Ahead of its sports betting launch, Kentucky may not have the proper responsible gambling measures in place.
That’s what two industry experts told Gaming Today this week.
Last month, Kinectify — one of North America’s leading anti-money laundering risk management technology companies — announced a partnership with Kindbridge Behavioral Health, which is one of the leading organizations when it comes to providing treatment for gambling-related mental health issues.
It’s perfect timing, as Kentucky is just days away from signing off on its sports betting regulations. Soon enough we’ll know which sportsbooks will apply for sports betting licenses from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
It’s an exciting time for the state of Kentucky, but also a great opportunity to remind future customers of the importance of responsible gambling.
Kinectify CEO Joseph Martin and Kindbridge CEO Daniel Umfleet exchanged emails with Gaming Today to share their thoughts on the partnership, as well as Kentucky’s push toward legal sports betting.
How Should Kentucky Lead Its Responsible Gaming Charge?
According to Umfleet, there should be an emphasis on mental health. After all, problem gambling is an addiction and can hurt people on a variety of levels.
We will likely know more about Kentucky’s plans for responsible gaming in the coming months. We do know, however, that Kentucky will use a national hotline for problem gambling, rather than a state-specific line.
But as of now, Umfleet believes that the state is missing some key components.
“From a care perspective, Kentucky lacks mental health resources available in the community already,” he said. “Combine that with the fact that Kentucky has very few trained providers that understand gambling disorder and you’re looking at an obvious problem 15 to 18 months after it goes live. Responsible gaming needs to have a heavy emphasis placed on ensuring the citizens have access to the right resources when problems arise.”
Look For Advertising to Be a Focal Point With Responsible Gaming
Following the approval of regulations in the coming days, we’ll likely see sportsbook operators apply for licenses within Kentucky.
When licenses are secured, the advertisements will roll in. And who can blame the operators? Customers are fairly loyal when it comes to choosing a sportsbook. Operators will spend plenty of promotional dollars and create Kentucky-specific advertisements to find customers for life.
But Umfleet pointed out that oftentimes, advertising is one of the main issues when states first legalize their industry.
Sportsbooks need to have clear language in their promotions and advertisements. That means no “Can’t Lose Parlays” or any sort of verbiage that implies a gray area or any sort of “free bets.”
“Advertisement bombardment that creates a rush into sports betting with a swift increase in individuals reaching out for help with nowhere to go, in a lot of cases,” he said. “Some states are better than others, but the majority of states have launched with no public health model in place, no or little funds available for treatment, and confusion around how to allocate cash parked aside for problem gambling initiatives and treatment programs.”
‘Invest in Systems That Make Sense Early’, Expert Says
Umfleet passed along some advice on how he believes the state of Kentucky should approach its responsible gaming outlook.
“Invest in systems that make sense early,” he said. “Understand the lay of the land, what you have, what you don’t, what makes sense to be there.”
All problem gambling can’t be stopped before a state launches, though. There are plenty of individuals who don’t realize they are suffering from an addiction.
It’s a matter of when, not if, so the state should prepare.
“Get a strategy together and get working on some good infrastructure to support people that will inevitably find themselves in unfortunate situations due to their gambling activity,” he said.
More on Kinectify’s Partnership With Kindbridge Behavioral Health
According to Martin, he and Umfleet met about four months ago. And it was then that they realized they shared a vision to help those suffering from problem gaming. However, there was no existing platform that combined their two fortes.
“As our conversations continued, we quickly saw the benefit of a technology and mental health services partnership and made it happen,” Martin said.
Under this partnership, Kinectify is introducing a responsible gaming platform that will be an all-in-one integration with its existing anti-money laundering platform.
According to a release, the platform will dedicate workspaces for anti-money laundering and responsible gaming teams to “perform monitoring, case management, reporting, and player care tasks.”
This platform will feature faster and more efficient access for those suffering from problem gambling.
“The overall goal is to bring gaming operators and care providers together and help them operationalize collaboration through technology,” Martin said.
Kinectify, Kindbridge Behavioral Health Hope to Create ‘Best Solution’ for Mental Health
The next step in this partnership, according to Martin, is to work closely with academic and clinical communities. By tapping into these groups, he believes they can enhance their data analytics and further foster that intersection between operators and mental health providers.
The partnership is thinking outside of the box when it comes to evolving.
“We have top data scientists and AI experts involved, and combining that with the broad research and mental health services is powerful,” Martin said.
The goal is to keep pushing closer to finding these issues as early in customers as possible.
“My top priority is to enhance player risk scoring for problem gambling and predictive analytics,” Martin said. “In parallel, we want to integrate Kindbridge’s player exclusion technology and integrate our case management systems to allow a seamless experience for gaming operators to refer matters to trained mental services providers as concerning matters arise with players.”