RG Collaborative Introduces New Principles

The Responsible Gambling Collaborative (RG Collaborative) has recently announced a new set of principles to better encourage and support responsible gambling. The same announcement also included a study on how each state in the US allocates gambling revenues toward problem gambling prevention initiatives.

Las Vegas Strip lit up in neon lights at night featuring the Golden Nugget casino.

The RG Collaborative has created a new set of guiding principles to encourage responsible gambling and is endorsed by Nevada casino industry insiders, academics and advocacy groups. ©Romanov/Pixabay

he RG Collaborative was established in 2018 with the aim to spearhead a new approach to addressing responsible gambling while using research to identify programs and policies that best address the matter. It also seeks to prevent problem gambling and hold governments accountable for supporting proven effective solutions.

Its Responsible Gambling Effectiveness Principles are regarded as the first attempt in US gambling history to establish a framework for promoting responsible gambling endorsed by advocacy groups, academics and the casino industry. Among other groups, the American Gaming Association, Harvard Medical School and the National Council on Problem Gambling have contributed to its creation.

The Responsible Gambling Effectiveness Principles are:

  • Support funding for research and evaluation.
  • Support funding for problem gambling treatment.
  • Help patrons make informed choices about their gambling.
  • Ensure every company has a responsible gambling plan and industry employees understand their role and responsibility in fostering responsible gambling and preventing problem gambling behavior.
  • Confirm gambling-related business practices encourage responsible gambling.
  • Equip consumers with the tools they need to gamble responsibly and prevent problem gambling behavior.

According to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, the intention of the principles’ creation was to establish a concrete foundation on the issue of problem gambling. “The Responsible Gambling Effectiveness Principles are meant to spark discussion, encourage collaboration, and generate new insights into this critical area,” said Whyte.

“We encourage all stakeholders —policymakers, regulators, advocates, researchers, and industry— to build upon these fundamental principles, inserting evidence-based activities and regulations that support safe, responsible gambling.”

The AGA Comments

In the wake of the effective principles’ announcement, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released a statement praising the work of the RG Collaborative. Having recently released an updated set of compliances itself, the AGA is taking a hands-on approach to improving the safety of gambling across the US.

“I can think of no better way to lead our industry into a new decade than renewing our commitment to effectively promote responsible gaming and tackle problem gambling head-on,” said Bill Miller, president, and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA).

“The Responsible Gambling Collaborative has an important role to play as we chart a new course for responsible gaming, and the AGA is proud to be a part of it. The research released today provides important insight into the allocation of funding for essential programs. As the top benefactor of gaming taxes, it’s troubling to see that state responsible gaming funds are not always used for their intended purpose.”Bill Miller, President and CEO, American Gaming Association.

Allocations of State Funding

The misspending of responsible gaming funds that Miller’s statement refers to was discovered in a state-by-state study published alongside the effectiveness principles. While the study acknowledged that following specified funding plans is often difficult, the handling of tax funding for responsible gambling issues fell into three categories over the most recently examined fiscal year(s).

It was found that of the fourteen states examined, only six states spent the allocated tax money on responsible gambling and problem gambling issues. Four states were likely to not spend the allocated tax money correctly, while another four were hard to determine.

The RG Collaborative found that there was a common arc that determined why states failed to allocate funds correctly, and provided a guideline on how this could be addressed. Firstly, commercial gaming is approved in a state with ambitious revenue projections and a fund to pay for responsible gambling services enacted with large expectations.

As the different gaming sectors may not contribute to the fund uniformly, in time the fund tends to be underutilized in establishing the right infrastructure, and policymakers eye these unspent funds to be spent on other programs. The study finds that less accountability of lawmakers regarding the issue and a lack of media scrutinization has led to a culture where this appropriation of funds is acceptable.

“While much has been achieved in addressing problem gambling, the Responsible Gambling Collaborative aspires to make even greater strides toward smarter policies and better practices,” said Alan Feldman, a distinguished fellow of the University of Nevada’s International Gaming Institute. “As states are one of the main beneficiaries of gaming revenue, it is essential that designated funding for responsible gambling is used for its intended purpose.”

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