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Shining A Light On Innovative Responsible Gambling Efforts In The US

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on March 22, 2024 - Last Updated on March 26, 2024
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Problem gambling has been a concern because of the rapid expansion of online casinos and sports betting across the US. While betting on sports can bring additional excitement and adrenalin to the games, it can also trigger major issues.

March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, aimed at raising public awareness of problem gambling and the accessibility of prevention, treatment and recovery services.

“March Madness is one of the best traditions in American sports — and America’s most wagered-on competition,” the American Gambling Association President and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement this time last year.

Several legal US gambling states and a few operators have gone the extra mile, aiming to provide more robust solutions for those who struggle with gambling.

We’ll review some examples of efforts made to help promote responsible gaming.

US operators using new tools to promote responsible gambling

FanDuel announced financial literacy partnership in Massachusetts

In January, FanDuel announced a new financial literacy partnership in an expansion of its effort to empower responsible gaming. FanDuel partnered with non-profit Operation HOPE to promote financial empowerment and offer free financial counseling to residents of Massachusetts.

Through the agreement, Operation HOPE will implement its HOPE Inside program. The program allows Massachusetts residents to contact Financial Wellbeing Coaches, who will offer free virtual and in-person financial health sessions.

HOPE Inside program coaches Adam Spencer, Victor Encarnacion and Amy Hoerle will:

  • Provide financial knowledge and tools to create a secure future
  • Share strategies to build savings, improve FICO (credit) scores, and decrease debt
  • Counsel participants on how best to manage entertainment spending.

Operation HOPE  by FanDuel (OTCMKTS: PDYPY) has served more than four million individuals since its launch in 1992.

Brian Betts, president and CFO of Operation HOPE, said in a FanDuel news release:

“HOPE Inside is designed to equip clients with the tools and resources required to make informed decisions about their finances. Through this partnership with FanDuel, we can help empower those who want to learn how to take control of their finances, which can ultimately lead to less stress and a higher quality of life.”

DraftKings introduces My Stat Sheet

DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) has recently unveiled My Stat Sheet, a new tool to promote responsible gambling that is already available across all DraftKings and Golden Nugget products.

With the gaming tool, players can assess, track and interact with their stats through intuitive charts. The feature is designed to help players gain information that will empower them to make data-driven decisions in their play.

Through intuitive charts and filtering options, players can view:

  • Time spent on the platform
  • Deposits
  • Withdrawals
  • Contest involvement
  • Wagers placed
  • Net win/loss on a monthly, yearly and lifetime basis

Sporttrade partnered with Birches Health

In early March, behavioral health services provider Birches Health teamed with Sporttrade to launch responsible gaming education and problem gambling resources. The initiative centers around:

  • Increasing public awareness of problem gambling and promoting awareness
  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Recovery services

The partnership focuses on ensuring that users of the Sporttrade platform have access to a robust catalog of customized responsible gaming resources and services.

Elliott Rapaport, founder of Birches Health, said in the news release:

“Through a collective focus on the promotion of responsible gaming and sustainable play, we are ensuring that individuals are able to access these resources.”

Some states have made extra efforts to promote responsible gambling

West Virginia shines a light on the impact of problem gambling

In early February, two West Virginia House of Delegates members, Rep. Roger Hanshaw and Shawn Fluharty, introduced HB 5668. The bill would require gambling operators to share data with academics for responsible gaming research.

The bill aimed to create the Responsible Gaming and Research Act (RGRA), which would become a pattern for future states considering the legalization of online casinos. The Mountain State is one of seven states offering legal online casinos, like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars.

The bill would have made it mandatory for gambling operators in the state to share player activity data with researchers at West Virginia University monthly, quarterly, or annually.

However, as approved by both the House of Delegates and the Senate, the bill’s role of the university in this scope has recently shifted from its original purpose.

West Virginia University researchers would still have access to gambling player data, but there is no longer language requiring licensees to reveal such data. All the responsibility shifts to researchers who would have to obtain such data instead of having gambling operators forced to share the information.

The approved bill extends its scope to “the state’s economy, innovations in gaming technologies and gaming operations.”

Maryland proposes data sharing with the state’s universities

By a vote of 92-43, the Maryland House passed an online casino bill (HB 1319) on March 16, before the crossover deadline, March 18.

Apart from problem gambling funding, the proposal includes data sharing with Morgan State University’s Data Analytics program and Bowie State University’s eSports program. Maryland’s HB 1319 reads:

“Internet gaming licensees must provide certain safeguards, controls, and mechanisms to assist individuals who may have a gambling problem and must define the permissible use of credit cards for any Internet gaming-related transactions.

The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling must report annually to the Governor and the General Assembly relating to Internet gaming and problem gambling as specified, and Internet gaming licenses must annually provide transactional data and metrics as specified to Morgan State University and Bowie State University.”

New Jersey could catch on to the idea of licensees sharing data with researchers

The state’s latest gambling treatment diversion court (GTDC) bill also comprises mandatory data-sharing. The GTDC program would provide an alternative to incarceration for those convicted of minor crimes motivated by gambling addiction.

As Bonus.com reported, the provision would only apply to the treatment providers working with the courts to help those with gambling-related criminal convictions avoid jail.

New Jersey AG Matt Platkin has just announced the launch of the Responsible Gaming Public Awareness Campaign. It is a nearly year-long public awareness campaign centered around preventing problem gambling and providing resources for responsible gaming. The campaign will mostly be pitched towards online ads, especially during this year’s NCAA Basketball March Madness.

The Garden State launched a similar initiative in January when the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) partnered with online casino and sports betting operators to identify and address at-risk players. Once it is determined that a player is showing signs of problem gambling, a responsible gaming staff member needs to contact them.

The New Jersey DGE also launched new responsible gambling tools in June 2023.

Other examples of innovations in the responsible gambling space

Pennsylvania tracks user activity

The Pennsylvania code requires operators to show log-in history, including the time of the player’s last log-in and wager activity.

When a player logs on to an interactive gaming system, the system must display the date and time of their previous log-on. In addition to the minimum display standards, software utilized for interactive gaming must display the following information:

  • Current time in the time zone where the registered player is physically located and the time elapsed while in the current registered player session
  • Cause a pop-up notification, at least every hour, to be prominently displayed on the interactive gaming device advising the registered player of the amount of time elapsed since his log-on, and the amount of money wagered since his log-on
  • Offer the registered player the option to select a pop-notification, in 15-minute and 30-minute increments, advising the registered player of the amount of money wagered since his log-on
  • Offer the option to activate self-imposed limits during the player account registration process

Pennsylvania is also one of the states that uses the player information for research. As of 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Penn State University (PSU) and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) provide annual analyses on PA online casino and other player gambling behaviors.

Illinois operators to alert players after every 10 wagers

Another improvement is included in Illinois’ 2023 Responsible Gambling Bill, which aims to increase problem gambling safeguards.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Cunningham and passed 54-0 in the Senate, SB 1508 would require online sports betting operators to show pop-up messages after every 10 wagers. The board shall require licensed online sports betting operators to at least once every hour:

  • Display a message advising the individual of the time elapsed since logging on
  • Advising the individual of the amount of money wagered since logging on

The message would help people in Illinois self-regulate their gambling activity by directing them to gambling addiction assistance websites.

If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 to seek help, available 24/7.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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