The American Gaming Association (AGA) has issued a new recommendation this week, urging gaming companies to include national gambling helplines as part of their nationwide advertising campaigns.
The organization noted that while most customers enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment, the helplines – which number more than a dozen – offer essential services to those who find themselves experiencing problems with their gambling participation.
The new AGA policy statement encourages streamlined requirements for national advertising campaigns which would allow operators to improve disclaimer readability and better highlight problem gambling resources.
Vice President of Government Relations and Gaming Policy Counsel Jessica Feil stated: “Problem gambling helplines are a vital resource for those in need of help. Unfortunately, lengthy lists of state-specific helplines on national advertisements create barriers for those seeking help when we should be making these critical resources easily accessible.
“This approach – allowing the use of a national helpline in national advertising – is the most effective way to protect players.”
Each state has its own specific requirements for including problem gambling disclaimers in published and broadcasted advertisements. This is an essential service for localized advertising but creates confusion and inconsistency in national advertising.
The consequences for problem gamblers manifest in several ways, including diminished awareness. Requirements to display multiple national and state-specific helpline numbers can result in more than a dozen phone numbers in difficult to read fonts, reducing accessibility to those in need.
It also leads to customer confusion, said the AGA. Multiple helpline numbers cause consumer uncertainty, since many problem gamblers may not know which number is the appropriate number to call. For example, is it based on where they reside or where they are gambling?
The association further advised that the requirement for problem gamblers to use a call-in helpline overlooks more modern services used for crisis assistance, like text messaging and chat support.
“As gaming expands across the country, it’s imperative that our industry continues protecting all customers. We believe there shouldn’t be obstacles to help for those who need it, and a modernization of the helpline system for national advertising is a good place to start,” added Feil.