As a sports betting bill is progressing through committees in Minnesota, the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MAPG) is calling for information sharing to help gaming addiction. The current bill calls for 40% of revenue to address problem gambling. Susan Sheridan Tucker, the executive director of MAPG, said while she appreciates the bill’s current language, adding information sharing will be highly beneficial.
Operators and their licensees will be collecting quite a bit of data that can help answer many questions that researchers have concerning gambling behaviors and can provide insights into whether more individuals are becoming addicted to gambling.
Under the proposal, operators won’t share personal information, such as the names of the individuals. Tucker also added that other states are already requiring information sharing from operators. The bill‘s sponsors said they’re interested in the idea and will have further discussion. According to many publications, problem gambling is an issue and has been rising since the expansion of sports betting across the US.
Some States Are Already Tracking Activity
Like many things in the online gambling world, New Jersey is ahead of the rest.
The Garden State is the first to initiate information sharing to fight problem gambling. The state launched the Responsible Gaming Initiative on Jan. 1.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) works with online gaming and betting operators to identify and address at-risk players. The DGE will analyze data to determine whether a player is showing signs of problem gambling.
The Responsible Gaming Initiative adds to the state’s existing responsible gaming rules. Operators are to train their staff to identify red flags. Once an at-risk player is identified, a responsible gaming staff member will contact them.
As set by the DGE, operators will be looking for the following red flags:
- Players who increase their gaming time on a week-to-week basis
- Players who have set multiple cool-off periods
- Players who wager until they have less than $1 in their account
- Players who access the self-exclusion form but do not submit
Another state that tracks user activity is Pennsylvania. While it has not implemented a program to fight problem gambling like New Jersey, it uses the information for research. Also, the Pennsylvania code requires operators to show log-in history, including time since the last log-in, wager activity, and more. Players can also request a report of their activity.
While not tracking, Illinois is also looking to implement more features to fight problem gambling. A new bill would require operators to show pop-up messages after every 10 wagers. The message will direct players to gambling addiction assistance websites.
As Sports Betting Expands, Gambling Addiction Increases
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), approximately 2 million adults in the US fall under the “pathological” gambling category. Another 4 million to 6 million are considered to have gambling problems.
The NCPG also estimates that problem gambling is at least twice as high among sports bettors than the lottery and retail casino players. According to NCPG, the number of people who lie to hide gambling and feel irritated when trying to quit or cut down gambling has doubled since sports betting legalization.
Many states are seeing an increase in calls to problem gambling helplines. For example, Ohio, which legalized sports betting on Jan. 1, saw a 227% increase in calls from January 2022 to January 2023. Also, from December 2022 (the last month before launch) to January 2023, there was a 135% increase in calls.
To address gambling addiction, states with legal online gambling require operators to provide responsible gaming language and tools on their websites and apps.
However, more states will likely follow New Jersey’s lead in implementing tracking to protect players. That also goes for states like Minnesota, which is considering legalizing online gambling.