It’s called March Madness for a reason.
College basketball takes over the television with a seemingly endless amount of games.
Conference tournaments. Championship Week. The first four play-ins. And then, the bracket games arrive, nearly begging for some action.
According to the American Gaming Association, 47 million Americans expected to wager on the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Compared to 2019, the AGA reported three times more Americans planned to bet March Madness games at online sportsbooks and twice as many would place bets at retail sportsbooks.
If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get lost amid all the excitement. But entities in both Pennsylvania and across the country have taken numerous steps to help those who need it.
March is Problem Gaming Awareness Month
In February, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved a resolution to recognize March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The campaign strives to raise awareness and promote the resources that can help individuals who are dealing with problem gambling.
“The goal of Problem Gambling Awareness Month is to bring recognition to gambling disorders by educating the public on the warning signs of the addiction and on treatment options and recovery tools available to those who suffer from the disease,” said Elizabeth Lanza, Director of the PGCB’s Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling.
NCPG promotes “Awareness + Action”
Pennsylvania is just one of several states that have adopted the National Council on Problem Gaming’s March campaign. The NCPG’s theme for 2022 is “Awareness + Action.”
Pennsylvania’s operators are leading the way on problem gaming safeguards
In Pennsylvania, the action needed to rein in problem gaming can be as simple as picking up a phone. By dialing 1-800-Gambler, callers will access trained specialists who can provide treatment options that are available both locally and statewide.
As we previously reported here at PlayPA, all applicants for gaming licenses in Pennsylvania must also submit a compulsive and problem gambling plan along with their applications. All brands must comply with the plan in order to continue operating in the state.
That stipulation has led to diversified efforts and initiatives designed to curb problem gaming.
MGM Resorts/BetMGM are employing a healthy amount of “GameSense”
This week, MGM Resorts International and BetMGM announced the newest elements of their responsible gaming initiative. The comprehensive plan targets both in-person and online players.
MGM Resorts’ casino floors now feature a variety of slot machines with QR codes that offer access to responsible gaming information and educational materials from GameSense.
GameSense was first developed by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). The program focuses on positive, transparent and proactive conversations with players about how to gamble responsibly.
BetMGM also employs more than 180 GameSense Advisors who are experts in responsible gaming at MGM Rewards desks across the country.
GameSense is also now fully integrated into BetMGM’s mobile and desktop platforms. GameSense offers information on how to set responsible gaming limits, dispels common gambling myths, explains the basic rules of gambling, and provides support resources for customers and their families. Employees will also receive GameSense training to reinforce BetMGM’s commitment and approach to responsible gambling.
“Our industry is expanding at a rapid rate as more markets legalize sports betting. And we’re committed to growing the right way,” said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM. “It is important to empower and educate our customers, and the enhancements we’ve invested into GameSense within BetMGM provides the best information and guest services for players to bet responsibly.”
FanDuel and DraftKings also provide numerous safe-gaming resources
Other operators in Pennsylvania have deployed similar safeguards. FanDuel’s app allows players to set custom deposit, betting and time limits.
There is also a feature that allows players to take a gaming “Timeout.” This tool freezes the account for a time period between 3 and 365 days. Once the period ends, the account automatically restores.
FanDuel’s other resources include numerous links to support sites, requests for self exclusion, and a “Reality Check” feature that provides notifications every 15-30 minutes of how much time and money have been spent.
DraftKings, another popular gaming product in Pennsylvania, has also established similar safeguards. Players can set up monetary/time limits, find numerous support links on a Patron Protection Page, and also implement self-exclusions or a cool-off period.
Play it safe
As a whole, the gaming industry has taken some impressive steps in Pennsylvania to prevent problem gaming and provide the appropriate support when needed.
It’s these measures that will help everyone navigate the madness of March and beyond.
Bettors can play it safe.
And play it sane too.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/John Locher