The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, in a first-in-the-nation move, has teamed up with online sportsbooks and casinos in an effort to identify gamblers who are at risk of developing problem gambling behaviors, the DGE announced Tuesday.
Using information already being collected by the online operators, the DGE is now requiring the operators to analyze the data in an effort to determine if the patron is showing signs of problem gambling — and if the person is showing signs, they will be directly contacted by the state and the operators.
“Under the Murphy Administration, New Jersey has become a national leader in online casino games and sports wagering, and with that growth comes a responsibility to ensure that individuals at risk for compulsive gambling have access to the resources they need to get help,” said Attorney General Matthew Platkin in a press release announcing the initiative.
“It is no coincidence that our announcement comes just a week ahead of one of the biggest days in sports wagering, serving as a reminder of how devastating a gambling addiction can be. This new initiative will allow the Division of Gaming Enforcement to work with the gaming industry to identify problematic patterns in player wagering behavior and intervene before they escalate.”
Planning for the initiative began last March, and it officially launched on Jan. 1.
The data being collected is not new. The DGE points out in the press release that patrons sign user agreements where the data collection is spelled out in the terms and conditions. But the new utilization of the data is a first, as the DGE will “provide proactive, targeted outreach to make patrons aware of what habits they are exhibiting” and assist them with guidance, information, and options to address their problems, per the release.
Observation not enough
As it stood before, the operators were solely responsible for flagging behaviors that might be problematic via observation, but under this new directive, the data itself will be utilized to “pinpoint” players who may need intervention.
The DGE has issued specific parameters for what the operators need to be looking out for. They are: players whose gambling time increases from week to week; bettors who repeatedly self-impose cool-off periods from gaming; those who wager until they have less than one dollar in their accounts; and players who regularly access the self-exclusion page on the operator’s website without acting to exclude themselves.
Additionally, the operators are also to check if any large deposits are being made or if a player is repeatedly requesting higher limits.
“We are using data to identify at-risk players, alert them to their suspected disordered gambling, and inform them about available responsible gambling features in online platforms and corrective actions they can take,” DGE Director David Rebuck said in the release. “This new approach will enable dedicated responsible gaming experts employed by the platforms and us to see the early warning signs and reach at-risk patrons before they find themselves in a financial catastrophe.”
Until now, players were basically on their own to self-diagnose their potential problematic behaviors and address them, such as in setting time and deposit limits on the multitude of sportsbook and casino sites. Now the state itself, along with the operators, will be more proactive with the at-risk customers through multiple steps.
Step one is an automated call or email alerting the player about responsible gaming and resources available. At step two, the player must engage, as they will be forced to view a video that explains responsible gambling and resources available before they are allowed to continue wagering. At the third level, the operators will reach out directly to the patron to address the issues.
“The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey is encouraged by the DGE’s efforts to identify online betting behavior in an effort to assist at-risk gamblers. Given the increasing popularity of online gambling, initiatives such as this are more important than ever,” said council Executive Director Felicia Grondin in the release. “This effort, in conjunction with our virtual and in-person problem gambling trainings for industry employees, makes for a more thorough approach to identify and assist those who may be suffering.”