With sports betting legal in 36 states and Washington D.C., there are more options than ever for placing bets. Pennsylvania alone has 14 online sports betting apps and 18 online casino apps. The increased accessibility of sports betting and online casinos has opened the need for more conversations around responsible gambling.
Cait DeBaun, Vice President, Strategic Communications & Responsibility for the American Gaming Association hosted a webinar this week centered around Responsible Gaming Education Month to discuss resources, tools and the importance of responsible gaming.
The panel talked about technology advances and the collaboration from major competing operators across the country to promote responsible gaming among players as online gambling expands.
- Christine H. Thurmond: Senior Director, Responsible Gaming at DraftKings
- Charmaine Hogan: Head of Regulatory Affairs at Playtech
- Jaime Costello: Director of Programs, National Council on Problem Gambling
Increase use of tools and technology continues to push responsible gaming
Technological advancement allows for expanded betting options, but panelists pointed out technology can also support responsible gambling efforts across the industry. And operators are continuously striving to develop and improve those resources for their customers.
DraftKings, for example, offers education hubs to help educate customers on gambling before they even deposit money. Players get step-by-step instructions through tutorials and videos that include explanations of how to play certain games and read odds. Thurmond explained that responsible gaming is woven into every level of decision-making at DraftKings.
“I’m a firm believer that the best trained workforce in this space will transform to the most informed player base,” Thurmond said. “When people know it and they have responsible gaming in their head when they’re at their jobs, it becomes part of what they do.”
Thurmond said a goal of hers is to destigmatize tools players can use to help play responsibly. DraftKings recently partnered with BetBlocker, a software company that lets players anonymously block legal and illegal betting sites and set time restrictions at no cost to the players.
Playtech Protect uses technology to spot problem gambling markers
Playtech, a market leader in the gaming and financial trading industry providing game design and content, has a division called Playtech Protect. This unit uses AI-driven analytics and research to detect problem gaming.
“It measures problem gaming on the markers of harm,” Hogan said. “The beauty of it is that it’s not just a scoreboard of how much time or money you’ve spent online. It’s looking at the payment systems and methods. It looks at your deposits, wagers and your fluctuations in those. Are you increasing? How often are you increasing? Are you chasing losses? Are you playing later at night? Those are examples of key markers.”
The same technology that allows for a more customized online gaming experience can also tailor responsible gaming messaging and help protect customers.
Emphasis on customer well-being and long-term sustainability
The idea of responsible gaming could fall on deaf ears to players, especially coming from operators. In the end, operators exist to make money and want a leg up on their competition.
The prioritization of responsible gaming has increased over the years as operators want players to have a positive playing experience to keep them as customers long-term.
To do that, there has to be balance between responsible gambling and making sure players have a positive gaming experience.
“Responsible gaming has to be part of every conversation,” Costello said. “If that means there’s a conversation about marketing and customer acquisition, responsible gaming also has to be part of the conversation. You don’t talk about a balanced diet without eating fruits and vegetables.”
DeBaun, the moderator of the webinar, is proud of how far responsible gaming has come and wants to let players know that operators care about the well-being of their players.
“The growth in responsible gaming and prioritization and practicality, it’s not a PR thing,” DeBaun said. “A lot of people think that’s what responsible gaming is. It’s foundational to who we are and how our businesses operate. It’s something we continue to grow and advance because that’s how we evolve and sustain our industry. This is something we are taking actual steps to invest in.”
Operators are on the same team for responsible gaming
The competition in the gaming industry is fierce. But one thing operators are on the same team about is responsible gaming.
“It’s so important we normalize the dialogue,” Thurmond said. “For so long it’s been them against us type of dialogue. Now what I’m seeing is that the responsible gaming people across the industry talk to each other. I work with the folks with some of the other operators and we put out 12 principles we committed to. I consider them my colleagues.”
Major online sports betting companies including Bally’s, BetMGM, DraftKings, Entain, FanDuel and MGM Resorts International recently published 12 principles for responsible gaming.
Operators agreed on advertising responsible gaming and support for evidence-based problem and responsible gaming research. They also agreed to provide tools and education and to share the responsibility of addressing problem gambling. One of the principles reads:
“We believe in a shared responsibility approach to addressing problem gaming and are committed to working with policy makers, academic experts and researchers, problem gaming treatment organizations, advocacy groups, and our partners as well as with our customers to promote responsible gaming and address problem gaming.”
These leaders in online betting hope the principles will serve as a benchmark for other operators in the legal gambling industry to follow. And it reaffirms that industry stakeholders are on the same page with putting customers’ well-being above all else.