New year, new industry? Eight new year’s resolutions for the gambling industry

January 23, 2023 8:27 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Caroline Ponseti — Communications Strategist , Invariant
January 23, 2023 8:27 PM
  • Caroline Ponseti — Communications Strategist , Invariant

It’s that time in January when everyone starts to wonder, “What were my New Year’s resolutions again?” The overly ambitious list of self-improvements we devised just before the ball dropped already feels like a distant memory after two weeks of catching up on everything punted to the new year. 

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Now that we’re past January’s mid-point, it’s time to dust off those resolutions supposed to set us on the right track for the rest of the year. The same can be said for the gambling industry.  

The industry left 2022 on an off note following an incredible year: a wave of negative publicity, fines for sports-betting advertising violations, and increased regulatory scrutiny. Can the industry keep up the momentum following 2022’s record-breaking year for revenue? Or will these headwinds have an impact on growth?

As every clichéd New Year’s column will tell you, a new year is an opportunity for a fresh start. Here are a few New Year’s Resolutions the gambling industry should consider for the year ahead.

  1. Spend Less Money … on sports-betting ads. We’ve been whispering about potential backlash from excessive sports-betting ads for years and it’s finally here. Sports-betting operators must scale back their advertising or risk further regulation. The U.S. could look to the Ontario market, which required online-gambling operators to spend a percentage of their revenue on ads encouraging responsible gambling.
  2. Start a New Routine. Using plain language when communicating with mainstream audiences is more effective at getting a message across than gambling jargon. Nowhere is this more important than communicating how seriously the industry takes problem gambling.
  3. Prioritize Old Friendships. The recent barrage of national stories criticizing the gambling industry has impacted the positive reputation the industry spent decades building. It’s essential to rebuild trust with policymakers and regulators dismayed by November’s negative press blitz. The industry did a great job building relationships with allies like law enforcement ahead of efforts to legalize sports betting and must reinforce those key relationships.
  4. Mend Broken Relationships. Healthy relationships with mainstream media are vital for highly regulated industries like gambling. Being an accessible resource to the press plays a role in helping improve the industry’s image. 
  5. Break Bad Habits. The industry continues to push back on external criticism by touting its commitment to the blanket term “responsible gaming,” but does this term effectively resonate with stakeholders concerned about gambling harm? Discussions about responsible gaming have their place, but it often feels like the industry talks only about responsible gaming, not what happens when the measures are insufficient. Consider expanding the dialogue to include “taboo” issues, such as underage gambling and gambling addiction, in the regular industry-led discourse. The industry’s commitment to preventing problem gambling is real, but it must also be 100% clear. 
  6. Try Something New. More casinos should adopt cashless payment options. Using an app to pay for slots or table games makes budgeting easier and allows guests to cross “cash” off their packing lists. Letting consumers pay for gambling the same way they pay for everything else is necessary to continue attracting modern customers.
  7. Rethink That Smoking Habit. The movement to ban smoking in casinos is picking up steam. Is 2023 the year that casinos bring the smoke-free movement to the table?
  8. Get Organized. The prospects for igaming legalization are rapidly changing and a continued piecemeal advocacy approach won’t result in the widespread legalization companies have been fighting for. Industry alignment and a collaborative approach are necessary for a successful igaming legalization strategy.