Christina Thakor-Rankin, Principal Consultant, 1710 Gaming
Every generation is a product of the times they live in. From the teenagers and hippies of the post-war Baby Boomers and to the economic boom and bust ‘latchkey’ kids of Gen X and Y, to the turn of the century technology led internet generation better known as the Millennials - each generation and their values, behaviours and characteristics are defined and shaped by the world in which they come of age.
The newest generation - ‘Generation Z’ (also called the digital generation or the ‘i-generation’) starting to come of age is no different. Unlike previous generations however the events shaping their world have not been war, economy or new technology, but half a century of world peace (relatively speaking), mass migration and the onset of the digital age.
These events have resulted in a world which is much more socially, culturally and ethnically blended than it has ever been before, more connected, and where individuals born into this age are able to move seamlessly between the physical and digital world adapting and adopting the values, behaviours and characteristics of the group they are interacting with at that time. As a result, this new generation is going to be unlike any before it. Set to be the biggest generational group in the history of the planet, they will be more socially, racially, and culturally diverse than any generation ever before.
This means that the way they think, act and behave will be radically different from any generation before it. This includes gambling.
Unfortunately, to date, almost everything we know about responsible and problem gambling and the tools developed to address it has been built on previous generations of gamblers. This includes the traditional concepts of customers winning and losing, gambling being a largely personal and private activity, and research based on the behaviours, traits and characteristics of players who fall into broad cultural and social groups: mainly Caucasian male sports-bettors of a certain age range and mainly Caucasian female casino/slots players of a certain age range, with a little bit of poker and bingo sprinkled in. And a one fits all solution of deposit limits and self-exclusion.
This has to change as the industry is about to face one of its biggest challenges to date: Generation Z.
The early signs are that most of them are not interested in a traditional gambling experience centred on repeatedly hitting a button with ‘spin’ written on it, but for those who do, gambling will not be about the traditional win. For them a win is a good experience - fun, entertaining and engaging, not winning money. This automatically changes the perception of ‘loss’ which will not be defined by money, but by the quality of the experience.
For a generation who has grown up with social media and multi-player games, gambling will not be a private activity, but something which provides an opportunity to interact, display skill and in doing so, raise their profile within their social circle. This is sports-betting, poker and card games.
This means a radical re-thinking of our approach to responsible gambling. We need to take a far more proactive approach as the traits which will be linked to gambling in the future – interaction, bragging rights, showing off skills and being recognised as the best that make for a winning experience, are also some of the traits and markers of harm linked to problem gambling.
Historically we have taken the view that problem gamblers develop these traits as a result of gambling. For this new generation, these traits will have already developed and been established long before they ever reach the age where they can gamble.
Unless we start to get our heads around this now we are looking at the prospect of a new generation of players who are pre-programmed to be problem gamblers.
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