More Americans than ever have access to legal gaming—whether at one of the 989 tribal or commercial casinos, 33 legal sports betting jurisdictions, or seven iGaming states. In the past year alone, sports wagering has been legalized in 10 states. And the expansion of digital payments and mobile offerings means our products are more convenient than ever.
Responsible Gaming Education Week 2021 (RGEW), September 19-25, provides the occasion to examine how we can expand our responsibility efforts to meet the evolving needs of our customers—many of whom are either new to gaming or are transitioning to the legal market from illegal operators.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is helping lead this charge through our Have A Game Plan: Bet Responsibly campaign, which is bringing leagues and teams, media, and gaming operators and suppliers together to educate bettors with a consistent message on responsible sports wagering. Our partners—DraftKings, FanDuel, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, NASCAR, National Hockey League, PGA Tour, Sightline Payments, UFC, and the Vegas Golden Knights—are educating their millions of fans and customers through broadcasts, television and radio spots, in-venue and out-of-home advertising, digital and social media, and more. As new businesses take advantage of the sports betting opportunity, Have A Game Plan’s message will only increase in importance as we seek to build a sustainable legal market.
While sports betting has provided a new way to engage in gaming, digital payments are modernizing how our customers interact on the casino floor. Digitizing casino payments provides on-demand tools for responsible game play that allow customers to set limits on funding and gaming time, monitor their budget, and track their gambling history. These tools also give operators increased insight into potential problem gambling behavior and the ability to implement automated intervention measures.
Importantly, operators and suppliers continue to integrate responsible gaming into their culture through training and product development. Employee training continues to become more sophisticated through organizations like RG24seven or efforts like DraftKings’ partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance to build a public health model for employee education. Suppliers like Aristocrat are taking an enterprise-wide approach to responsible game play integration, and others are partnering with academics to deepen our understanding of responsibility in an era of expansion—for example, Global Payments’ and Sightline Payments’ work with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Customer education and game play tools, paired with robust employee training, are one end of the RG spectrum. We also have a commitment to provide the resources and tools for those who need help. The primary support tools—problem gambling help lines and self-exclusion programs—need to evolve to meet today’s gaming landscape and a modern casino customer.
Problem gambling help lines, at the state and national level, provide vital support by connecting callers with the resources they need. As it stands, many states require gaming operators to list state-specific problem gambling help lines in their advertising. This is an essential service for localized advertising, but creates confusion and inconsistency in national advertising. The AGA recently released recommendations to streamline these requirements by permitting national gambling advertisements to use national help line numbers that can provide callers with resources or direct them to local programs. This small change can have a tremendous impact by better highlighting available resources.
Self-exclusion lists, which allow players to voluntarily block themselves from gaming sites and properties, have also traditionally been siloed at the state level. In a technology-forward industry, where consumers are constantly moving across state lines and can place wagers at the casino or on their phones, self-exclusion needs to be a more seamless experience. Solutions like Conscious Gaming’s PlayPause program are a step in the right direction. Simplifying the process across operators, mediums and geography will only better serve our industry and customers.
Our customers are also benefiting from gaming innovation. Gamban is allowing users to block gambling sites across their devices, and operators like FanDuel are partnering with the program to give customers free access to its services.
Kindbridge is bringing the telehealth revolution to gaming by connecting those who need help with mental health professionals online, another important step for convenience and privacy. And Entain Foundation U.S., a not-for-profit funded by BetMGM co-parent Entain, recently launched Gamble Responsibly America, a free app that allows players to monitor their gambling behavior and access on-demand responsible gaming and problem gambling resources.
While we’ve made strides, building a sustainable industry requires a new era of responsible gaming. The AGA is eager to drive this conversation forward, starting with Responsible Gaming Education Week 2021.