Paf Responsible Gaming Summit 2017

10th October 2017
At the Paf Main Offices in Mariehamn, Åland Islands

Thank you for a great Paf Responsible Gaming Summit 2017!

We really enjoyed hosting this year’s summit at Paf’s new headquarters in Mariehamn on the Åland Islands, exchanging ideas and exploring new ways forward within responsible gaming. This year, the focus was on the role of attitudes as a key driver of actions within gambling advertising, problem gambling and sustainable behaviour.

A warm thanks to all guests and speakers for making this year’s summit a success. We hope to see you again in 2019!


  • Maria Wetterstrand, communicator, political commentator and biologist
  • Sari Castrén, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Social Science, University of Turku


  • Per Binde, Researcher in the field of Gambling Studies, Social Anthropology at University of Gothenburg, School of Global Studies, Sweden
  • Peter Wiklöf, CEO at Ålandsbanken Ab
  • Morten Rønde, Chief Executive of the Danish Online Gambling Association
  • Madeleine Tügel, advisor at the Gambling Addicts’ Association of Malmö, Sweden

Thank you!
The RG Summit Team

Per Binde - Gambling advertising and attitudes towards gambling
Peter Wiklöf, Ålandsbanken - Using Business to Incent Individual Action
Morten Rønde - Effects of the Danish market regulation

Picture collage of the day


Gambling addiction: how to have and open discussion and involve friends and relatives of problems gamblers


In a Finnish study from 2014 that mapped gambling statistics, it was found that approximately 19.3% (almost one fifth) of the responders intimately knew someone who gambled. These concerned significant others (CSOs) of problem gamblers were more likely to demonstrate risky behaviour, such as excessive gambling, health problems or addictive disorders (Salonen, Castrén, Alho, Lahti, 2014, Svensson et al. 2013, Wenzel et al. 2008)

In 2016, a related study that investigated the extent of and types of distress the CSOs were exposed to showed that 59.5% of CSOs worried about the health and well-being of close ones and experienced emotional distress as well as problems in interpersonal relationships (Salonen, Alho, Castrén, 2016).

Grant (in Grant et al. 2004) found that one predictor of treatment retention was whether gambling disorder patients had someone in their lives who was supportive of them receiving treatment and giving up gambling. It is widely acknowledged that social support is positively associated with reducing gambling (Thomas et al. 2009, 2011).

The CSOs of problem gamblers can learn behavioural skills for reinforcing gambling-free behaviours and withholding reinforcement for gambling behaviours. Avoiding negative reinforcement is also encouraged. For example, family members often enable gambling behaviour by removing natural consequences that may act as deterrents to gambling (e.g., paying bills for gamblers). CSOs can be taught to let natural consequences occur and to influence environmental contingencies in order to provide reinforcement for decreased gambling and to withhold reinforcement for gambling (Magnusson et al. 2015).

Three concrete tips for actions to be taken by the gaming industry

1. Ensure early identification of problem gambling, proactive customer contact, accessible information and open discussion

With time, when gambling problems escalate, the addicted person tends to feel high levels of shame and may try to hide the problems. Therefore, it is important to identify and address problem gambling in an early phase, before the behaviour escalates.

From within the gambling industry, customers’ gaming patterns can be followed up using different approaches. At Paf, the work towards customers within responsible gaming utilizes an approach that strives to inform and engage the customers.

Paf uses a tool called the Radar that helps us follow and analyze customers’ gaming patterns. As a measure for creating transparency and furthering clear communication, Paf sends customers graphs that illustrate the customer’s gambling behaviour. These graphs give customers the opportunity to reflect upon their gambling behaviour and make more well-informed and responsible gaming decisions.

Since early engagement is a crucial factor in preventing problem gambling, we also proactively contact customers whose gaming behaviour is changing or appears cumbersome. These outbound calls are made by specialists trained for the task within customer support, and the aim is to engage the customers to reflect upon their gambling behaviour.

The calls can include discussions involving for example the customer’s changing gaming patterns, the effect of gambling on the customer’s life and loved ones, and joint planning of the practical steps to be taken towards more sustainable behaviour. Some of the concrete issues that may be discussed during such calls is critique from the customer’s significant others regarding the customer’s gambling habits and consequent problems (e.g. unpaid bills, mounting loans, arguments, etc), and if friends and family members feel that they have been affected by the customer’s gambling in some way.

Our outbound call specialists recommend customers to be open and transparent regarding their gambling (in order to diminish lying, hiding, and other aspects of addict behaviour that worsen the situation), and to start a dialogue with someone they trust regarding their situation. At this time, it is important that both the customers and their CSOs have access to relevant and informative material portraying the customer’s gambling habits as well as the issues that CSOs of addicts are confronted with. Problem gamblers are often not aware of how their addiction is affecting the people around them, and gaining awareness of this may be an important and eye-opening experience.

2. Inform CSOs about external sources of help

Provide on gaming site: help pages, info links and facts about problem gaming and CSOs in places where the problem gamer will see it.

Living with problem gamblers often has both mental and physical downsides for the CSOs. Many CSOs feel quite lost and are in need general support as well as advice regarding how to handle the practical problems and communicating with the problem gambler close to them. When CSO contact Paf, we offer emotional support and provide information about where to turn for support and answers regarding problem gambling.

3. In customer registration: allow communication with CSO when needed

Since problem gamblers often harbour a high level of shame and try to hide the extent of their addiction and related problems, it is a good idea to implement the possibility of support for the customer early in the process. This could for example be done by, in the registration process, asking the customer to check the box “I allow the responsible gaming department to contact my CSO and discuss my gambling pattern if needed”. This could be a way of making sure that the gambling is transparent and that support is readily available in case the customer later loses control of the gambling.

Three tips for service providers

1. Empower the CSOs

The CSOs often feel powerless in face of the challenges that lie ahead, and the first important step as a service provider is to give information about what it means to be a CSO to a gambling addicted person, what the consequences are for the CSO, how not to be an enabler and how to talk to the addicted person. The second important step is to give general information about gambling addiction and its consequences for the gambling addicted person in a non-judgemental manner: to make a clear statement regarding how gambling is affecting their everyday life, and support the gambler to seek help and take responsibility for reducing or quitting gambling. This part is about promoting the CSOs’ understanding of the gambling problem. One good source of information is the peer reviewed, regularly revised and internationally acknowledged diagnostic criteria of Gambling Disorder (DSM-5, APA, 2013).
Examples of other reliable sources are:

2. Engage CSOs in the treatment

Research shows that social support is positively associated with reduction in gambling and that it is recommendable to strengthen the CSOs self-efficacy and encourage them to start a dialogue with the gambler, thus shifting their role from being an enabler of problem gambling to being a support person for reducing it. As supportive persons with the right focus, the CSOs can be a great resource in the treatment of problem gamblers due to their proximity to the gambler and their consequent high motivation.

3. Make sure that help is accessible for both CSOs and problem gamblers

Always see to that:

  • Links to help sites and other information are working
  • Information is easy to access and understand
  • Links to support and help services are updated

Contact us at: [email protected]

Previous Paf RG Summits: 2013, 2015