Regulated online gambling in the U.S. has brought many changes to the gaming industry.
From strict consumer protections to player and location verification, it’s a brave new world in the legal U.S. online gaming industry.
Another area regulation is going to bolster is research. Governor Christie and New Jersey lawmakers insisted on funding responsible gambling initiatives through the tax revenue generated by online gaming operators. One of those initiatives saw New Jersey commission Rutgers University to survey Garden State residents in 2014 and again in 2018, as well as create a yearly report on the effects the state’s online gambling industry is having on problem gambling.
The first report was released last week.
What the NJ online gambling report contained
The report begins by citing previous research in the field or responsible gaming efforts, mostly from Australia and Europe. From there it moves on to an overview of the New Jersey online casino industry, including how the industry came into being and the current landscape of the market such as operators and types of gaming offered.
With the typical preamble out of the way the Rutgers research team then dives into their own findings.
Since this was the first report, and Rutgers had limited data to research (New Jersey’s iGaming industry launched in November of 2013), the findings are somewhat preliminary, but they do offer some insight into how the responsible gaming initiatives in place in New jersey are performing.
Here is what they found:
By the end of December 2014, a total of 531,626 online gaming accounts had been created. As Rutgers notes, this doesn’t account for people with accounts with more than one operator. Therefore, the number of people with accounts in New Jersey would be significantly smaller.
Following an early surge that saw several months in which over 70,000 accounts were created, the number of new accounts created each month has held steady between 22,571 and 28,713 since May of 2014.
The most-used responsible gaming initiative was “set deposit limit” – an option 1.3% of registrants (6,851 total accounts) selected.
Just over 1% of registrants also used the “set cooling off period” option, which requires players to abstain from playing for a minimum of three days.
Only .14% of registrants self-excluded (.08% for 1 year and .06% for 5 years).
Of three sites examined, sites with poker have a higher percentage of male players using Responsible Gaming features, 79.5% and a whopping 91%, compared to a casino-only site where the male to female ratio accessing RG features was 62.2% to 37.8%.
Men aged 21-54 were most likely to use the cooling off period, while women in the same age group were most likely to set deposit limits. Interestingly, this flip-flops for players aged 55+, with females more likely to select a cooling off period and males setting deposit limits.
What effect will the Rutgers’ reports have on NJ online casinos?
The first report has already seen Rutgers’ researchers create a list of six recommendations online gaming sites/Division of Gaming Enforcement could implement to bolster responsible gambling initiatives.
Incorporate RG [Responsible Gambling] sign-up and education into account sign-up.
Increase branding for RG features.
Require players who increase a limit or discontinue a feature and those who exceed their $2,500 lifetime deposit limit to be redirected to the RG education link.
Provide a standardized format for accessing player protection features.
Label all the required features the same.
Create a standardized clock that is clearly visible and place it in a standardized location on each page.
As the reports become more detailed, and when the Rutgers’ research team can compare their 2018 survey with the results from their 2014 survey, we’ll have our first in-depth look at the impact of online gambling in the U.S. using data provided by both online operators and the regulators, along with their own research and polling.
This research will be unveiled at a critical time, as 2018-2020 is the target date many analysts have set for more states to start expanding into online gaming. Rutgers research should provide a very nice backdrop when this expansion is debated in state legislatures.