Michigan Online Casinos Could Raise Problem Gambling Standards

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on February 6, 2023 - Last Updated on February 7, 2023
How Michigan online casinos can improve responsible gambling regulations

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)’s 2022 report, Michigan’s online gambling regulations don’t meet the necessary standards. In other words, Michigan online casinos and sportsbooks failed to provide players with sufficient responsible gambling (RG) protections.

The NCPG focused on consumer protection regulations of states with legal online gambling against its Internet Responsible Gambling Standards (IRGS).

Four of the seven legal online gambling states fall considerably short of NCPG’s minimum IRGS standards. Apart from Michigan, other states include Delaware, Nevada and West Virginia.

Michigan meets 36 of 59 key strands of responsible gaming measures

The report, titled US Online Responsible Gaming Regulations: An Evaluation Against National Council on Problem Gambling Standards, covered numerous online gaming aspects.

In particular, the NCPG’s report monitored 59 key strands of responsible gaming measures across nine distinct topics, including:

  • Policy
  • Staff training
  • Supporting informed decision-making
  • Addicting players
  • Self-exclusion
  • Advertising and promotion
  • Game and website features
  • Working with research (transparency and evaluation)
  • Payments

From the 59 key points, Michigan was evaluated to have covered 36 of them. That placed Michigan’s online gambling fourth among the seven states.

Michigan came after Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But is ahead of West Virginia, Delaware and Nevada.

Michigan graded poorly for responsible gambling in four areas

While Michigan graded well for topics like self-exclusion and supporting informed decision-making, it received poor markings in four other areas.

More precisely, Michigan operators did not cover the procedures in the following zones:

  1. Policy: meeting 2 of 4 criteria. The room for improvement includes a strategy for responsible gambling and annual evaluation and progress reporting.
  2. Staff Training: covering 0 of 2 criteria. The regulators did not include information on corporate policy and annual training when it comes to responsible gambling.
  3. Advertising and promotion: meeting 1 of 4 criteria. Michigan did not clearly articulate a commitment to responsible advertising. Likewise, Michigan needed to meet two other standards. Operators were not advertising their products on responsible gambling pages. And advertising should not be misleading about the game outcome or misrepresenting game odds.
  4. Research: 0 of 2 criteria met. Michigan operators are not transparent about play data for research and did not meet evaluation through the research program.

What NCPG recommends

NCPG experts say a comprehensive public health strategy is the most ethical and cost-effective response to gambling addiction. Apart from prevention, the RG strategy emphasizes:

  • Education
  • Treatment
  • Research services

As the NCPG statement says:

“The most ethical and cost-effective response to gambling addiction issues raised by internet gambling is a comprehensive public health strategy that includes prevention, education, treatment and research services. Responsible gambling standards are an important aspect of this approach.

NCPG recommends every state with igaming or those looking to legalize igaming adopt the IRGS standards to best protect consumers from the negative consequences of gambling.”

How could Michigan online casinos improve RG standards?

Undoubtedly, it was challenging for Wolverine State to launch online casinos and sportsbooks simultaneously during the pandemic.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board closely collaborates with the National Council of Problem Gambling and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Michigan’s collaborative approach to safer gambling is evident. However, there are still some industry aspects that Michigan needs to monitor more closely. Starting from staff training and evaluation and progress reporting.

No. 1 Annual responsible gambling training

The Michigan Gaming Control Board could add regulations that require licensees to perform annual responsible gambling training for employees. Those training courses could include definitions of key terms. Also, myths and facts and where to get help, with content updated when needed.

As the NCPG suggests, customer-facing staff should have improved annual training in player protection and responsible gambling interventions. These staff members should be trained and skilled to respond to situations where a player is in distress.

The organization also recommends the staff knowledge of responsible gambling should be tested as part of the training.

No. 2 Evaluation and progress reporting

Not only did Michigan lack in strategy for responsible gambling, but it also failed in annual evaluation and progress reporting.

Michigan operators should have a responsible gambling strategy with defined goals and a clear plan of action. Such a strategy should be evaluated every year for progress with publicly available reports.

No. 3 Education program

To protect users from the harmful effects of gambling, Michigan regulators could also introduce public education programs. Specifically, programs addressing advertising and promotion. Such programs could include presentations and player consultations to increase responsible gambling awareness.

That would help players receive the information they need to help them make better decisions in the long run.

No. 4 Transparency of play data

Casino operators and sportsbooks should provide information about the genuine probability of winning instead of exaggerating return rates.

As GambleAware’s recent study implies, the information should also include how games work with all potential risks that come with gambling. Additionally, players should be provided with transparency on data collection purposes and possible consequences resulting from using the data.

Research programs should also be implemented to help operators monitor and review the effectiveness of their responsible gambling policies. That could also include tracking player usage and uptake of responsible gambling tools.

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Written by
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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