tend to feel like we know more about them than we actually do, because they’re often people who have, you know, a huge online presence or they’re friends of friends of friends.

Operators “tend to feel like we know more about them than we actually do”, and the financial or emotional circumstances of those players can change, Linderman said.

“There's always context and a story behind every person. And so yes, I think learning about those guys [is] much more difficult than the rest of your customer base.”

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.