New Jersey Regulator Urges National Adoption Of Responsible Gambling Standards

February 9, 2023
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Online casino and sportsbook operators should apply New Jersey’s newly effective best practices in jurisdictions across the country to lead policy discussions on responsible gambling, according to the state’s chief gaming regulator.

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Online casino and sportsbook operators should apply New Jersey’s newly effective best practices in jurisdictions across the country to lead policy discussions on responsible gambling, according to the state’s chief gaming regulator.

New best practices applicable to all licensed internet gaming and sports-betting operators in New Jersey took effect on January 1 but were publicized for the first time this week by the state’s Attorney General’s Office and Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) ahead of Super Bowl LVII.

As previously reported by VIXIO GamblingCompliance, the best practices require operators to deploy systems to trigger alerts for specialist teams to intervene based on specific deposit thresholds or player activities indicating potential concerns of problem gambling.

All 50 of New Jersey’s online casinos and sportsbook brands have agreed to abide by the guidelines, which were developed through a dialogue between regulators and the industry, DGE director David Rebuck told delegates on Wednesday (February 8) at the ICE gambling expo in London.

The standards are a first-of-their-kind in the U.S., although algorithmic monitoring of play patterns is either a regulatory requirement or expectation in Ontario as well as in various European markets.

In Colorado, new regulations adopted in December will similarly require licensed online sportsbook operators to soon submit formal responsible gaming plans to regulators that include details of how they use technology to “provide automated triggers on potential problem gamblers.”

But there is no reason why New Jersey operators should not be applying the state’s best practices in markets across the country, according to Rebuck.

“When I meet with [operators’] leadership, who are also in all those states throughout the United States whether it’s for sports [betting] or [online] casino, or both, I can’t control them, but I look at them and say, ‘this is operational in New Jersey; why are you not operational [with responsible gambling monitoring] for sports wagering online with the same points in Ohio, or West Virginia, or New York, or Maryland, or the 25 states that have online sports wagering?’

“And there’s one reason: they don’t have to do it.”

Operators will already be incurring the cost for play monitoring software and technology in New Jersey, Rebuck said.

“I’ve talked to some of the CEOs and I have meetings coming up with them, and I tell them right to their face, ‘be a leader’,” said the New Jersey DGE director.

“You worry about commercial disadvantage? Be a leader. At some point in time in the future, this is going to be mandated by the regulators. Be a leader, get it behind you. You don’t have to prove to New Jersey; prove to the rest of the country, this is a critical point to you.”

The responsible gambling best practices that took effect and were published last month are the third set of informal standards developed by the DGE to address emerging regulatory issues related to online gaming and mobile sports wagering.

Best practices for know your customer (KYC) protocols and cybersecurity, including obligations for players to use multi-factor identification, took effect earlier last year.

The best practices are not enforceable regulations, although they could be adopted as such in the future. Their non-binding nature means regulators retain more leeway to iterate them as they are implemented, without requiring a formal rulemaking process.

A fourth set of best practices related to advertising and marketing has also been shared in draft form with operators, with the DGE understood to be awaiting feedback before bringing those new guidelines into effect in the coming months.

Speaking at ICE, Rebuck expressed optimism that the United States was now seeing a “perfect storm” to develop enhanced responsible gambling measures addressing sports betting, online gambling and traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.

Still, a key step will be the wider use of player-monitoring technologies traditionally deployed by marketing departments to instead assess player behavior from a responsible gambling standpoint.

Also critical is more academic research regarding problem gambling and the effectiveness of different approaches to mitigate addiction, said Rebuck and Jaime Costello, program director for the National Council of Problem Gambling based in Washington, D.C.

Joining Rebuck for the ICE discussion, Costello said she was encouraged that the focus on responsible gaming seems to be growing and improving across the industry at large.

But while states, gambling companies and other parties build a system, it will be important to use data to assess which programs and policies are working.

Meanwhile, operators will also have to “make changes that not required, but are the right thing to do,” Costello said.

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