Affordability and the BGC

After various leaks, the contents of the final White Paper will likely be no surprise and foremost will be what it says about affordability checks. From what we know, it is believed that a two-tier system of checks that operators will need to undertake is to be introduced.

The less intrusive tier would involve checks on secondary sources such as County Court judgements to ensure a player doesn’t have obvious black marks against their name. This tier would kick in at a level of £125 in a month or £500 over the course of a year.

Scott Longley

The higher tier would involve, according to the document written about in the summer, “more detailed consideration of a customers’ financial position” using tools such as Open Banking. The triggers contained within this tier are more nuanced and, at least as stated in the leaked document, would involve checks on anyone who has £1,000 in 24 hours, or £2,000 in 90 days. 

New customers will also have to be reviewed if they spend £500 in 24 hours in the first month or £1,000 in their first 90 days. Under-25s will be subject to the new customer triggers regardless of how long they have been with an operator.

Unfortunately, that is about as much as we or indeed any consumers know about affordability checks. For further details, we will have to wait until at least January.

The game’s gone

That hasn’t stopped speculation about what such checks might have on the UK punter, though. 

According to a recent article in the Racing Post, there is a widespread scepticism among the betting public about what their reaction would be to the idea of affordability checks.

According to one punter, “the game is up for me now” should any type of check be introduced. Another said they felt it was “pointless” carrying on in the face of such unspecified intrusions.

Another response clearly took the libertarian tack. “It boils down to asking for proof of funds and mainly asking for bank statements which I will not give to anybody,” said the punter. “I wouldn’t give my brother my bank statements.”

Reactions such as these clearly have the sector rattled. Yet, as the articles from the Post make it clear, the disquiet about affordability checks is largely down to actions already being undertaken by the operators.

As various UK operators have mentioned in recent trading statements, they have seen collectively their revenues being hurt by measures introduced in recent years, particularly around AML, source of funds and responsible gambling.

The price of doing business in GB

The impact of these measures – which to be clear aren’t all about affordability – are given mention in a recent report from EY which was commissioned by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

And it really is just a mention. According to EY, online GGY has declined since mid-2021, “probably reflecting the re-opening of physical venues, the introduction of affordability checks online, and the decline in real household incomes”. 

Even that brief mention is somewhat misleading. 

Customers are complaining about enhanced due diligence, not AFFORDABILITY

Yes, ahead of the White Paper and under pressure from the Commission with regard to AML, operators have instituted a number of checks. But all the checks and processes recently introduced are largely a response to the multiple failings as detailed in the numerous regulatory settlements over the past few years.

They are not – yet – affordability checks as we understand might be included in the White Paper. What the Racing Post is detailing, then, is the response from a selection of customers to checks that should have been part of the ‘onboarding process’ in the first place.

Of course, the personnel charged with making these kind of checks might well not be explaining all that well why such processes are needed now and how the lack of such checks may or may not have previously landed the operator in question in hot water.

Further, as was clearly detailed by the Post, there is a wide disparity across operators which, it might be speculated, could be a function of exactly how much hot water said operator might have landed themselves in.

What we can say for definite is that in terms of the UK regulatory backdrop is that checks such as have been introduced by operators are now the price of doing business.

Crying wolf

It was curious, then, to see how the BGC handled the report they themselves had commissioned.

Even at such a late hour as mid-December, when presumably the government is merely dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the White Paper, it took the opportunity of the report to caution about what future affordability checks would mean for the sector.

Is the BGC’s latest intervention on affordability checks ill-timed?

Citing a recent study also commissioned by the BGC, it said the EY report backs up recent polling which showed nearly 70 per cent of people who place a bet said they would be unwilling to allow regulated firms to carry out compulsory affordability checks to prove they can afford to wager.

Talking to iGB, a spokesperson noted that the press release accompanying the EY report had focused on a very small section of the report.

“The reason why we are focusing on affordability checks is because we know there is an active discussion going on in government at present about what kind of affordability checks should be introduced,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that should affordability measure be introduced at the level spoken about in the leaked document, then it would be “catastrophic from their point of view”.

This feels a little over-dramatic. The spokesperson was keen to suggest that the frictionless affordability checks spoken about by both the government and the Gambling Commission “aren’t there at present”.

Differing approaches to affordability

This, again, seems a little simplistic. As was noted in a recent LinkedIn post form ex-Playtech Protect managing director and BetBuddy founder Simo Dragicevic, there are in fact quite the plethora of approaches on affordability which come with a varying range of intrusiveness.

This includes geo-affordability data, Credit Account Information Sharing (CAIS) data, such as monthly credit data relating to credit card expenditure, loans, mortgages, etc, and Current Account Turnover (CATO) data that provides opportunities to understand a customer’s discretionary spend. 

Meanwhile, the emergence of Open Banking is “creating opportunities to access customer data directly from their bank accounts,” he noted.

Playing a dangerous game

The BGC says the industry fears the government won’t say enough in the White Paper about how affordability checks can be made as unobtrusive as possible, which the companies working in the verification sector are busy working on solutions that offer just that. 

The danger with the BGC approach is it runs the risk of making it look like the sector is running away from the opportunity to make life easier for itself. Yes, all concerned need to be careful about how affordability checks are instituted and leaving this all to the Gambling Commission would seem like a bad outcome.

But playing Chicken Licken and running around with press releases screaming that the sky is falling in also seems to be a perverse tactic at this point. Especially when it is evident the current levels of check introduced voluntarily by the sector have clearly not led to the apocalyptic catastrophe the BGC warns about. It seems odd to try and persuade the world otherwise.

The current situation is reminiscent of the surfing scene in Apocalypse Now when Robert Duvall’s army major suggests almost wistfully “someday this war’s gonna end”.

It feels like we are at this point with the White Paper. While that certainly won’t be the end of the debate around the future of the UK gambling sector, it will at least hopefully bring an end to the posturing around affordability. 

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and gambling. He has worked for a number of publications including Investment Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, eGaming Review and Gambling Compliance.

Genesis Global enters insolvency, lays off all staff

As reported by the Times of Malta, Genesis Global sent a letter to all of its 140 employees on 23 December, informing them that they would be made redundant.

“Earlier this week, the company initiated proceedings in the courts of Malta to be declared insolvent,” the letter said. “As a consequence, this has unfortunately resulted in your position being declared redundant.”

The letter added that “the company may not be able to pay all of any of the dues that are due to you in terms of law”. This, it said, included December salaries as well as notice pay.

“We are currently trying our best to find a solution to this issue,” Genesis said.

The letter added that Genesis was working with “the authorities concerned” to “find alternative solutions” that would allow employees to be paid.

Genesis Global CEO departure and UK exit

The announcement comes soon after Genesis Global chief executive Ariel Reem departed as the business announced its exit from the UK gambling market.

Reem did not disclose the reasons for his departure at the time.

“It is time to move on to the next challenge/adventure,” Reem said in a LinkedIn post. “How to summarise eight years when building it from scratch? Over the years I saw how ideas were turned into reality and how impossible or extremely hard tasks were overcome with perseverance and passion.”

Genesis Global previously had its UK licence suspended in 2020, though this was later reinstated.

ACMA clears Sportsbet of alleged in-play betting breaches

The ACMA case related to Sportsbet offering betting on the Brownlow Medal, which is awarded to the best and fairest player in the Australian Football League (AFL) season and determined by votes awarded by umpires at the end of each match based on the individual performance of players.

Sportsbet customers were able to bet on the award during the medal-count live broadcast on 18 September this year, wagering on the player they thought would win the medal for the best or fairest player.

ACMA flagged the case as the betting was taking place on an event that was live, which is not permitted under current sports betting rules set out in the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001. 

Specific, potential breaches included subsection 15(2A), which prohibits offering an online in-play sports betting service in Australia, as well as subsection 61DA(1A) and 61DA(3) that cover designated interactive gambling service advertising. 

ACMA “sporting event” definition

However, ruling on the case, ACMA noted that a definition of a sporting event was not included in Section 10B of the IGA, which sets out rules for in-play betting in Australia. 

As such, ACMA said as the televised medal event could not be regarded as a sporting event itself, nor was the outcome of the count a contingency that happens in the course of the event, Sportsbet did not breach rules by offering in-play betting.

Given this finding, ACMA also ruled Sportsbet did not contravene advertising prohibitions set out in the IGA by authorising the broadcast of betting markets during the Brownlow medal count.

Other Sportsbet markets

ACMA also looked at similar in-play betting offered by Sportsbet on the Norm Smith medal (AFL) and the Clive Churchill medal in the National Rugby League. 

Both awards are based on the performance of players during an individual match, with the award winner selected and announced at the end of the event by officials or independent persons. The selection of the winner is not dependant on the outcome of the event.

As with the Brownlow Medal Count, ACMA said it did not consider these awards to be a sporting event, or a contingency that may or may not happen in the course of a sport event.

Therefore, ACMA did not consider the betting markets on the outcome of these awards to be in-play betting services under the IGA, ruling Sportsbet did not breach any betting rules.

Brentford star Toney faces further FA charges over betting rule breaches

Last month, Toney was charged with a breach of FA Rule E8, which states any player, match official or coach must not bet, either directly or indirectly, on any matters related to football anywhere in the world.

Toney was initially found to have breached this rule 232 times between 25 February 2017 and 23 January 2021 – a period in which he was playing in leagues outside of the top tier Premier League in England.

Ahead of being issued with charges, Toney confirmed that he had been helping the FA with its investigation.

Following further investigation by the FA, the body now alleges that Toney breached this rule an additional 30 times between 14 March 2017 and 18 February 2019.

The striker is yet to publicly respond to the latest charge, but has until 4 January 2023 to provide a formal response to the FA

Brentford FC acknowledged the charge in a statement and confirmed it remains in private discussions with Toney and his legal representatives on the matter. The club added that it would not be making any further comment at this time.

Ivan Toney career

Toney, 26, joined Brentford at the start of the 2020-21 season, helping the team secure promotion from the second-tier Championship to the Premier League, scoring 31 league goals in the process.

Prior to this, he spent two years playing for Peterborough United in League One, after a series of loan spells at other lower league clubs while with Newcastle United. 

He only made four senior appearances during his time with Newcastle, having joined the club from League Two side Northampton Town, where he began his career.

Toney was among the players being considered for the English national squad ahead of the recent 2022 Fifa World Cup but missed out on the squad despite scoring 10 league goals this season.

Back to basics

In 2006, when Charles Gillespie set up the business that would become the Group in his dorm room at the university of North Carolina, online gambling was in many ways still in its infancy.

In the US, the boundaries of the law hadn’t been tested – as they would be five years later when US prosecutors brought the hammer down on three prominent online poker businesses.   

When that happened, growth markets shifted to Europe, where jurisdictions began regulating one by one – before shifting back across the Atlantic as the 2018 repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) blew the whistle to begin the current sports betting boom.  

But amid the race for user acquisition that this initiated, Gillespie believes some old truths still hold true – and that much money can still be made in Europe.  

Sucking the air out of the room 

It’s easy to forget the size and potential of the more mature European regulated markets. 

Against the grim backdrop of inflationary and recessionary pressures on consumer spend, Group reported a 58% year-on-year increase in UK and Ireland revenues in its recent Q3 financial results.  

Gillespie notes the Group’s success, and the fact that it has come from more than just market growth. 

“For a mature online gambling market that is only growing at a single digit rate – that by definition means that we’re taking market share from competitors,” says Gillespie. 

He adds that industry success in the US has created a vacuum, with so much player acquisition effort focused on one side of the Atlantic that it’s easy to miss out on opportunities elsewhere. 

“The UK is fantastic,” Gillespie continues. “The US has sucked all the air out of the room.” 

“Everyone has to have a US strategy – US this and US that, and massive investment. But the UK is still a phenomenal market, as well as Ireland, and Sweden. These are regulated, large, clean, growing online gambling markets. Why would you ignore them?” 

Gillespie puts this down to the core competency of the team he has built, along with “lots of things that got 5%, 6%, 7% better”. 

“Search is a little bit better, conversions are a little bit better, deals are a little bit better,” he says. “UK consumers seem pretty resilient this summer, for whatever reason. 

“All of those little things multiply together and you get a pretty strong result.” 

Clever bettors  

The popular wisdom around affiliates may be that they have the most success in locations where online gambling is relatively new. The logic goes that since these customers are less experienced, there is more room to drive traffic to operators.  

“I think it’s the opposite,” argues Gillespie. “The best markets for affiliates are these mature markets where consumers know what they’re looking for and are very specific, and have more accounts per user than they have in a brand new market.” 

“These more mature markets – consumers are more promiscuous. They’re less loyal, they open more accounts, and there’s less friction because the market’s just been there longer and the rough edges have been sanded off already.” 

Gillespie says that these rules might not apply in totally novel markets where consumers have little to no experience at all with online gambling.   

“When you get New York – where there was literally no regulated online gambling at all – and all of a sudden at a certain time there is, of course you get this massive pent up amount of demand which creates a very lucrative opportunity.” 

“But that only lasts for a month, or two, or three. Then you have a market with consumers which are not as seasoned and have quite different customer dynamics, which are not as attractive as some of our more mature markets.” 

Getting in the black  

In the US, macro trends are piling up that will deeply impact marketing spend going forward. 

Conquering the US sports betting market can be compared to a race. Speed, money and brand were all core components, and each played their parts as operators threw the dice to try to capitalise on the historic opportunity.

The result of this was a marketing blitz of little comparison. The huge spend has proved to be unsustainable for many operators, with some opting to withdraw from the market. Now, the focus is going to be on a stricter approach to profitability. 

Gillespie argues that this is a positive development for a US-facing affiliate business like the Group.  

“Our view of this is that the operators invest the maximum amount they can into the affiliate channel at all times, and that never really changes – they buy as much traffic as they can get their hands on,” he says. “It’s not a function of budgets because the return on investment for them is so obvious.” 

“What is a function of budgets is everything else within the market mix: TV, radio, because it’s not attributable back to the bottom line. They can’t actually track it, they don’t really know if it’s working. It’s the first thing to get cut when they come under pressure. 

“And they are under huge pressure, especially in the United States to show a path to profitability.” 

Gillespie points out that operators cutting back on more traditional forms of marketing could help affiliates, as operators become more reliant on them for driving traffic.   

“They might even be compelled to pay a little bit more per player to get that incremental bit of traffic through that they otherwise might not have been compelled to get with a less competitive deal. All in all, it’s nothing but a good deal for us.”     

Looking around 

Since the Group was founded, the online gambling sector has been driven by seismic disruptions and technological leaps.  

Modern online gambling as we know it is built around the smartphone – technology that did not exist beyond Californian laboratories at the time Gillespie was setting up his business.  

The new frontiers in affiliate marketing are defined by data science and analysis, using potent machine learning-powered tools.  

While Gillespie is confident about the Group’s capabilities in this area, he sees it just as an extension of the same work the business has always been doing.  

“For us it is just continued execution on that opportunity to really crunch the numbers – and get the right operator in front of the right user for the right product in the right market, at the right time of day in the right city.” 

Maverick acquires Evergreen Gaming for $80.5m

Under the agreement, which was able to complete following regulatory approval from the Washington State Gambling Commission, Maverick took control of all Evergreen’s shares and assets.

Evergreen Gaming’s operations include four cardrooms across Washington: Chips Casino in Lakewood, Goldies Casino in Shoreline, Palace Casino in Lakewood and Riverside Casino in Tukwila.

The acquisition means Maverick Gaming now owns 31 casinos, hotels and manufacturing businesses across the states of Washington, Nevada and Colorado. This portfolio includes over 360 table games, 2,700 slot machines, 1,300 hotel rooms, 50 restaurants and approximately 3,500 employees.

Read the full story on iGB North America

Industry insiders say New York Times series paints unfair picture

In late November, the New York Times, in a year-long investigation, outlined how the industry lobbied state officials with gifts and contributed millions in campaign donations to spur expansion after the repeal of PASPA in 2018.

The series depicted how ads on television and websites for making bets had become unavoidable and outlined the consequences to public health, taxpayers and the sports world.

The Times wrote that lawmakers gave out tax exemptions, which ultimately subsidised operators’ luring of patrons with free bets and other promotions, and found promises of tax revenue haven’t materialised.

When it comes to responsible gaming, the New York Times said the industry has been “creative in devising ways to persuade people to keep betting even after they lose money, but tools to make it easier to quit — some run by gambling companies, others by states — do not always work”.

It cited how in Indiana, people who sought the state’s help to prevent them from gambling were still able to place bets.

Industry reaction to new York Times piece

Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, took the newspaper head on at the winter conference of the National Council of Legislators From Gaming States (NCLGS) in Las Las Vegas.#

Bill Miller has served as American Gaming Association CEO since 2019

“We looked at the New York Times when they came knocking on our door eight to ten months ago that they were hostile,” Miller said. “They had an agenda and decided what they were going to write before having conversations with us. The question was do we engage them or do we not. 

“My strong view was it was important for us to engage them and have conversation and do everything we could to separate myth from fact.”

Miller said he took issue with the notion of lobbyists trying to shape legislation to their industry’s benefit “is some shocking thing” when it’s the way the legislative process works at the state and federal level. 

The stories, Miller added, ignored a strict regulatory framework of the gaming industry and massive social and economic benefits it creates.

“Particularly as sports betting continues to grow, we’re removing an entire illegal market, whether it’s a corner bookie or the mob or offshore online websites,” Miller said. “It’s moving these people to a safe and regulated market. There was a lot of good work that was not considered by these reporters.”

Miller said he believes the New York Times editors dropped the five stories on the Sunday before Thanksgiving because they didn’t think there was anything interesting in them.

“It reminds us of our commitment to responsibility and the importance of distinguishing the legal and illegal market and never having a finish line,” Miller said. “We have a collective responsibility to make sure we are telling the story and that we’re improving. We looked at and measured who is reading this and if this had legs on social media and what sorts of ramifications of this. 

“It is incumbent upon us to look at what vulnerabilities we have collectively and how we work together to make it better. It’s essential for how we want to grow and continue to have a thriving gaming market.”

The AGA has been focused on the illegal gaming market in the US and wants states and federal officials to crack down on it and hand down indictments. 

The illegal gaming market is not only unregulated and untaxed but it doesn’t provide any consumer protections, Miller said. The AGA estimates more than a half trillion dollars a year is wagered in the illegal market and that $44 billion a year in lost gaming revenue, one third of the total gaming market.

“Responsibility is core to how we operate as an industry,” Miller said. “History recognises there are some inherent risks within some people within a population that gamble, but we want to make sure that we have a long, successful and sustainable industry. The only way you do that is putting responsibility at the core of how you want to do it. 

“We’re going to convene researchers on what responsibility looks like in a digital age. It is time for us to look at (what responsible gaming) looks like in the digital age where so many transactions are mobile and digital.”

In talking of the New York Times series, Shawn Fluharty, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates and NCLGS vice president, said sports betting expansion in his state was driven organically and lobbyists were thwarted in attempts to impact legislation.

“A lot of these states are passing legislation that looks different,” Fluharty said. “If there was an overabundance of influence by the sports leagues or other people of power, these pieces would be identical but they are not.”

Fluharty also noted that operators would often go beyond the law on responsible gambling efforts.

“Since we passed sports betting and igaming the ability to identify a user and know if they are interacting in a strange way that points to a red flag for responsible gaming, the technology is there and these companies are implementing that,” Fluharty said.

“It’s not even something that needs to be done from the legislative perspective because a lot of these companies are already doing it. The last thing they want is a bad business model.”

With illegal gaming, Fluharty said there’s no responsible gaming aspect as a part of it, and that’s why having a regulated, open and transparent market is necessary.

June Taylor, chair of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, said responsible gaming is core to the regulator’s mission, and it takes it seriously as it prepares to launch sports betting in January. 

While many citizens enjoy the products offered by operators, there are some who need assistance and have ways to protect themselves and their families.

“We know too often the devastation that can occur in families when there is an addiction challenge and when there is the inability to have that restraint,” Taylor said. “Although the focus is on the launch, our focus is also to make sure those resources are there. We are one of the few states that has a gambling court. 

“We’re trying to make sure we have some complementary structure for responsible gaming to be prepared.”

No “smoking gun”

Jon Ford, state senator from Indiana and NCLGS president, said he didn’t read the New York Times articles but says they were looking for a “smoking gun” and didn’t find it. 

He said his group has been working for two years on developing a resolution with the help of the University of Nevada Las Vegas and states like Massachusetts setting a national standard for responsible gaming that will be adopted by NCLGS next summer.

“It is put upon us policy makers and folks in the industry to develop strategies to help those people that may have gambling addictions,” Ford said.

“When we went from horse and buggies to cars there were a lot of deaths, but we (as a nation) put things in place and now those numbers are back down. We are trying to get out in front of this and set policies in place that protect consumers.”

Alan Feldman, a distinguished fellow on responsible gaming for the UNLV International Gaming Institute, said after having spoken with some of the New York Times reporters, it was “clear they didn’t want to hear anything that was going to balance out the story”. 

Feldman said that doesn’t mean the article should be dismissed, but it’s unfortunate the newspaper didn’t offer a more balanced story.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on in the articles that is true and probably deserving of some attention,” Feldman said. “There are some states where responsible gaming doesn’t come up at all. There are plenty of companies that pay lip service. It doesn’t mean all of the states and all of the companies are doing something bad, but there’s room for improvement. 

“That would have been a reasonable conclusion for a balanced story. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from people that companies are doing nothing. That’s absolutely not true. They may or may not be publicising everything they are doing, but they are doing a lot. Could it be improved? Of course across the board, but that doesn’t mean you pretend it doesn’t exist.”

Feldman said there are only a few states that give the issue “a fair do” and names New Jersey and Massachusetts among them. It’s been a big topic in Colorado as well, he adds.

States that have legalised gaming have to understand the impact of illegal gambling in a different way, Feldman said. People have ignored sports betting in the US for more than 100 years, but the good news is most people didn’t get harmed.

“But a whole lot of folks did and now is the time that it’s legal and that states have to be thinking about what they are doing to provide the necessary protections for folks who are dealing with the illegal side,” Feldman said. 

2022 World Cup breaks betting records, thanks in part to US growth

OpenBet said its performance among European players broke a record, with an engagement level increase of 22%. Canada, a host for the 2026 World Cup, recorded a 21% increase for the same metric, also setting a record.

Canada will share hosting duties with the US and Mexico, where the tournament will return to being played over the summer. The Qatar World Cup was organised for November and December due to inhospitable temperatures in June and July.

In North America, OpenBet said World Cup betting was more than double the size of the men’s and women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments.

It also found that more 12 million bets were placed on the US team during the World Cup, garnering more than $100m (£82.3m / €94.1m) in stakes. 

“Alongside a strong performance in Europe, the growth we have seen in North American markets demonstrates our ability to cater to these rapidly regulating jurisdictions,” OpenBet CEO Jordan Levin said.

“This also puts us in good stead for the 2026 World Cup, set to be held in the US, Canada and Mexico,” he adds.

Playing US leagues off the park

Fifa estimates that the final of the World Cup between Argentina and France was watched by more than 1.5 billion people, representing 20% of the global population.

The final was the second-most popular sports game for American bettors, according to data from geolocation and fraud specialist GeoComply. The game attracted 7.9 million geolocation transactions. 

This figure was behind the Super Bowl’s 23.5 million transactions, but ahead of both the NBA Finals with 5.1 million and NCAA Tournament championship game with 4.8 million.

These transactions are captured when sports igaming providers use the technology to pinpoint where a player is physically located before accepting their wager.

The company also recorded 1.7 million active users betting, again finding itself behind the Super Bowl with 3.1 million and ahead of the NBA and NCAA finals.

This is the first World Cup with regulated sports betting outside of Nevada, following the repeal of PASPA in 2018.

Jumbo’s Stride secures BC licence as president exits

Acquired by Jumbo in June of this year, Stride has been seeking to grow its presence within the Canadian market, focusing on expansion into British Columbia and Ontario.

Jumbo said confirmation of the new British Columbia licence is the first step in this strategy, while also revealing Stride has made an application to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for a similar licence.

Read the full story on iGB North America.

Catania exits as Kindred’s head of responsible gaming

Catania, who held the role since August 2019, will leave Kindred to set up a new consultancy business.

Having joined Kindred in January 2009, Catania started out as a fraud analyst before going on to become responsible gaming manager, then fraud and responsible gaming manager and later integrity analytics manager.

Prior to taking on her most recent position, Catania spent time as head of Kindred’s player sustainability research and integrity team.

Maris Catania

Catania will be replaced by Esther Scheepers, who is currently responsible gaming manager for Kindred’s Player Safety – Early Detection System.

“13 years ago, I joined Kindred Group and looking back I cannot believe what a rollercoaster it has been,” Catania said in a LinkedIn post announcing her exit. “I have seen RG from a non-existent necessary evil to an area on the top of the agenda for many, although more work is always needed on the topic.

“Of course, I will always be grateful for Kindred for all the opportunities they have given me, and I will still work with the company to continue on several projects especially research ones. I just feel that after all these years, I want to expand my knowledge to other areas and hopefully help others through RG research and RG initiatives. 

“Having said all of this, I feel it’s been a whirlwind of emotions leaving my post as head of RG, but knowing that Esther will take on this role, makes me feel reassured that Kindred is in the right hands. I am super happy for her and have no doubt that she will excel in this.”

Catania’s time at Kindred included the operator’s Journey Towards Zero programme, in which it pledged to derive none of its revenue from problem players by 2023.

Catania was also named by iGB as one of the Most Influential Women in gaming in 2020.