AGA expanding code of conduct for responsible gaming

Updated August 7, 2018 - 8:15 pm

With sports betting spreading to new markets this year, the American Gaming Association is expanding the breadth and reach of its code of conduct for responsible gaming, a representative said Tuesday.

A panel of experts representing casino operators, game manufacturers, testing labs and the association discussed the need for responsibility programs at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute during Tuesday’s kickoff of Responsible Gaming Education Week at UNLV.

Sara Slane, the association’s senior vice president of public affairs, said the AGA already has begun working with sports leagues and broadcast companies about industry responsibilities, particularly as it applies to underage participation and advertising.

Up until June, only Nevada was legally allowed to take wagers on single-game sports events. Since then, the market has opened in Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi, with more states expected to go live in the months ahead.

“We want to work in partnership with the larger stakeholders in the community, including the broadcasters and the leagues to ensure that advertising that is happening around sports betting is being done responsibly,” Slane said after the one-hour panel discussion moderated by Bo Bernhard, executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.

“We’re going to be launching in the next couple of weeks our own task force which is going to be comprised of communications experts in this field as well as getting perspectives from around the world on how they’ve dealt with advertising and the different responsibilities,” Slane said.

During the panel discussion, Slane remarked that daily fantasy sports companies showed how overwhelming levels of advertising can hurt the industry.

“One of the best lessons we learned was from the mistakes that daily fantasy sports made back in 2015, certainly when it came to the issue of advertising responsibly,” Slane said. “They got way out ahead of their skis in 2015 with a barrage on the airwaves with all sorts of advertising that made regulators and legislators scratch their heads and say to themselves, ‘What is this? Is this gambling? Is this regulated? What’s going on here?’ We absolutely do not want to make the mistakes that were made back in 2015.”

The association’s revised code of conduct specifically addresses advertising responsibly.

The code says, “Casino gambling, including sports betting advertising and marketing, will contain responsible gaming message and/or toll-free help line number where practical, reflect generally accepted contemporary standards of good taste and strictly comply with all state and federal standards to make no false or misleading claims or create a suggestion that the probabilities of winning or losing at the various games offered by the casino or by betting on sports contests are different than those actually experienced.”

The code also urges operators not to use symbols or celebrity endorsers appealing to children and minors or contain claims that gambling activity would guarantee an individual’s social, financial or personal success.

Panelist Jennifer Shatley, a responsible gaming policies and compliance specialist with Caesars Entertainment, said the company has developed messaging coming directly from top executives about responsible gaming, starting with former Harrah’s Entertainment CEO Phil Satre, to former CEO Gary Loveman to current CEO Mark Frissora.

Manufacturers also have a role in responsible gaming, and Bernhard suggested that companies conduct research before making adjustments to games to make sure they don’t have a detrimental impact on responsible play.

Panelist Connie Jones, director of responsible gaming for the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, said an Australian manufacturer slowed down the spinning of slot machine reels as a means for problem gamblers to spend less time on the machine and potentially lose less.

Instead, she said, players spent more time playing and increased their losses attempting to make up for what they lost.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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