March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month in the United States, and the subject of responsible gambling has never been more important than in 2021, amid the rapid transformation of the national gaming landscape to incorporate mobile sports betting and internet gaming. At the time of writing, sports betting is regulated in 21 states, while internet casino gaming is live in six states. Meanwhile, legislation to authorize sports betting is pending in 15 states, while five states are considering some form of online gaming legislation.
As online gambling expansion continues across the U.S., state legislators and gaming regulators have begun to pay increasingly more attention to responsible gambling and holding operators accountable for failure to comply with the necessary requirements.
The graphic above illustrates nine of the most common responsible gaming measures required by state law and/or regulation in iGaming states. The chart outlines which iGaming states require each of the measures listed above.
In newly-launched markets, enabling sports-betting legislation in Tennessee requires licensees to implement responsible sports wagering programs that include training employees on how to identify and respond to signs of gambling addiction.
In Michigan, online gaming regulations require operators to provide players with an easy and obvious method to impose limitations, including, but not limited to, deposits, wagers, and time-based limitations.
Meanwhile, regulators are also taking action to ensure operators are in compliance with responsible gambling requirements.
In January 2021, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) issued an advisory bulletin to online gambling operators regarding delays in customer withdrawal requests and warning of further enforcement action in the event of bonuses being offered to patrons to reverse their withdrawals and keep money in their accounts.
Elsewhere, in July 2020, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) approved a series of fines including a $6,500 penalty against DraftKings for accepting bets from self-excluded players and $12,000 against Rising Star Casino for allowing an underage patron in its sportsbook.
The Future of U.S. Responsible Gambling
New markets bring new opportunities but that often comes with more rigorous regulation. As more states introduce online gaming and sports betting, additional scrutiny and compliance oversight are expected as regulators enforce rules to protect consumers.
In certain jurisdictions, regulators and operators alike have already begun exploring the use of responsible gambling tools not necessarily required by state law, allowing organizations to be better prepared to capitalize on new growth and commercial opportunities. Three recent examples of further responsible gambling initiatives include:
- December 2020: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced the deployment of Conscious Gaming’s PlayPause, an innovative self-exclusion tool that allows patrons to exclude from internet gaming on a multi-jurisdictional basis.
- March 2021: FanDuel became the first sports-betting operator to partner with the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) responsible sports-betting initiative through the AGA’s “Have A Game Plan. Bet Responsibly” public service campaign, joining NASCAR, the National Hockey League and golf’s PGA TOUR in the program.
- March 2021: Kindred takes important industry first step offering Gamban software to U.S. customers.
These initiatives are a sign of operators and regulators alike demonstrating a commitment to responsible gambling, by taking proactive steps to minimize problem gambling and protect consumers from harm.
It is critical for organizations to monitor and stay informed of the increasing volume of new and existing compliance obligations across the U.S. With responsible gambling requirements a critical component in the future of expansion initiatives, operators, in particular, must equip themselves with the tools necessary to reduce the risk of fines, license revocation alongside damage to brand and reputation.
As regulators continue to explore new and innovative responsible gambling tools, operators will benefit from adopting a framework that goes beyond what is merely required by state gaming law. Operators may consider tighter “know your customer” standards, stronger controls around the availability of funds, or increased responsible gambling training for employees.
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