In the world of today, technological advances are happening at a faster rate than ever.
Understanding the tools available and a consumer’s technology needs is a challenge faced by many industries. The same can be said for many advocacy groups.
Responsible Gaming certainly fits that mold.
As part of Responsible Gambling Education Monththe American Gaming Association recently hosted a webinar with industry leaders on how technology is changing the way gambling is played.
Learn on the fly
Raising awareness of responsible gambling and problem gambling has become a priority in recent years. It is due to the expansion of online sports betting and iGaming around the country.
The RG philosophies that apply to retail casinos are very different from what is needed for online gambling. In this regard, responsible gambling awareness is still somewhat new to its online efforts.
“I think we’re like that teenage position. We all sort of figured out where we are on our own, and now we’re starting to come together. Now we can understand how we can work together and how all of these voices, although they are different opinions, different voices and different perspectives, how they come together to create such a great thing. I think it’s an exciting time for RG right now. There’s a lot of growth and learning going on,” said Jamie Costello, director of programs at the National Council on Problem Gambling.
One of the notable changes recently has been the adjustment of the National Problem Gambling Helpline from 1-800-522-4700 to 1-800-PLAYER (426-2537). This is a more recognizable and easier to remember number for people calling for help.
Ability to find help for problem gambling in private
The NCPG is also work on texting system transition to a more identifiable number. They recognize that some players may be afraid to talk to a stranger on the phone at first.
Messaging systems have become an important aspect of RP awareness across all gaming platforms.
Personal anonymity is important when discussing a potential addiction problem. In today’s online gaming world, users have the ability to search for answers privately from their computers and phones.
Now responsible gambling advocacy groups can also have private message conversations with those who ask for help. It’s a more discreet and anonymous way to get direct information that they can use.
“It is possible to get so many more tools and educate (online). I think there is also the element of online anonymity, which can be seen as a barrier to responsible gaming and player protection. But it can also be a barrier for people seeking help,” Costello said. “I might not be likely to pick up a brochure in a store or at a treatment center. But online, I can view these tools and use them, without you knowing.
The online player feels comfortable in their own private setting. This is where RG advocates also think they will be more comfortable looking for useful information.
“I think that’s where we come in with a lot of people struggling with gambling issues, they’re not ready to admit it publicly. But, they kind of explore that internally, or families and friends are exploring this internally,” Costello added. “Using technology gives them the opportunity to do this in a space they feel comfortable in. I think technology really gives us that opportunity.”
How Operators Play a Role in Responsible Gaming
Online sports betting and online gambling also offer operators a lot of metric information that retail casinos can’t quite provide.
Every bet, wheel spin or deposit is recorded in an electronic logbook that operators can analyze.
Although some users may be uncomfortable with the idea, it can also be a protective shield for responsible gambling.
“Ultimately, the challenge is trying to properly identify players who might be harmed. That’s clearly what data, technology and explainable AI are helping us do,” said Charmaine Hogan, head of regulatory affairs at Playtech “You are able to focus on the individual player. You are able to watch all types of players and intervene appropriately and accordingly. You walk away or are allowed to walk away of a unique approach. So not just the traditional approach. You now add to that, and you try to spot those signs of problem gambling early on and intervene accordingly.
Operators can now use their data to recognize when a player is sporadic or shows signs of problem gambling.
From there, operators can directly and privately contact a user and guide them through the available RG options. These may include GR tools like deposit and bet limits, or time limits on the app.
“I mean, the beauty of it is that it’s not just a dashboard that counts how much time or money you’ve spent online. It’s about looking at payment systems, methods payout, fluctuating usage How often do you increase your frequency Are you chasing losses Are deposits decreasing Am I playing later and later These are all markers keys which in turn can be given to the operator and can encourage them to contact the user for help and direction,” Hogan added.
Hogan noted that when PlayTech intervened with a user, 1 in 3 players set a deposit limit within an hour of a chat.
Do operators really want to help?
To some, it may seem contradictory whether a casino operator wants to help a compulsive gambler or endorse responsible gambling.
But, having knowledgeable and responsible players as consumers creates a longer relationship between player and operator.
During the early stages of the football season, we saw less advertising from online sports betting operators and an increase in promotional material from RG.
You’ve probably seen the recent post from DraftKings responsible gambling social media ads who introduced the skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and WWE The Miz.
DraftKings also recently pushed its education centerswhich are on the application to allow new users to better understand how online gambling works.
“One of the things I’m really proud of is that we’ve created education hubs. Before someone starts or has to spend money and commit, they can go to an education center and get step-by-step instructions, through tutorials and videos, on how to play the different games, how to read odds, etc. said Christine H. Thurmond, director of responsible gaming at DraftKings.
All operators are also required to offer responsible gambling tools which we discussed earlier. Thurmond thinks these tools still carry a stigma that RG advocates must continue to work to eliminate.
“The ability to de-stigmatize tool use is hugely important because we see tools as a wonderful setting for people to define a gaming experience that’s most meaningful to them,” Thurmond said. “So we really encourage people to use them. We have tools, and we explain how to use the tools and how to interact with our tools. I think that’s really important.
All on deck for responsible gaming
A clear message from this week’s webinar was that all RG defenders form a united front.
No matter which operator or company one works for, they all work together to make positive progress in responsible gaming.
“Collaboration is the key. Really, in the end, we all want the same thing,” Costello said. “We all want players who are struggling to get the help they need. At the end of the day, it might look different for all of us who would get there with different colored glasses. But at the end of the day, it might look different. is what we all want. I think we are getting there.
Advances in technology, combined with collaborative industry efforts, should also help bring about positive change.
“What technology allows us to do is provide more resources, more information, more contacts to state boards where people reside,” Thurmond said. “We can pass this information to people and we can provide collaborative information as a group. When the message comes from one collective voice, it has a greater impact.
Responsible Gambling Education Month ends this week. However, advocates want the discussion to stay at the forefront of all things online gambling.
“It has to be part of our culture,” Costello said. “Responsible gaming should be part of every conversation. When we talk about marketing and customer acquisition, it should be part of the conversation. We don’t talk about healthy eating without talking about fruits and vegetables, we wouldn’t No. So we can’t have a conversation in any gaming environment without talking about responsible gaming.
If you or someone you know needs help with a gambling-related problem, you can call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Problem Gambling Hotline at 1-800- 270-7117 for local assistance.