DraftKings Latest RG Investment The Effort NY’s Online Casino Push Needs

Written By Robyn McNeil on February 23, 2023 - Last Updated on February 24, 2023
responsible gambling critical to legal ny online casinos

Making a wager is entertainment for most people — offering as much risk as concert tickets or a new book.

But, for some, gambling becomes darker, a pleasant pastime turned burden as need overrides want. While help is available, problem gambling support is something the industry can continually improve.

DraftKings’ recent partnership with responsible gambling research and consultancy firm, Gamres could do just that.

With Gamres’ groundbreaking Positive Play Scale, DraftKings aims to use data to target problem gambling and maximize positive play.

And that is precisely the kind of industry-led offensive play legal New York online casinos need.

Measuring play to maximize positives and tackle problem gambling

That’s not to say DraftKing intended to sway favor in The Empire State with its latest RG investment.

Still, some DraftKings New York online sports betting customers may wind up in the Positive Play study. And all the company’s US players should benefit from the research findings.

According to the release, the data uncovered will help DraftKings refine RG practices and encourage positive play among those US players.

“We’re grateful for this opportunity to team up with Gamres, which is renowned for its strategic consulting and research around the world, to bring the Positive Play Scale tool to DraftKings,” said Chrissy Thurmond, DraftKings senior director of responsible gaming.

“We believe that DraftKings’ responsible gaming program, which strives to be the industry gold standard, will be significantly enhanced with the addition of this scientific tool and will yield rich and actionable insights — helping us to us better understand and engage our players.”

Sounds great. But how does the Positive Play Scale work?

“The problem with responsible gambling has been that it’s predicated on problematic play,” Gamres’ Dr. Richard Wood recently told PlayCanada.

“And for a lot of people, they just don’t feel that’s relevant to them because most people don’t have gambling problems. And if you wait to the point where somebody has a gambling problem, it’s kind of too late.”

In 2020, New York’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports released a study on the prevalence of problem gambling in the state. The study found that more than two-thirds of New Yorkers don’t gamble.

Additionally, the data showed that 4.4% of NY adults are at risk of gambling harm, and 0.7% are problem (or pathological) gamblers.

What the PPS does differently is it measures (and benchmarks) healthy gambling attitudes and habits. So, instead of depending on player-identified problem gambling reports, DraftKings will have details of the gambling attitudes and actions of its entire US player pool.

Such rich data should allow DraftKings to focus problem gambling efforts on those already in trouble and the next most at risk.

At the same time, knowing how well customers understand responsible gambling and healthy gambling behaviors lets operators meet players where they’re at. From there, offering the education, tools, and support to maximize individual positive play experiences becomes easier.

“The positive play approach,” Woods said, “was instead of focusing on the people that have gambling problems, why not look at all the players and see how responsible they are?”

“So, instead of looking at what players do wrong, we measure what they do right…And you can reward players for doing the right thing.”

PPS Benchmarks healthy gambling attitudes, habits

“It allows gaming companies to understand their player base a lot better,” Wood said of previous PPS study results. “You’re looking at a big sample.”

From there, researchers can drill down:

“Younger players tend to score a lot lower [on the PPS] than older players,” added Wood.

“Players who play on a range of games tend to score lower than those that just play on one or two… So you can start to target your responsible gambling strategy to those people that need it the most.”

Study data can also help focus responsible gambling messaging to be most beneficial.

For instance, much modern RG messaging urges players to “play responsibly.”

But, according to PPS data, players overwhelmingly feel responsible for their gambling behaviors. They score lower, however, in gambling literacy (understanding the games) and pre-commitment.

According to Wood, pre-commitment can mean limit-setting tools. But, really, it’s just being intentional with the time and money you’re willing to spend.

“We’re able to identify (in player populations) where these sorts of deficits are,” he said.

As a result, Gamres’ clients often change tack, shifting to address gambling literacy and encourage sober first thoughts. Or to better connect with a particular demographic, he added.

“It’s a way to kind of optimize Responsible Gambling strategy…Focus on the things where you need more support.”

What does the PPS have to do with New York Online Casinos?

Glad you asked.

Ever since New York legal online sports betting launched in January 2022, there’s been speculation about whether online casinos would follow.

In February 2022, New York Senator Joe Addabbo proposed a bill to bring legal online casinos to the state.

While that legislation did not pass, Senator Addabbo recently filed a new billS4856 — to do the same. This time out, the legislation features a higher tax rate (30.5%) and built-in responsible gambling measures.

As Sen. Addabbo said last year, gambling addiction is “probably our biggest challenge” in legalizing NY online casino legalization.

“Bigger than the downstate licenses, bigger than mobile sports betting — is the challenge of addiction with iGaming. I think it’s trickier, and therefore we’ll look to do more funds and more in-tune with OASAS (Office of Addiction Services and Support) on how we address addiction.”

He also predicted that New York would fail to avoid gambling harms by keeping NY online casinos illegal. Instead, New Yorkers will continue to trek to neighboring states or play on unregulated black market sites as they had for sports betting before the legal switch.

In either case, that means New Yorkers are losing out on tax dollars. And he estimates it’s as much as $4 billion in losses each year online casino remains unregulated.

For New York to legalize online casinos soon, proponents must re-prioritize responsible gambling. DraftKings’ partnership with Gamres is a good starting place.

“Most players just play for fun and to be entertained,” said Wood.

“We believe that the Positive Play Scale will help to optimize DraftKings’ RG strategy to identify those areas that would benefit from the most support. As such, we expect that the findings from this project will help DraftKings develop a proactive approach to responsible gaming that encourages all players to have healthy, positive playing experiences.”

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Robyn McNeil

Robyn spent the better part of two decades as a writer and editor telling a variety of stories, with experience spanning industries including kitchens, music, film, tech, and journalism⁠ — now with a gambling bend. Robyn holds degrees in sociology and anthropology, gender and journalism. She also studied business and public relations.

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