NCPG Executive Director Talks Efforts in Responsible Gambling

Call it the public image, civic duty, a conscience, or awareness. Call the methods an administrative equivalent of a full-court press.

By any measure, sports betting operators show increased efforts toward responsible gambling to shield their businesses from gambling addiction.

There are three major reasons it matters now:

  • The American Gaming Association expected more than $15 billion in March Madness wagers in 2023, a sharp rise from its $3 billion projections in 2022. Subsequent forecasts should be similar. All that money increases the risk of problem gambling.
  • Another new state joined the legalized gambling fold on March 11. A bevy of brand-new North Carolina bettors accentuates the value of safe gambling methods.
  • This is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), launched by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the nation’s oldest organization studying gambling issues.

PGAM assembles a wide range of stakeholders, including state affiliates, public health organizations, advocacy groups, professional sports leagues, and operators.

Two important factors are becoming clear from these groups: More people than ever are gambling and historic new efforts are being made to keep them safe.

More: North Carolina Gambling Resources | Sports Betting Apps | New Sportsbooks

Responsible Gambling Overview

There’s something different about this help menu than its predecessors. The focus features more balance between dealing with addiction and avoiding it in the first place with a game plan.

FanDuel, for instance, sports a video with an announcer promoting responsible gambling on its website. The piece covers setting budgets and time limits, not borrowing money, not chasing losses, and viewing gambling the right way, as entertainment. Most people don’t get financially rich from gambling, but they do gain emotional riches.

Bragging rights can come from a $5 bet as easily as a $100 wager.

DraftKings offers a set of responsible practices and a video on its site. It also has links to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

According to Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, industry efforts forge a breakthrough in responsible gambling focus. Founded in 1972, it is gambling-neutral.

Whyte has a gaming industry background, serving with the AGA before taking this post 29 years ago. He likes the evolution of operators in this area.

“The responsible gambling pages on company websites have made enormous strides,” Whyte told Gaming Today. “There are wonderful tools on those pages. Personally, I think one of the best ideas is having an effective limit the user sets for himself. The more it is imposed by somebody else, the less of a good fit it is for that particular person.

“Nobody wants arbitrary limits being placed on him or her,” he added. “But if you can set those limits, there is a very good chance you can make that arrangement work for you.”

Many people do.

Books find new ways to export safety. Some strongly suggest customers visit their Responsible Gambling section once their lifetime deposits reach $2,500.

Cooling-off periods are also effective. Back off for a couple of days and try again.

This has become an essential tool in the age of instant access, where patrons can activate a hand-held book in seconds.

What’s different about sites in general is this new level of education. The first was used to guide people about where to get help.

This wave, via these tools, helps gamblers empower themselves.

Think of how most people learned to gamble before social media. They watched others. Somebody brought them into a game. They heard stories from friends.

Much of their baptism came by fire. But that can be different now. Learning responsible techniques may equate with learning baseball skills at a camp.

Eventually, all the messages blend in.

“It’s great for people to be able to start playing and see how there are positive ways they can engage in it,” Whyte indicates. “Your motivation to gamble, for instance, has a lot to do with your risk of developing a gambling problem. If you are a recreational gambler and you keep it on a recreational level, you may never have a bad situation.

“But what happens if a recreational gambler faces some big emotional loss (job, spouse, etc.)? What was recreational has now become problematic.”

What happens at the “problematic” stage also has undergone a change. Perception is significant.

“It’s very important that people feel they can talk openly about it if that problem stage occurs,” Whyte notes. “We want to get rid of shame and stigma about gambling and gambling addiction.

“This open approach allows us to keep this as a positive conversation. Fear-mongering and stigmatizing people only lead to negative outcomes from addiction. That’s when people lie, they hide, and they deny. And that type of behavior can lead to other problems.”

Like the sites, Whyte promotes the value of not chasing. A small loss brings players back for another day.

North Carolina Lottery Commission and Responsible Gambling

The North Carolina Lottery Commission also plays its role in suggesting safe play. Among its posted observations:

Being able to recognize the warning signs of the problem gambler may be able to help you or a friend in the future.

  • Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?
  • Have you ever lied to people important to you about how much you gambled?
  • Have you experienced repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling?
  • Have you ever relied on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling?
  • Do you gamble as a way of escaping emotional or physical pain?
  • Have you ever jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or career opportunity because of gambling?
  • Have you gambled to get money with which to pay debts or to solve other financial problems?
  • Have you borrowed money to finance your gambling?
  • Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  • Do you gamble to try to get your money back?

That said, enjoy all the nationwide gambling opportunities, remembering that more people than ever have your back. Keep it fun, and keep it going.


About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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