National Council on Problem Gambling claims bulk of US iGaming regulations fall drastically short of minimum standards

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The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has released its 2022 report assessing the responsible gambling practices of the 7 states in which iGaming is legal in the United States of America. The report found that regulations in four of the seven states fall ‘drastically short’ of NCPG’s minimum responsible gambling standards.

The content of the report assesses the consumer protection regulations from states in which iGaming is legalized versus its Internet Responsible Gambling Standards.

Where is iGaming legal?

The seven states where iGaming is legalized are as follows:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

Of the above, Michigan, Delaware, Nevada and West Virginia are the four states deemed to fall short of offer the responsible gambling protections deemed sufficient by the National Council.

Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania did not report a clean slate, but met a majority of the standards outlined in the IGRS. Under the IGRS, problem gambling is defined as ‘a disorder characterized by preoccupation with wagering, chasing losses and losing control over the amount of time and money spent gambling’.

Responsible gambling has the following definition: ‘policies and programs designed to prevent and reduce potential harms associated with gambling; they often incorporate a diverse range of initiatives designed to promote consumer protection, improve community and consumer awareness and education, and provide referrals to treatment and recovery resources.’

What constitutes responsible gambling?

The broad headings under the IGRS are:

  • Policy
  • Staff Training
  • Supporting Informed Decision Making By Players
  • Assisting Players
  • Self-Exclusion
  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Game and Site Features
  • Research
  • Payments
  • Data

Each state was assessed against the IGRS headings (and relevant subheadings) before the verdict was decided on its overall commitment to responsible gaming. If a state has been deemed to meet minimum standards, consumers ‘whichever operator they choose, they can be confident that the platform has the responsible gambling tools necessary to assist in playing safely’.

Of the states falling short, Delaware noted that of the 59 indicators, Delaware only met 29, with the other three states also falling short. A NCPG spokesperson stated: “Igaming regulations in Delaware, Michigan, Nevada and West Virginia do not mandate operators provide players with sufficient responsible gambling protections. Regulations from Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania met a majority of the standards outlined in the IRGS, but still fall short of meeting the full list.

They continued “IRGS sets the standard for consumers to ensure whichever operator they choose; they can be confident that the platform has the responsible gambling tools necessary to assist in playing safely”.

The IGRS standards, although arguably considered ‘best practice’, have no legal mandate and legislators are under no obligation to adjust or temper laws accordingly. Given the rise of responsible gambling issues globally (see Western Europe), it’s likely as the American market continues to mature that operators and legislators will want to be proactive in being seen to encourage responsible gaming.

Particularly familiar is the call for public health funding to be spent on responsible gambling, with a release outlining: “The most ethical and cost-effective response to gambling addiction issues raised by internet gambling is a comprehensive public health strategy that includes prevention, education, treatment and research services. Responsible gambling standards are an important aspect of this approach.”

Where might we see iGaming in the future?

With iGaming bills being introduced in several states, online gambling may become reality in numerous states in the near future. Online gaming in Georgia is one possibility, whereas it still looks like we’re a distance off any sort of mobile or online sports betting in Texas. Due to the Californian propositions being voted down last year, we’ll unlikely see much activity in the CA online gaming space until 2024 at earliest.