Responsible Gameplay is core to Aristocrat’s business
For millennia, people all over the world have played games as a source of fun and recreation. In modern society, game play remains something that many people enjoy. Aristocrat offers two main types of games:
- Social or digital games, which are video games played on devices such as mobile phones, or desktops; and
- Real money, gambling games which are played in regulated environments such as a casino or club.
Aristocrat’s gambling games are distinct and highly regulated because they offer players the opportunity to:
- stake real money;
- in a game of chance; and to
- win real money.
Aristocrat strongly supports having rigorous rules in place that strive to ensure every aspect of the design and operation of gambling games is appropriate, transparent and fair, and to give players, customers and the community confidence that this is so.
Upholding the rules and promoting responsible gameplay more generally is one of Aristocrat’s most fundamental obligations. It’s a major way that we deliver our company mission to Bring Joy to Life through the Power of Play and express our values. We believe it’s also key to ensuring we can continue to grow our business and promote a sustainable games industry that’s welcome in the community.
What does Responsible Gameplay mean?
Aristocrat believes that responsible gameplay is characterised by the following criteria:
- The player is playing for pleasure or entertainment;
- The player is exercising control over their play, and any associated spending and
- The play activity occurs in balance with other activities in their lives.
With respect to excessive gameplay, we don’t profess to be experts, and we know that there is no single solution. But as an industry leader, we believe that we have an important part to play, including in terms of responsible game and product design, upholding applicable rules and regulations that apply to our games, supporting research and encouraging and adopting best practice standards in consultation with our stakeholders.
Aristocrat strives to make a genuine and active contribution by taking steps to promote responsible gameplay across three pillars we summarise as ‘comply, empower and improve.’
- This means compliance with relevant rules, regulation and legislation. Whether that’s about data protection, privacy and platform rules for our social and digital games, or technical standards, licensing and game regulations in our real money gambling games, Aristocrat works hard to comply with the laws applicable to our business.
- Aristocrat designs products in line with our values. Our games are designed to offer great entertainment experiences to a broad range of players. Product development across our business is robustly governed, and informed by our responsible gameplay policy.
- Across our portfolio, we’re doing more to educate and empower, because we believe player choice and empowerment is fundamental to satisfied customers and a vibrant business and industry.
- This includes delivering more training for our employees, providing players with clear information on the way our games work, investing in developing and trialling responsible gameplay features with the support of our customers and providing options that give more choice and information to our online game players.
- Through our membership of key industry associations, we encourage our industry to be open and proactive in responding to community concerns about responsible gameplay.
- We advocate and adopt best practice standards in our own business, we invest in responsible gameplay product innovation and we contribute financially to research done by academic institutions in the US and Australia to enhance the evidence base and promote better understanding.
- In our real money, gambling business, we’re also active in partnering with our customers to deliver and improve their own venue based responsible gaming initiatives.
We are developing mandatory responsible gameplay training for staff which will begin to roll out early in calendar year 2020. This will complement efforts focused on our product teams, including the roll out of a Product Development Charter. The Aristocrat Responsible Gameplay team has also been active in presenting to and engaging with key leadership groups across the business, including regional land-based leadership teams, the Executive Steering Committee and Aristocrat Board, ensuring appropriate transparency and alignment behind our approach and priorities.
Aristocrat is developing a series of player information videos to provide the facts about how our gaming machines work. The intent is to help players to exercise informed choice and contribute to busting myths about the functionality of our gaming products. The first video explains the chances of winning a jackpot.
Age minimums for social casino-style games
Aristocrat’s portfolio includes free-to-play casino-style social or digital games like slots, roulette and blackjack. In collaboration with our digital businesses Product Madness and Big Fish, we are taking steps toward ensuring that all of our social casino-style games include multiple consumer touchpoints that make clear they are intended only for adult players (18+). We are also working with our industry associations and platforms providers to encourage broader uptake of our proactive approach and consistent age-rating of casino style social games across the industry.
Increasing transparency for digital game players
We are taking active steps to promote transparency in our digital games. For example, during 2019, Product Madness, Big Fish and Plarium adopted harmonised disclosure guidelines for loot box mechanics and begun rolling these out across all portfolios. Loot boxes contain in-games items varying in rarity (and unknown to the player before it is opened) and can only be accessed through earning points or paying a fee. Implementation will be completed by mid calendar 2020.
Contribution to research
Aristocrat provides research funding to the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic to explore best practices relating to the deployment of responsible gambling initiatives. Aristocrat also provides regular funding to the National Center for Responsible Gaming in the US. In the digital games, Aristocrat is a long-time contributor to research conducted by the International Social Games Association to help build a robust fact base and support informed debate and effective policy making in this field.
Commitment to innovation
Aristocrat has a track record of investing in the development and testing of machine-based responsible gaming features, beginning with the ‘Bluegum’ product in 2013 which trialled various features including a charity meter and alarm clock. In partnership with key customers and with the support of regulators, Aristocrat continues to develop and test machine-based options in our real money, gambling business that have the potential to empower players and support our responsible game play commitments. We are committed to offering further responsible gaming innovations over time.
Aristocrat is a member of the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), a US charitable organisation dedicated to increasing understanding of gambling disorders and youth gambling, and to finding effective treatments.
Aristocrat is also a member of The American Gaming Association (AGA), the premier national trade group representing the US gaming industry, with our CEO Trevor Croker assuming the Vice Chair role in 2019. In November 2019, Trevor was announced as the next Chair of the AGA, with a two year term set to begin in January 2020.
Over the past year, Aristocrat has also been closely involved with the AGA’s Responsible Gaming Task Force. The Task Force focuses on elevating responsible gameplay as a key priority for the industry and advocating for policy that protects consumers and facilitates innovation.
Aristocrat is a member of the Australasian Gaming Council (AGC), reflecting our desire to promote a proactive national approach to industry-led responsible gambling initiatives. Our CEO of the global land-based business, Mitchell Bowen, is a member of the Board. AGC works to promote a sustainable industry that delivers entertainment and economic benefits while promoting gambling education, responsible gaming awareness, research and evidence-based policy.
Aristocrat is also a founding member of the International Social Games Association (ISGA). We are represented on the ISGA Board, and proactively support the work of the organisation including research in relation to online and social games, and the development of best practices for this emerging industry.
Raising awareness with employees
Each September, we formally recognise key weeks including:
- Responsible Gaming Education Week in the Americas and
- Responsible Gambling Awareness / Gambling Harm Awareness Weeks in Australia.
During these periods, to supplement year-round efforts, we focus on employee education and awareness programs. Our aim is to improve understanding of RG principles and Aristocrat’s approach, and to encourage employees to continue the discussion about responsible gaming with customers, family, friends and community.
In 2019, to coincide with these periods, Aristocrat launched the first of our new player information videos, as outlined above.