AGA’s Cait DeBaun: Sustainable sports betting requires collective player education commitment

American Gaming Association’s Cait DeBaun speaks to SBC about Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly, AI interventions, and responsible gaming education efforts.
Image: American Gaming Association

As part of Responsible Gaming Education Month 2022, SBC Americas has spoken to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Vice President of Strategic Communications & Responsibility, Cait DeBaun, about the AGA’s and the gaming industry’s responsible gaming efforts.

DeBaun was asked about the AGA’s responsible gaming initiative ‘Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly’, the role sports leagues/organizations play in spreading the responsible gaming message, if more AI interventions are the right direction for the industry to go in, and areas of responsible gaming education which need improvements. 

SBC: September for the US gaming industry is Responsible Gaming Education Month. Why is the month so important for the industry?

DeBaun: Responsible gaming is a top priority for the AGA and our members, and this month provides a moment to celebrate, reflect and reinforce our responsible leadership. As legal gaming has grown, so has our commitment to responsibility.

This year, we expanded from a week to a month-long observance to reflect the growing interest in responsible gaming and allow everyone engaged more space to participate.

SBC: In 2019, the AGA launched its own responsible gaming initiative, Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly. Since its inception, how has this initiative developed and evolved to the changing gaming landscape in the US?

DeBaun: Have a Game Plan has grown in tandem with the legal US sports betting industry. Since the campaign launched in 2019, it has gained broad support from sports leagues and teams, media companies, gaming operators and suppliers, and others.

Today, Have a Game Plan has 30 campaign partners across the sports betting ecosystem, advancing consumer education through co-branded PSAs placed on social media, websites, apps, in-venue displays, broadcasts, and more.

Beyond the direct consumer education, the campaign has served to demonstrate our members’ leadership and ensured new stakeholders understand their responsibility for responsibility. 

SBC: The PGA Tour has launched a new campaign, in support of the AGA’s Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly initiative, to educate golf fans on responsible sports betting. How important is it for sports leagues/organizations to spread responsible gaming messages and not just operators?

DeBaun: Building a sustainable sports betting market requires a collective commitment to player education. As the access to legal sports betting expands, it is incumbent on everyone in the sports betting ecosystem — including operators, leagues, teams, and media — to ensure we’re continuing to promote responsibility as consumers learn about this new opportunity. 

The PGA TOUR has been a leader among leagues in advancing responsible gaming in a way that is authentic to their brand voice and audience interest.

SBC: In 2019, the AGA published its Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, outlining the marketing and advertising standard for sports betting operators. Are you happy with the industry’s response toward meeting these compliance requirements since they were released?

DeBaun: The gaming industry set a high bar out of the gate when it launched the Responsible Marketing Code on Sports Wagering in 2019, and we continue to live up to that standard. The code has been widely supported by leagues, broadcasters, and regulators. 

Given the growth and innovation of our industry, we continue to evaluate the code with our members to ensure it reflects current market considerations as the sports betting landscape matures. 

SBC: Do you think more AI intervention is the right direction for responsible gaming to go in? Or should the human element still have a bigger presence in interventions?

DeBaun: Both employees and technology have an important role to play in promoting responsible gaming. Employees are the frontline for responsible gaming and interact with customers daily. Both operators and suppliers invest significant time each year to ensure their staff have the knowledge and skills to deliver responsible gaming tips and engage with customers who may need assistance.

On the other hand, technology provides many benefits for player protection. With the growth of mobile gaming and payments modernization, we have created the opportunity to not only empower players with self-limiting tools but also understand player behavior and provide support and tools when we see unusual or concerning engagement. We should be investing in both the human element and technology to continue to build a sustainable market.

SBC: Are there any areas of responsible gaming education which need improvements?

DeBaun: The future of responsible gaming is bright in the US, as evidenced by the growth in this space over the past few years. Our members are deeply engaged and sincerely committed to keeping gaming fun, and safe entertainment. We need to ensure responsible gaming does not become stagnant. This means continued collaboration, investments in research, and innovation through technology. 

At the AGA, we are working to define what a modern approach to responsibility looks like and ways in which we can bring together practitioners, advocates, regulators, and academics to collectively evolve responsible gaming.