New Jersey may soon have a problem gambling conductor of sorts. The state official will hold the title of “Responsible Gaming Coordinator” and will be tasked with orchestrating cooperation and organization of many moving parts. However, as of May 1, the job ad hasn’t been posted for the newly created position.
New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said the coordinator will evaluate the state’s responsible gambling efforts to determine whether it’s doing what needs to be done.
Then that coordinator, who will be working in the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), will “ultimately” report to him, Platkin said on April 20 at the East Coast Gaming Congress (ECGC) in Atlantic City.
That same day, Platkin’s office published a press release about the role created for an “experienced attorney.”
The announcement outlined the duties of the yet-to-be-named coordinator:
- dedicated to responsible gaming
- setting new advertising standards for operators
- simplifying access to self-exclusion for players struggling with a gambling disorder
As Platkin explained the role during his luncheon keynote speech at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, regulators and gaming industry representatives attending ECGC remained silent.
Later, Platkin’s office didn’t respond to questions from Bonus about the new coordinator role, as well as other inquiries about New Jersey’s responsible gambling efforts. For instance, it’s unclear if the new coordinator will be appointed, rather than chosen from job ad respondents.
Atmosphere Greeting the Responsible Gaming Coordinator
This Responsible Gaming Coordinator role emerges in New Jersey as the mainstream media, lawmakers, and the American public increasingly scrutinize the US gaming industry.
Pinpointed attention settled on US online gambling operators after November 2022, when the New York Times published several articles critical of iGaming.
Lawmakers then proposed bills to police online gambling ads, which some officials claimed caused gambling addiction. Few of the bills progressed past their introductions.
Perhaps the most notable among the state and federal bills was HR967, in which US Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-New York, suggests there be a federal ban on all broadcast advertising of sportsbooks. That bill – introduced on Feb. 9 – hasn’t progressed past the US House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, where it came to a rest on Feb. 17.
This increased awareness about the industry may have stifled its growth during 2023.
For instance, no bills legalizing US online casino gambling have passed yet during 2023. A Rhode Island bill introduced on April 27 has an outside chance of passing during 2023, with a launch date slated for Jan. 1, 2024.
So the legal online casino states remain:
- Nevada (online poker only)
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Meanwhile, online sportsbooks are a different story.
Since May 2018, most states legalized sports betting – mobile, retail, or both.
So far in 2023, Massachusetts and Ohio launched online sports betting marketplaces. Sportsbooks are also legal in Kentucky, Maine, and Nebraska – but have not yet launched.
New Jersey’s Gambling Industry Situation
Platkin made it clear to regulators and gaming leaders at ECGC that he values the gambling industry.
He said at the beginning of his April 20n keynote address:
Gaming has been the lifeblood of this city and, in many ways, this region for over 40 years.
In 2022, Atlantic City’s nine retail casinos generated $5.21 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR), according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).
Bonus notes that in March 2023, New Jersey online casinos and poker rooms brought in $165.7 million in GGR.
Therefore, he believes New Jersey can represent “the gold standard” in responsible gambling.
Platkin said on April 20 that he wants to see cooperation between the DGE, gambling operators, and organizations like the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
We take responsible gaming very seriously.
In a subsequent panel discussion on April 20 at ECGC, DGE Director David L. Rebuck said of problem gambling:
This issue is never going to go away.
However, with effort, New Jersey’s problem gambling issues can be “reduced,” Rebuck said.
What the Responsible Gaming Coordinator May Oversee
The April 20 announcement of the Responsible Gaming Coordinator role said the new official will help set “new advertising standards” for the gambling industry. Most likely, they will resemble the best practices outlined in the press release.
In the most prominent display of responsible gaming efforts, gambling ads must include New Jersey’s 1-800-GAMBLER hotline.
Coincidentally, the operator of that helpline – NCPG – released a free 1-800-GAMBLER toolkit on April 27 that “gambling operators, media, state agencies, healthcare providers, and other organizations” can use in their messaging.
Speaking of providing resources to gamblers, the DGE will “create a video-conference option” in addition to the current in-person and online voluntary self-exclusion programs.
Another New Jersey responsible gambling effort that’s relatively new is DGE’s Responsible Gaming Initiative, introduced to the public on Feb. 7.
Reminiscent of Kindred Group’s Journey Towards Zero program, the DGE is working with online gambling operator data on Jan. 1 to find potential problem gamblers.
The April 20 announcement from Platkin’s office said:
Gamblers exhibiting warning signs are now approached using various circumstance-dependent interventions, including progressive responses if the indications of a potential disorder keep recurring after attempts are made to assist.
Responsible Gaming Coordinator Entering Golden Era?
On April 20, Rebuck said New Jersey’s responsible gambling situation “is the best it’s ever been,” and he’s been in the role for a decade. That’s also the age of New Jersey’s legal online casino marketplace.
Still, he said:
My perspective is we’ve got a long way to go.
However, those comments are much more optimistic than those he made during a September 2021 webinar.
As I reported for Online Poker Report, a retired Catena Media website, Rebuck told online gambling operators then that they’d need to take action on problem gambling and rein in marketing claims while they still had the luxury of self-regulation. (Catena retired OPR last year and moved the staff to this site – Bonus.)
In 2021, Rebuck said:
You shouldn’t be waiting on the regulators to drive the bus on this one.
Back then, Rebuck said operators wouldn’t be happy if they waited and ended up with more state oversight.
On April 20, Platkin provided a similar warning. He said operators can either deal with today’s problem gambling issues through the DGE, organization, and operator partnership announced that day – “or it can be forced on you.”
888 US President Howard Mittman spoke during the panel discussion with Rebuck:
I think we’re all on the same team, right?