During Tuesday’s SBC Summit North America’s Player Protection Symposium in Manhattan, Bill Pascrell III told a personal story about his son putting himself on a self-exclusion gambling list. Pascrell, a partner with the Princeton Public Affairs Group, told his son he was proud and would help him.
But then Pascrell’s son said he could drive to another state to gamble.
“Something’s wrong with that,” Pascrell said during the session “Managing Player Risk Through Technology” at the Altman Building in Chelsea. “Thank God he was self-aware and prevented himself from going down that rabbit hole. We need a national self-exclusion list.”
Self-exclusion was one of the topics related to technology covered by the panel, moderated by University of Nevada, Las Vegas Distinguished Fellow, Responsible Gaming Alan Feldman.
Pascrell noted that discussions like the one that took place Tuesday were rare a few years ago. But because operators are increasingly promoting responsible-gaming issues and with advances in technology, there’s a new focus on the tools, such as artificial intelligence, that can be used to help problem gamblers.
“I love the thought of being able to look at what a player has been doing over a certain amount of time, then using predictive models to say, OK, maybe there was an earlier intervention that could have been made,” said Rush Street Interactive Director of Corporate Responsibility Tammi Barlow. “What could that intervention have been and what do those things look like? We’re still very new with the implementation of the actual tool and it has many many benefits, but from what we’ve gleaned so far, it’s amazing what you’re able to see with A.I. and different markers.”
Feldman pointed out that certain markers have long been considered signs of problem gambling. But recent research indicates that one marker, frequency of gambling, isn’t as predictive as previously thought. Feldman said that by using artificial intelligence and machine learning to examine markers, it’s now possible to create a “three-dimensional view of what’s happening” when players are having gambling issues.
Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, noted that it’s nearly impossible to isolate a single factor as the sole contributor to a gambling problem.
“It’s multiple factors across different people at different times,” Whyte said. “That’s what makes it so hard to fix, and interesting, but it also makes it really hard.”
“That’s a critical point that Keith just made,” Feldman said. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think there’s going to be a silver bullet out there. Maybe there will be in 20 years when everyone has that information on the next generation of people, but that’s going to be awhile.”
One of the ways the ICRG is addressing problem gambling is through smaller grants to community organizations. In the past, the ICRG doled out money for larger projects, Whyte admitted. But now the organization is focused on smaller grants, with help from a multimillion-dollar multi-year grant from the NFL Foundation.
“If you’re a community-service provider in Maryland or Oklahoma or Washington State and you have $35,000 to add into an existing mental-health, substance-abuse, behavioral-risk curriculum, that can be the world,” Whyte said. “And as we start to prove out over the next three years, we’ll fund about 40 to 45 projects. We’ll figure out which populations benefit and then hopefully, if the NFL Foundation is still willing, we’ll try to help in more states.”