The American Gaming Association (AGA) spelled out some of the key issues around responsible gaming recently with a trio of industry experts contributing to a webinar titled Extending Our Responsibility With the Growth of Legal Gaming.
Taking their place on the panel were Anna Sainsbury, Founder and Chairman, GeoComply/GeoGuard; Becky Harris, Distinguished Fellow in igaming and Leadership at UNLV, International Gaming Institute; and Richard Taylor Jr, Responsible Gambling Program Manager at BetMGM. Moderating duties fell to Cait DeBaun, Senior Director Strategic Communications & Responsibility at the AGA.
Among the topics for discussion was the significant amount of change in the market place around responsible gambling. Kicking off proceedings, Sainsbury commented: “As we have seen sports betting grow we have had so much interest from investors, international markets and regulators looking at how they can expand and embrace sports betting and I think that this has essentially propelled the growth in our industry.
“Also, are the processes that we have integrated over the past years the ones that we need to continue going forward? This has created an opportunity and the biggest change we’ve seen is people really taking the time to assess what they have put in place in the past, look at new science-based research that has come out – and then we’re looking for tools. I think that we have a lot of people pooling in, wanting change and wanting technical solutions to help us get to where we want to get to, help support players and initiate player well-being practices.”
Turning to the subject of how the US sports betting sector can learn from the experiences of markets such as the UK, Harris stated: “Our experience (US) is very young, but we do know that we have significant pieces of our population that have challenges. One of the interesting things in the US is that we don’t have any Federal funding for problem gambling or responsible gambling. But as the US begins to expand its legal regulated sports betting market legislators will look for additional sources of revenue and I think it’s going to be through the legalization and taxation of online casinos.
“More mature markets such as those in the UK and Australia really do have a lot for us to learn in terms of the experiences they’ve gone through. They can provide context and experience for the US for everything on how to prevent underage gambling to establishing online payment protection to protection of patrons’ privacy, safety measures that need to be employed against criminal activity and identifying the kind of protection for those who are vulnerable or susceptible to gambling disorders and addictions.”
When pushed on how the sector can make sure that new entrants understand their role in creating a safer gambling environment, Taylor Jr responded: “I think it starts with basic education about RG and PG and for me the way I learned was by attending these conferences around the country and talking to organizations who have been doing this since way before I was even born.
“You have the National Council on Problem Gambling and the International Center for Responsible Gaming. You have organizations up in Canada that are frankly five or 10 years ahead of us on this in this area who have been doing some really interesting and compelling things. And then of course our state councils and our local groups and what they’re doing.
“I would encourage them (new market entrants) and anyone who hasn’t been exposed to this in a deep way to sign up to go to these conferences to talk to the attendees. We need to be part of the conversation and we need to show up. Anyone who is involved in making a profit from this activity, they need to show up.
“And we all need to work together collaboratively even though our interests may not always align. We must always have that line of communication between each other to express our concerns and to provide suggestions on how we can do this better. Because I think that’s the best way for us to minimize the most amount of harm and still be profitable and to provide revenues that are badly needed by states.