AGA: Making the most of the #RGEM toolkit

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Everyone in the industry certainly seems aware it is Responsible Gambling Education Month but when it comes to what they can and should be doing this month, there seems to be less clarity.

For example, many might not be aware that there is an entire toolkit provided by the American Gaming Association for operators and others in the industry to promote responsible gambling.

AGA Vice President of Strategic Communications and Responsibility Cait DeBaun spoke with SBC Americas about RGEM and said the goal with the toolkit was to make it as plug-and-play as possible.

“We want to make sure that it’s turnkey and easy to engage with responsible gaming education. So every year we put up a toolkit with new resources that if you’re on the comms side, the marketing side, if you’re a content creator, there’s something in there for you,” she noted. “It’s not just for the industry. We also have resources in there that are relevant for regulators, for policymakers, and for advocates. We want to make sure everybody in the gaming space appreciates their responsibility.”

Responsible Gambling Education Month only expanded to a month recently, but Responsible Gambling Education Week dates back 25 years.

“It was originally intended to focus on employee training and drive awareness around responsible gaming and awareness around problem gambling, and it’s evolved over the years to be much bigger than that. It’s not just about training, but also an opportunity for the industry to highlight their commitments to RG to talk with their customers more about it,” DeBaun said.

The choice of September as the month to do that has its benefits, namely where it lands on the sports calendar.

“NFL season is back, and obviously, it’s a big time for sportsbooks. So, we leverage that opportunity to drive awareness both among our employees but also our customers about the tools available for gaming and how to have a fun, positive play experience.”

Looking through the UNLV archives of responsible gambling materials, some of the messaging is remarkably similar to what is still being used today. Plenty of other messages have developed over the years though, especially as new forms of gaming are moving into the limelight. Talking about how to play roulette responsibly is not exactly apples to apples compared to betting the total of the Monday Night Football game responsibly.

“Obviously, with sports betting, we’ve had to change how we talk about this to make it relevant because, at the end of the day, the message of responsible gaming is ensuring that customers keep this a fun thing,” she said. “Know the odds, set budgets, play socially, and know that there’s help available if they need it. And I think how we communicate that is still something that we’re all learning.”

One topic that often arises in discussions around responsible gambling is that the alcohol industry has managed to successfully educate people into understanding that making responsible choices while drinking isn’t an indicator you have a problem, it is simply something everyone should be mindful of doing.

DeBaun and others hope that awareness campaigns like Responsible Gambling Education Month get the word out about what kinds of resources are available to all bettors to ensure their wagering stays fun and stress-free.

“We have great tools, especially in the online space. There are more resources available to help monitor and regulate your own behavior. But a lot of people see those tools as for people who have problems. ‘I can do this on my own. I don’t need a tool to help me,’ so I think that is a conversation that’s ongoing,” she said. “There’s also a conversation that is ongoing about how do we make RG resonate? How do we continue to raise the bar so that the messages that we’re creating and tools we’re amplifying, are helping people have a fun and engaging experience?”

Right now, responsible gambling messaging can often feel disparate from other forms of casino marketing. With this month focusing on educating both bettors and workforce, content creators are a group that can help RG messaging resonate. When asked what content creators can do to better incorporate responsible gambling messaging into everyday marketing, DeBaun suggested the answer might be in how that marketing is delivered.

“I think something that is really important is balance with the content that we create. Some of this is driven by marketing code. We do an annual training for our members on tenants of responsible marketing code for sports wagering, but we also are often just having conversations about the tone. We don’t ever want content that suggests financial success, chasing losses, or glorifying negative gambling behavior,” she offered. “I think what’s most important is for people to just be thoughtful about it. And if you’re in that space where you’re creating content that’s consumer-facing, seek out the resources. The experts are some of the smartest people in this space that all want to be informative and helpful to make sure that it’s a fun and sustainable environment.”

As Responsible Gambling Education Month celebrates its 25th iteration, the industry can also celebrate that the group of people concerned about promoting RG is growing beyond just those experts in the research field. Oftentimes stories of underage or problem gambling dominate the headlines because they are the more dramatic stories, but DeBaun would love to see more content looking at what the industry is doing right.

“It’s been interesting as the dialogue has continued over the last year or so with major news stories around the industry. What I find stories sometimes lack is how much passion there is in this space for responsible gaming and getting this right.”

Of course, both the AGA and the industry know that the pursuit of encouraging responsible gambling is not something that is solved and then put aside. Over the past two decades, the messaging has continued to develop and will continue to develop going forward. That is why this month will always have a place of importance in the industry, for it is a time for everyone to reflect, educate, and brainstorm what everyone can do better next September.