AGA: Tech Could Offer Early Detection for Problem Gamblers

Rather than treat the problem after it’s well established, experts at a webinar sponsored by the AGA say technology could provide an early detection system. Operators can already leverage data.

AGA: Tech Could Offer Early Detection for Problem Gamblers

The future for responsible gaming will revolve around casino technology to identify and help at-risk patrons before they develop a gambling problem, at least according to a recent panel sponsored by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

“Operators have the ability now to leverage all the data they’re collecting,” Afshien Lashkari of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said September 15 during an AGA webinar. “We want to take advantage of that and utilize that information to essentially try to develop an early-warning system for these operators.”

Anika Howard, CEO and president of WONDR NATION, the online-gaming division for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said the responsible gaming effort involves suppliers, operators, regulators, nonprofit organizations, and researchers. Changes in consumer behavior, especially the increasing use of mobile devices require a shifting approach, according to CDC Gaming Reports.

“We need to align the messaging and the tools that we give players with how those behaviors are changing,” she said. “Make sure that we meet people where they are.”

The shift goes from reactive on the one to two percent of the population with a gambling problem, to proactive. “How do we promote positive play?” Mark Vander Linden, director of research and responsible gaming for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). “What does safer gambling look like? What information do people need in order to stay in a safe recreational zone?”

He mentioned how the MGC and the state’s three casinos launched a program called PlayMyWay, which lets players track their spending, their gambling budget and more using a rewards card.

Vander Linden said the gaming industry recognizes that the advertising issue is “really complicated,” partially because the state has no control over national advertising and partially because it doesn’t want to give an advantage to illegal operators. “It would be great if responsible gaming advertising stood alone to kind of balance out the advertising that exists for sports wagering and other forms of gambling,” he said.

Lashkari said online gaming eliminates the anonymous play possibility in a land-based casino. “It makes it easier to reach out to the appropriate people who need the additional information as far as education is concerned. The operators have the ability to say, ‘Wait a minute; we know who this is, we know what we have to do, we put the right tools in the right people’s hands, and they just need to do their due diligence.’”

Vander Linden cautioned that the evolving state of responsible gaming “is not easy.”

“It’s not about just providing information anymore. It’s driving ahead and anticipating what customers need and how we can move toward sustaining responsible gaming, sustaining recreational play, and how we modify gambling behaviors in a way that reduces gambling-related harm. … There’s an enormous potential in that space.”