U.S. Operators, Regulators Push More Usage Of Responsible Gaming Tools

March 14, 2024
Although operators continue to offer a suite of responsible gaming tools, convincing players to use them has been an uphill battle, according to U.S. executives and regulators.

Although operators continue to offer a suite of responsible gaming tools, convincing players to use them has been an uphill battle, according to U.S. executives and regulators.

A study conducted of 2019 player data in New Jersey by the Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies, released in December, found that less than 2 percent of players used tools offered by operators, such as setting deposit limits, loss limits, or requesting either a short cooling-off period or a more permanent self-exclusion.

Reports from operators to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission using more recent data have shown similar results, said Cathy Judd-Stein, the chair of the commission, during an appearance at the Responsible Gaming Symposium at the NEXT Gaming Summit in New York last week.

“We really are learning that those tools that we've mandated with respect to restrictions like timeout advice, on cooling-off periods, on deposit limits, they're just not being used,” she said.

“We have our applicants demonstrate to us how responsible gaming tools are being used, how they will be conspicuously available, and yet they’re reporting to us it’s like less than 5 percent, even sometimes less than 1 percent.”

One challenge operators and responsible gaming advocates say is getting players to be proactive in setting limits rather than reactive.

“It's not just for someone who might have a problem, it’s not because you have a problem; it’s so you don’t develop one or you can give yourself safe parameters,” said Chrissy Thurmond, head of responsible gaming for DraftKings. “I think that’s one of the misconceptions.”

Brianne Doura-Schawohl, a responsible gambling policy consultant, said that the presentation of the tools can make players self-conscious about using them proactively.

“The problem is it’s kind of stigmatizing when you make it 20 clicks away in a different font, a different color,” she said. “Who wants to be like, if I think the tools are for someone with a gambling problem, yes, I’d like to identify as that please, that sounds great. 

“The way we’re talking about it, the way we’re framing it, the way we’re offering it right now, it’s just not working.”

She added that commercial interests may still play a role for some operators in how responsible gambling tools are presented.

“I think people are willing to have a more candid dialogue around, what are our RG tools, are we displaying them effectively?” Doura-Schawohl said. “But I think there's still, by and large, I’ll say the quiet part of that out loud, RG tools will prevent revenue, RG tools are going to prevent play, and that's scary for a lot of people right now.”

Judd-Stein said that although she believes operators have put forward the effort in making the tools more welcoming for players, more research on the tools' effectiveness will be needed going forward.

“We are looking for innovations, and they’re doing a great job of trying to figure out how to destigmatize those tools, but it is a frustration where we may have guessed wrong on that,” she said.

“We’re going to have to do research, we’re going to have to follow trends from all of our fellow regulators and the industry to figure out if there’s a better path to take or if is it a matter of education and marketing.”

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