Laying the RG Foundation: One-on-One with Dr. Jennifer Shatley

The recent formation of the Responsible Online Gaming Association serves as an important milestone in the development of the industry, and Dr. Jennifer Shatley (l.) will play a pivotal role as the organization’s first executive director. Shatley sat down with industry expert Micheal Pollock ahead of next week’s East Coast Gaming Congress.

Laying the RG Foundation: One-on-One with Dr. Jennifer Shatley

Dr. Jennifer Shatley recently assumed the critical role of inaugural executive director of the Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA), and she is a respected professional who is well positioned to take on this responsibility.

Her extensive background in consulting on responsible gaming and in academia at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas will help ensure that iGaming expands in a responsible manner that endeavors to adhere closely to advancing public policy.

Shatley will be speaking on a panel at the upcoming East Coast Gaming Congress (ECGC), April 17-18 at the Hard Rock in Atlantic City. Her panel, “Responsible Gaming: Whose Responsibility?” will be one of the highlights of ECGC, the longest-running gaming conference in the United States now in its 27th year.

The following Q&A was undertaken in advance of that session:

Pollock: What are your specific and general goals for ROGA? In general terms, how do you plan to meet these goals?

Shatley: I’m very excited about the creation of ROGA and to be joining as the executive director. I think the commitments and significant investments made by the member companies present numerous opportunities to advance the field of responsible gaming through research, evidence-based best practices and collaboration.

Generally speaking, our goal is to promote evidence-based responsible gaming practices across the industry, and to empower players through education and RG programs and tools to ensure gaming remains a fun and recreational experience—as it’s intended to be.

Our plan to meet those goals centers on five key areas:

  1. First, we will support and fund independent research on responsible gaming-related issues to understand and enhance responsible gaming measures. Speaking from my academic experience and as someone who has worked in the RG policy space for more than two decades, it is essential that evidence-based approaches are pursued.
  2. Research will shape our efforts to drive RG education and awareness—for both industry and consumer audiences—and inform efforts ranging from encouraging engagement with RG tools to improved responsible advertising and marketing practices within the industry.
  3. We will promote evidence-based best practices that can be adopted across the industry.
  4. All of this will support our effort to establish an independent certification program to assess members’ responsible gaming efforts, providing operators with an objective evaluation of their responsible gaming policies and procedures.
  5. And, finally, we will establish an independent database to facilitate information sharing and allow a mechanism for industry-wide protection of consumers.

If we are successful in these five areas, we will have achieved our goals of prioritizing player wellbeing by empowering players to enjoy themselves with effective RG education and tools in place.

What challenges do you expect to address, and how will you do so?

Generally, the overarching principles for promoting RG are fundamentally the same, regardless of the gaming vertical. One of the challenges is understanding if RG practices that have worked in traditional casinos can or should be adapted to the online environment.

To that end, a fundamental part of ROGA’s mission will be supporting rigorous academic research into innovative approaches that may be more effective in the online environment. Online platforms do offer advantages by providing readily accessible responsible gaming tools for players to set personal limits. Additionally, they facilitate seamless integration of responsible gaming programs into the customer experience, enabling personalized promotion of responsible gaming efforts.

It’s important to remember that RG policy is intricate and requires ongoing assessment to ensure effectiveness. Research plays a crucial role in its development, helping policymakers understand the true impacts of RG programs. As RG continues to gain recognition and evolve within the gaming industry, continuous evaluation through research, data analysis and player feedback is imperative to gauge efficacy and drive improvement. And part of ROGA’s focus is to drive the creation of evidence-based best practices in order to enhance existing responsible online gaming efforts across the industry.

How will you address any concerns that your efforts could ultimately be viewed as limiting to the efforts of ROGA’s members?

I do not see a conflict between promoting responsible gaming and allowing our members to provide their customers with an engaging form of entertainment. In fact, I think the two go hand-in-hand. Robust RG programs create positive and enjoyable experiences for players, while contributing to the sustainability of the industry. The truth is that every consumer can benefit from RG tools and information. The real challenge is a better understanding—based on academic research—of what works and what doesn’t. That is where our mission comes in.

How will ROGA work with other gaming operators, particularly land-based casinos, to ensure a uniform approach to responsible gaming?

ROGA will encourage collaboration amongst a variety of related interests to ensure robust responsible gaming policies driven by science across the industry.

Articles by Author: Michael Pollock

Michael Pollock recently retired after more than two decades as Managing Director of Spectrum Gaming Group. He now holds the emeritus title of Senior Policy Advisor. He is a former gaming regulator, award-winning journalist and university professor.