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Please read through the answers to some frequently asked questions about RG Check. For more information, please get in touch.

Why Accreditation Is Important

Based on a comprehensive set of responsible gambling (RG) standards, RG Check is the most rigorous RG accreditation program in the world. Developed in consultation with a broad set of stakeholders, from policy makers to people with experience of gambling problems, it is designed to meet or exceed all existing regulatory responsible gambling requirements, and provide a concrete roadmap for implementing recognized responsible gambling codes of practice. RG Check accreditation is effective for a three-year period, at which point operators may apply for reaccreditation. All accreditations are approved by a prestigious and independent panel of responsible gambling specialists.

RG Check is based on standards for land-based and internet gaming sites developed by the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) Centre for the Advancement of Best Practices.

The standards provide objective and independent benchmarks for the content, quality, and breadth of RG programs delivered by gaming providers. They represent RGC’s determination of the gold standard of player protections in place to help reduce the risk of problem gambling.

RG Check accreditation offers gaming providers an objective means of assessing their RG program and assists with the adoption of effective responsible gambling initiatives.

RG Check accreditation means that your gaming site’s RG program has been assessed:

  • Against a set of evidence-based standards developed by well-respected, independent experts with a 30-year history in the prevention of gambling-related problems.
  • By a prestigious panel of professionals selected for their independence and expertise.

Gaming sites with RG Check accreditation:

  • Take player safety seriously, increasing public and player confidence.
  • Have a strong RG safety net in place, offsetting the need for more formal regulatory action by governments.

Have validated RG programs, reducing the potential for expensive or time-consuming initiatives that lack reasonable evidence or merit.

RG Check can give players a greater level of assurance of the quality of responsible gambling programs on or at a particular site.

As shown in focus groups conducted with gamblers as part of the development of the RG Check program, the assessment of a given site against an independent system of standards gives players a greater sense that the gaming provider takes their well-being seriously.

The RGC Responsible Gambling Standards are:

  • More comprehensive than any other sets of standards:
    • Provide detailed expectations for each standard
    • Incorporate standards that others do not (e.g., assisting players who show signs of a gambling problem)
  • More focused on RG program quality:
    • Concentrates on core RG deliverables (e.g., expected content of training, informed decision making, self-ban) not security, fraud or other non-RG elements

The RG Check accreditation process is:

  • More rigorous:
    • Reviews contain more detail
    • Multifaceted verification process
    • Includes a review by a prestigious arm’s-length Accreditation Panel
  • Independent
    • RG Check has been separately incorporated and is governed by a Board of Directors that does not have gaming industry representation.
    • Granted by an internationally recognized non-profit organization with over 30 years of experience in problem gambling prevention, not an industry-associated body

As an independent non-profit organization committed to the prevention of problem gambling, the Responsible Gambling Council is well positioned to develop RG standards and deliver an accreditation program. RGC has:

  • Credibility as independent and objective observer of the gaming industry
  • Expertise in developing best practices
  • A reputation for high-quality research
  • Over 30 years of experience working with gaming operators, regulators, and researchers
  • A strong commitment to a balanced perspective

The Responsible Gambling Index for gaming venues comprises eight standards and 47 criteria, while the Responsible Gambling Index for internet gambling comprises seven standards and 48 criteria. The criteria are benchmarks that define the standards in greater detail and guide the accreditation process. They are measured using metrics that have been field tested for reliability.

The RGC Centre for the Advancement of Best Practices developed these indices through an extensive process of research, analysis, review of international practices in responsible gambling programs, and consultation with a wide variety of key stakeholders. The resulting standards are associated with objective criteria reflecting established and expected best practices in the provision of RG initiatives.

While there is a lot of overlap between the two sets of standards, there are some obvious operational differences that are reflected in both the standards and criteria. For example, assisting patrons at a venue takes place in the form of face-to-face interactions, while providing similar assistance to a player on a website takes place over the phone or via web chat. This has an impact on staff training requirements and escalation strategies for people in distress. Another example is access to money. Venues are essentially cash-based businesses, while internet sites require that a ‘wallet’ be established in order to gamble. The differences between the two sets of standards are based on these operational realities.

RGC recognizes that every organization has its own strategies, policies and priorities, and took care to design the standards in a way that accommodates variability and focuses on outcomes. As a result, RG programs for accredited sites are not necessarily identical.

RGC consulted with many people in the development of the standards – people with firsthand experience of gambling problems, regular gamblers, researchers, regulators, treatment providers and a number of individuals who work in the gaming industry.

RGC works with gaming providers in a number of ways due to its strong commitment to bringing together all perspectives in addressing problem gambling. For this reason, RGC has introduced strong measures to ensure the integrity of the standards and accreditation process.

  • RG Check has been separately incorporated and is governed by a Board of Directors that does not have gaming industry representation.
  • The standards development process included consultation with a small number of gaming industry officials for information and advice.
  • The standards were reviewed and approved by the RGC Program Quality Committee composed exclusively of treatment providers and individuals with firsthand experience of gambling problems.
  • An arm’s-length Accreditation Panel reviews all decisions regarding accreditations.
  • The Accreditation Panel is composed of professionals with outstanding integrity.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers completed a business process review of the RG Check program in 2013.

The Accreditation Panel, appointed by the Board of Directors, is composed of individuals selected on the basis of their integrity and their commitment to high standards in social responsibility and public policy. For each site submitted for accreditation, panel members review the report and recommendations made by RG Check staff.

Organizations applying for accreditation pay a fee that covers the cost of the accreditation process and the ongoing research and analysis required to keep the standards current.

The standards and criteria, as well as information about the assessment process, are published on the RG Check website and in printed materials. The names of sites that have received RG Check accreditation are made public with the consent of the gaming provider. Final scores are confidential, as is information about sites undergoing accreditation and all documentation provided by gaming providers as part of the accreditation process.

What Being Accredited Means

The RG Check accreditation program accredits individual gaming venues and igaming sites for their responsible gambling programs and initiatives.

RG Check works with accredited gaming site staff to issue public releases regarding its accreditation. As well, accreditations are listed on the RG Check website, with consent of the gaming operator. Accredited sites have the right to use the RG Check logo as visible acknowledgement of their accreditation.

Gaming providers may communicate their RG Check accreditation in their publications, subject to the communications standards established by the program. RG Check will provide accreditation materials and logos that can be displayed at venues, on websites, and in other approved locations.

RG Check recognizes that much of the information provided will be proprietary. The contract signed with the gaming provider contains strong confidentiality language.

RG Check will not publically identify any site that is undergoing the RG Check process unless and until accreditation has been achieved, and only then with the consent of the gaming provider.

In addition to the acknowledgement of the site’s RG program through accreditation, the RG Check program offers services such as:

  • Media releases acknowledging site accreditation (coordinated with the accredited site’s communications staff)
  • Ongoing advice and consultation about an accredited site’s new or revised RG initiatives
  • Testimony, upon request, before official bodies regarding the site’s RG Check accreditation

RG Check accreditations are in effect for three years, with the opportunity to undergo reaccreditation prior to expiry. Sites are expected to submit a brief annual update (based on a templated checklist), in order to maintain their accreditation in the second and third year.

RG Check has stringent conflict of interest protocols. Members of the Accreditation Panel would be in conflict of interest if they have a financial interest in, or are serving as a director, officer, employee, agent, partner, associate, personal or legal representative of, or consultant to an entity that is subject to the RG Check accreditation program.

The Panel Chair ensures Accreditation Panel members are free of any conflict of interest.

How the Accreditation Process Works

If a site does not meet the threshold for approval, RG Check prepares a report outlining the areas that could be strengthened. The gaming operator may provide notice that some or all of the recommendations will be put in place within a six months period and opt to continue the process. The operator may also choose to appeal the decision to the Accreditation Panel by submitting notice to RG Check. Sites that do not achieve accreditation are never publicly identified.

The RG Check process is similar for both land-based and internet gaming sites. It begins with a notice of intent that a gaming provider wishes to be accredited. Next, a contract is created between the organization and RG Check. The subsequent steps are outlined below:

For venues:

  1. DATA GATHERING, including documentation and a staff survey, to understand your existing RG landscape.
  2. SITE VISIT including interviews of key staff, a patron survey, a self-exclusion demonstration.
  3. ASSESSMENT of operations and governance to see how you implement and manage your RG activities.
  4. SCORING, report writing, and quality assurance.
  5. DRAFT REPORT provided to the venue for feedback.
  6. FINAL REPORT of findings and recommendation reviewed by the Accreditation Panel.
  7. DECISION to accredit or not is conveyed to the venue.

For internet gaming sites:

  1. SCOPING to determine scale of the site and products being assessed.
  2. DATA GATHERING, including documentation, interviews, staff and player surveys, and technical assessment.
  3. ASSESSMENT of operations and governance to see how RG activities are implemented and managed.
  4. SCORING, report writing, and quality assurance.
  5. DRAFT REPORT is provided for feedback from the operator.
  6. FINAL REPORT of findings and recommendation reviewed by the Accreditation Panel.
  7. DECISION to accredit or not is conveyed to the operator.

The Director, Standards and Accreditation and her team are responsible for holding contracts, conducting field assessments and reviews, writing reports, maintaining quality assurance and making recommendations to the Accreditation Panel, which reviews each decision.

RG Check collects information in several ways, including but not limited to:

  • Conducting a review of RG policies, initiatives, tools, and training materials
  • Conducting field work and interviewing key staff
  • Examination of data pertaining to player/patron interactions, self-exclusions, etc.
  • Conducting staff and player/patron surveys

The RG standards include many associated criteria. Each criterion is scored on a four-point scale, taking into account all data collected (documents, interviews, surveys, etc.). Criterion scores are aggregated to determine the overall score for each standard.

No organization is perfect, and so a perfect score (100%) is not the goal. To be accredited, a site must achieve an overall score of 70%, with no standard achieving a score of less than 50%.

The process generally takes six months from start to finish, though actual time will be influenced by the volume of applications and the degree to which information is readily supplied by the gaming provider.

A gaming provider can make a submission to RG Check asking that the Accreditation Panel review the decision not to accredit. Once the appeal is heard and a decision made by the Panel, no further appeal is available. At any time, the provider has the option to reapply for accreditation when it has addressed shortfalls identified in the report.

Recognizing the pace of change in both the land-based and internet gambling industry, as well as potential impacts of ongoing research, it is essential to update the standards and associated criteria on a periodic basis.  For this reason, the RGC Centre for the Advancement of Best Practices is committed to identifying trends in accreditation data, as well as significant technological, regulatory, and/or research developments related to land-based and internet gambling.

Should an impact on a given standard or criteria be identified, further research and analysis will be conducted. This could include specific testing and broad consultation with key stakeholders.

Recommended changes to standards and criteria are submitted to the RG Check Board of Directors for discussion and approval. Sites undergoing accreditation and reaccreditation will be given significant advance notice of an upcoming change. Any such changes will also be posted on the RG Check website.