In an effort to expand its safer gambling program, Merkur UK has announced they will support an academic research program which aims to understand dominant trends in the relationship between gaming and gambling.
The research will study the differences between Web2 and Web3 gambling, and it will also include an analysis of the specific Web3 gambling features, platforms, activities and experiences. The research will also delve into the different types of customers, customer awareness and how this might influence behavior as well as provide a contrast between the context of gaming and gambling with other Web3 activities and platforms.
Merkur UK plays a crucial role in supporting this research, which will help society to understand the relationship between gaming and gambling, the transition to Web3, and its impact on mental health.
The research work is being led by ESG Gaming, a not-for-profit Corporate Community Interest Company founded by Lee Willows, with the research findings scheduled to be presented at a Parliamentary Symposium in Q2 2023.
Lee Willows explains the importance and topicality of the initiative:
"Video games are one of the most popular recreational activities for adults and young people.
Esports - defined as competitive spectator-driven video gaming played by professional gamers - now has upwards of 470 million spectators worldwide who are able to gamble on the outcome of an event in a way that's similar to sports betting. As a consequence, the risk is that younger people are being drawn to gamble.
In 2020, 17 percent of esports gamblers were aged 18-24 with the majority classed as ‘first time gamblers'. This situation is compounded by the fact that those who choose to gamble do not perceive themselves as traditional gamblers. Some good research does exist around this, but we'd like to contribute by taking it a step forward, by also considering how Web3 might change behavior, which will allow organizations such as ESG Gaming to reimagine prevention and support.
We have established an independent governance structure, for the initiative and the support from Merkur UK will enable ESG Gaming to undertake timely and purposeful research which will then be used to co-develop digital content with partners aimed directly at casual players to reduce harms. Merkur UK through its impactful 360 Program has set a high standard in terms of the implementation of safer gambling for the land-based AGC sector and we see this as a natural evolution of that work."
General manager for Merkur UK Sascha Blodau believes in the importance of taking a broad approach to safer gambling.
Sascha Blodau said:
"Most industry observers will view safer gambling through the prism of online, licensed betting offices, casinos, or high street gaming entertainment centers. However, there is a significant demographic of players who are at risk but who do not even recognize themselves as gamblers.
Supporting ESG Gaming to undertake this pioneering research with their academic partner will form the bedrock of an authentic outreach digital programme to engage with players and high-risk spectators alike. It will also enable us to reimagine safer gambling initiatives as the world moves to Web3. It promises to be an important and illuminating piece of work, conducted by experts and we are delighted to support it."