Finnish Casino Company Paf Announces Loss Limit Policy
Paf, a Finland-based casino company, plans to introduce a loss limit on September 1 in its gaming venues. While other casino operators have installed security systems that root out problem gamblers, Paf is the first known casino company to introduce a loss limit policy.
Paf Gaming is located on Aland, a small autonomous island group off the Baltic coast of Finland. From their island headquarters, Pac Casino Group owns land-based casinos, online gaming sites, and casino cruises.
The company’s CEO recently announced plans to introduce a annual limit of 30,000 euros a year, which currently converts into roughly $35,000 in U.S. currency.
Once a gambler reaches that limit in a year’s time, Paf plans to cut off the customer. In doing so, the Finnish company’s CEO, Christer Fahlstedt, estimates Paf will lose about 5% of its revenues each year.
Christer Fahlstedt on Gambling Addiction
Paf Casino‘s move is part of a growing tendency towards socially aware gaming practices. In most cases, gaming groups are forced to be socially conscious by government’s gaming regulators — or fear of regulations imposed by those game regulatory agencies.
In announcing the new policy, CEO Christer Fahlstedt said, “We don’t want to see people’s lives destroyed because of gambling addiction. There has to be a way back. We hope that Paf’s new hard cap will take us in the right direction.”
Paf’s “Radar System”
Anders Sims, CCO of Paf, described in an email interview with a European gaming publication how Paf’s problem gambling interventions work. Sims said, “Some years ago, we were the first international operator to develop a technical ‘radar system’ which identifies customers online who might have gambling problems. We contact these customers with the purpose to make them aware of their gaming behavior and encourage them to use the tools that help them to control their gaming, such as deposit limits.”
“If that doesn’t help and we still are worried about the customer, we set a fixed limit for them. In some cases we also freeze their accounts. We also finance research in order to improve in this field. The last years we can see that some operators are following us and implementing their own responsible gaming programs, which is very good.”
Paf’s Business Operations
Paf was founded in 1996 as a land-based casino company. The Paf Casino on Aland has 1,500 slot machines and 55 tables. Paf has a fleet of casino cruise ships (picture above) which sail in the Baltic Sea and North Sea.
Paf.com is an international online betting site. It has a wide range of casino and betting opportunities: table games, slot machines, sports wagering, lottery betting, poker, and bingo. With the proceeds of such gaming, Paf contributes to charity organizations like Red Cross and Save the Children.
Social Awareness in Gaming
This is not the first gaming policy based on social awareness. The British Columbia Lottery Corp developed a software tool called GameSense. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission mandated that Massachusetts-based gaming operators use the GameSense software.
For that reason, MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts are familiar with GameSense, which is designed to curb problem gambling among visitors to land-based casinos. Researchers estimate that between 2% to 5% of all gamblers deal with problem gambling.
Those same researchers vary wildly in their estimates on how much casino revenue comes from problem gambling. The Paf loss limit policy might be one of the best tools for making a true determination of that percentage.
MGM Resorts and GameSense
Nevada does not require casino operators to use tools like GameSense, but MGM Resorts has implemented the program in its casinos. MGM Resorts also has pledged $5 million to the UNLV Research Center which studies problem gambling.
MGM Resorts has not pledged to set a loss limit, though. In a time when the UK and Australian governments are taking stern measures to assure problem gamblers are not harmed by their gaming habits, it is probably a good idea that casino companies develop social awareness to the issue. In purely self-interested terms, it might avoid future regulatory oversight.
Melco Resorts’ MelGuard
Melco Resorts & Entertainment designed a similar system, MelGuard, which is hopes to introduce to its Japanese casino, if Japan’s officials choose to give Melco a casino license. No country interested in licensing land-based casinos is more interested in social harmony than Japan. Melco’s Lawrence Ho, a Hong Kong businessman, is aware of Japanese official’s concerns.
Part of his pitch for a Japanese casino was to introduce the MelGuard security system, which uses iPhone-style fingerprint and facial recognition technology to identity problem gamblers. MelGuard otherwise acts much like GameSense does.