When the United States Department of Justice reversed their longstanding position that state governments were prohibited from legalizing and regulating online gambling within their borders, a number of agencies rushed to take advantage.
State lotteries in Illinois and Georgia and casinos in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey are all either offering online wagering or will be by the end of the year.
Regulators and operators in these jurisdictions all pledged their internet products would be safe and secure and would have protections in place to guard against underage play and gambling addiction.
Indeed, many go at least a little bit beyond the rudimentary responsible gaming requirements of the existing lottery or terrestrial casino sectors. For example, every one of the online gaming regulations requires age and ID verification for online gambling, yet lottery tickets in those states are sold in unattended vending machines, and no ID is required to access any of the gaming facilities.
However, none of the regulations to date come close to the more stringent European or Canadian standards, or NCPG’s own Internet Responsible Gambling Standards.
It is unfortunate because studies throughout the world find relatively high rates of gambling problems among those who gamble online. Internet gambling may attract those at risk for addiction, and it may also exacerbate existing problems, given the high speed and frequency of play, perceived anonymity, social isolation, use of credit or non-cash payment methods and 24-hour access.
Since online gamblers are known to have problems, it is important to require extensive responsible gaming policies.
These programs provide an opportunity to create informed consumers with access to a variety of information designed to encourage safe choices and discourage unsafe behavior.
We call for legislators, regulators and operators to think “outside the box” and embrace the potential of technology to enhance responsible gaming efforts, to improve customer satisfaction, to reduce risk and minimize harm, and to better balance the costs and benefits of legalized online gambling.
In some ways, gambling has always driven and been driven by technology. From the early use of the printing press to manufacture playing cards to the development of mechanical computers to calculate pari-mutuel odds, designers have harnessed their creativity for gambling-related projects. As the speed of innovation increases and the internet revolutionizes almost every aspect of our lives, we have the opportunity and the obligation to utilize information to design more intelligent responsible gaming programs and more data-driven responsible gaming policies.