NCPG blasts igaming regulations in four states as ‘insufficient’ to protect consumers

NCPG - lawyer signing papers
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The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has criticized igaming regulations in four of the seven legalized US markets for falling ‘drastically short’ of its minimum responsible gambling standards. 

NCPG noted that legislation and practices in Delaware, Michigan, Nevada and West Virginia do not meet the necessary standards that it expects in terms of providing players with sufficient RG protections. 

Publishing a report titled US Online Responsible Gaming Regulations: An Evaluation Against National Council on Problem Gambling Standards, the body compared state igaming regulations against its Internet Responsible Gambling Standards (IRGS), developed in 2012 to help guide discussions among igaming stakeholders. 

The report monitored 59 key strands of responsible gaming measures across nine umbrellas: policy, staff training, supporting informed decision-making, assisting players, self-exclusion, advertising and promotion, game and website features, research, and payments.

NCPG calls out igaming laws across the US

Lambasting the regulations in several states, NCPG noted that, of the 59 indicators, the legislation in Delaware meets only 29 and fails to provide express coverage across RG strategy, deposit/time/spend limits, time outs and access to help for players who are struggling with their gambling. 

Similar failures were identified in the legislation in Michigan, West Virginia and Nevada, which NCPG claims all also lack sufficient measures across RG strategies, providing access to help, and providing research. 

A spokesperson for NCPG stated: “Igaming regulations in Delaware, Michigan, Nevada and West Virginia do not mandate operators provide players with sufficient responsible gambling protections. Regulations from Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania met a majority of the standards outlined in the IRGS, but still fall short of meeting the full list. 

“IRGS sets the standard for consumers to ensure whichever operator they choose; they can be confident that the platform has the responsible gambling tools necessary to assist in playing safely.”

Will anything change?

It is important to mention that the NCPG’s IRGS standards have no legal mandate to be enforced and that legislators have no obligation to redraw the igaming laws in their respective states. 

However, at a time when sports betting and gaming operators are coming in for increasing levels of scrutiny over RG measures and advertising, particularly highlighted in the series of New York Times expose articles at the back end of 2022, operators and legislators are likely to want to be seen to be operating in a more responsible manner. 

Lobbying for change

Moving forward, the NCPG is calling for public health funding to be placed front and center of any new strategy to tackle problem gambling. 

It believes that funding research, education and treatment of the impact of problem gambling is the most efficient way of tackling the issues. 

Meanwhile, the body is calling upon legislators in each of the seven legalized igaming states – and those who are aiming to legalize online gaming in the future – to adopt the IGRS standards within their frameworks. 

An NCPG statement read: “The most ethical and cost-effective response to gambling addiction issues raised by internet gambling is a comprehensive public health strategy that includes prevention, education, treatment and research services. Responsible gambling standards are an important aspect of this approach. 

“NCPG recommends every state with igaming or those looking to legalize igaming adopt the IRGS standards to best protect consumers from the negative consequences of gambling.”