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Anna Sainsbury

Co-Founder & Chairwoman, GeoComply, and Conscious Gaming Trustee

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Anna Sainsbury

In less than 10 years, GeoComply has become the go-to company when it comes to geolocation technology for iGaming and sports betting organizations. Co-founder Anna Sainsbury says success means that she must give back to the community, and helped to develop Conscious Gaming, a nonprofit enterprise dedicated to spreading the word about responsible gaming across the industry. Conscious Gaming’s PlayPause tool allows players to understand how to employ responsible gaming strategies. But a possible universal self-exclusion list will make it easier for the industry to identify players with problem gambling issues at all gaming touchpoints. She spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros from her home in Vancouver in January.

GGB: Please explain the genesis of Conscious Gaming and why you believe this organization could be very important to the industry.

Anna Sainsbury: Because I’m the founder of a geolocation company, we had the ability to see how many users would cross the border to gamble wherever we operated. As I joined the board of the American Gaming Association, where they have a lot of initiatives supporting research and education into responsible gaming, I realized we have a need for products and technology to help support the research that is coming out and to create what the regulators want to see. We’ve seen some really great research coming out, but no one has been able to take that science-based knowledge and develop it into a technology.

Because we have that oversight, we knew the need. We know that at this moment, self-exclusion is handled on a state-by-state basis. So if you’re in New York, you just have to go across the river to be able to gamble in New Jersey or go to Vegas twice a year. As more states legalize sports betting, casino, poker, lottery, the exposure is greater. So our goal is to expand self-exclusion from the primary state where they are excluded to all the states that would participate.

You’ve reached an agreement with Pennsylvania to bring your programs to that state. Are you talking to other states as well?

We’ve had a tremendous amount of interesting and insightful conversations with state regulators and legislators in numerous states about what the capabilities are. We’re also talking to multiple operators and platforms.

We don’t want this only to be Conscious Gaming. It only works if we all recognize that this is something we want to improve.

Lots of operators are putting into place their own responsible gaming programs, but they are proprietary and individual. Would you like to see a universal program put into place?

Philosophically, there’s no way that we should be competitive on responsible gaming. The only way we will all win is if we’re actually taking care of people’s needs.

For Conscious Gaming, we are more than happy to be a platform that integrates multiple different methods. We want to build confidence in this approach. We’re trying to get the greatest participation by emphasizing that there is no cost for anyone to participate. It’s completely free, completely open. We want it to be community-based, so we’re taking feedback from anyone that has an interest in this issue.

So, is this just about operators and suppliers?

No, we’re reaching out to everyone involved in the space. For example, some regulators have told us there’s a need to block players in professional and amateur sports leagues from participating, so we’ve extended the free solution to all the leagues so they can use it as a centralized database share with their members so operators would know not to accept bets from anyone on that database.

What about cashless payments? There’s a concern that this could exacerbate problem gambling. How would your system assist in the effort to combat that?

We’re doing a lot of research about what cashless means to responsible gaming efforts. We believe we can directly integrate into those cashless solutions so that someone who has self-excluded anywhere in the U.S. would not be able to participate with cashless gaming.

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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