Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) today announced a new, groundbreaking Responsible Gaming Initiative to identify and help problem gamblers by utilizing information already collected by online gaming operators about their patrons’ playing habits.
As part of the Initiative, the DGE will work with online wagering companies to use technology to identify and work to address at-risk patrons. Operators of gambling platforms will now be required to analyze electronically maintained player data to determine whether a patron is showing signs of problem gambling behavior.
In planning since March 2022, this cutting-edge initiative launched on 1 January 2023 and is the first program of its kind in the country to be implemented. The new requirements introduced this year apply to online wagering, and will supplement the state’s existing responsible gaming safeguards.
“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 Platkin. “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.”
Player data is already captured by operators, but now that data will be used in a new way, to uncover potential problem gambling patterns. As part of the terms and conditions in user agreements that must be signed before access is granted to online gambling platforms, players consent to have their play monitored and recorded in order to, among other things, prevent fraud, identity theft, theft, and cheating.
Operators of online wagering platforms also currently train their staff members who interact with players to identify red flags indicative of a gambling disorder — but this new effort ensures that data, not just observation by platform personnel, will be used to pinpoint players who might need help, and dedicated responsible gaming personnel will reach out to them.
The DGE has set specific parameters on what patron activities operators should be looking for, including the following warning signs:
- 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
- players who regularly access the self-exclusion page on the operator’s website without ultimately executing an exclusion
In addition to problematic play, platforms will also be monitoring for account activity that could be indicative of problem gambling, including deposits for thousands of dollars being made in a short span of time, or a player making multiple requests in a 24-hour span to increase the limits on deposits or losses.
New Jersey’s current framework for addressing gambling addiction consists of the self-exclusion system, a requirement that all gambling advertisements include certain responsible gaming language, and wagering options for patrons to select in order to monitor and control the amount of time and funds they spend on gambling, including time and deposit limits.
But instead of requiring players to recognize when they have a problem and might need to seek help, this initiative will provide proactive, targeted outreach to make patrons aware of what habits they are exhibiting and thereafter, assists the patron with guidance, information, and options to consider for their use in the future.
“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,” said DGE Director David Rebuck. “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.”
“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 CCGNJ Executive Director Felicia Grondin. “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.”
Under the new initiative, a gambler exhibiting warning signs will be approached using various circumstance-dependent interventions, including progressive responses if the indications of a potential gambling disorder keep recurring after attempts are made to assist and address the problem. At level one, the patron will receive automated outreach regarding responsible gaming and associated resources. If the warning signals continue, the patron would be required to view a video tutorial explaining responsible gaming and available resources before being allowed to continue gambling. At the third level, the operator’s responsible gaming lead or team will directly contact and address the issue with the patron.
Previous steps to bolster responsible gaming have included ensuring that patrons who self-exclude for one or five years do not automatically come off the list at the conclusion of the term, but must go online or come in person and proactively seek to have their wagering ability reinstated, if they want to resume playing. In addition, operators are required to block self-excluded persons from their platforms and must demonstrate prior to launching their websites that they have implemented safeguards to prevent self-excluded persons from gambling.
Anyone who is struggling with a gambling problem is encouraged to call or text New Jersey’s free helpline – 800-GAMBLER – for confidential support. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) has helped countless individuals recover from disordered gambling since its inception by facilitating access to various programs, services and other resources.