Massachusetts Gaming Commission to Consider Possible Updates to Gambling and Betting Advertising Regulations

Before the first resort casino started operation in the state of Massachusetts, a significant increase in the number of local people whose problem gambling deteriorated was registered. As a result, at the beginning of the week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) started considering the implementation of some updates to its rules regarding gambling and sports betting advertising.

Until MGM Springfield started operation a few years ago, the only legal betting option for local people was the slots parlor of Plainville-based Plainridge Park Casino. However, the opening of MGM Springfield on August 24th, 2018 was much advertised back then, and researchers from the local gambling regulator said that so much publicity was dangerous to gambling addicts, who are more likely to be affected by gambling adverts and promotions than non-gamblers.

Referencing a finding of a 6-year study of problem gambling in the state, Research Manager Marie-Claire Flores Pajot noted that increased media attention and publicity combined with the aforementioned increase in problem gambling rates in Massachusetts, only to indicate that the deterioration happened because of the increased advertising in advance of the casino’s opening.

The Commissioners of the state’s gambling regulatory body have signaled a significant interest in understanding the advertising practices of the local gambling sector that have faced criticism as irresponsible. The members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission also noted they are interested in exploring regulations, many of which could overlap with the ones that already apply to casino gaming advertising so that the most vulnerable demographic groups and individuals are well protected against possible gambling-related harm.

White Paper Contains Suggestions for New Restrictive Measures on Gambling Advertising in the State

Cathy Judd-Stein, the Chair of the gambling regulator, shared that the move towards stricter regulation of gambling advertising was somewhat overdue in the state, especially at a time when advertising has been proliferating.

The research team of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission rolled out a white paper covering the current regulations for gambling advertising in the state. The white paper also offers an overview of a survey associated with gambling advertising and gambling addiction, as well as a number of a few more measures and strategies that could be considered by the regulator’s members.

The director of research and responsible gaming at the gambling watchdog, Mark Vander Linden, noted that in recent years, advertising practices of the gambling industry have spread across all verticals and utilize user-specific data gathered through various means, including social media. The problem is that gambling is not a risk-free activity and therefore additional measures may be considered by Commissioners to put some limits on these practices in order to minimize gambling-related harm.

The holders of the three gaming licenses in Massachusetts are currently banned from targeting individuals under 21 years of age with their ads. They are also not allowed to approach anyone, who has included themselves in the voluntary self-exclusion list of the Gaming Commission, with marketing materials. Furthermore, marketing or promotional materials are required to inform customers about where to seek help if they suffer from compulsive gambling behavior.

A number of additional measures to limit gambling advertising in the state are included in the white paper that was officially presented at the MGC meeting that took place at the beginning of the week – conducting further research on the impact of gambling advertising on the residents of the state; banning too frequent and intense advertising; requiring obligatory training for casino officials who are engaged in marketing and advertising; requiring a portion of the marketing and advertising budget of each gambling licensee to be spent on responsible gambling messaging.