Top U.S. sportsbooks create Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA): What it means

Mar 29, 2024

Against a backdrop of ugly sports betting-related stories in the sports world in recent weeks, there was some positive news as well. On Wednesday, seven of the top sports betting companies in the U.S. joined forces to create a coalition that promotes Responsible Gaming. FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, PENN, Fanatics, Hard Rock and bet365 are the founding members of the group, which will share information about problem gamblers for the first time. 

Notably absent is Caesars Sportsbook, which told CNBC that it has learned best practices from 35 years dealing with Responsible Gaming matters. “While we applaud all efforts to ensure online gaming is both operated and marketed in a responsible manner, we are confident in our [own] Responsible Gaming approach,” Caesars said in a statement.

The seven operators who did join have pledged over $20 million combined to fund ROGA. Members have committed to collaborate on issues ranging from education, responsible gaming best practices, conscientious advertising and marketing across the industry.

Jennifer Shatley, an industry veteran and the new executive director of ROGA, said, “I’m incredibly excited to move this forward and to really do some impactful things and to really expand the knowledge through the research and to create these evidence-based best practices and to really empower players with information.” 

ROGA will create a certification program to evaluate members’ Responsible Gaming efforts and provide incentives for other operators to participate. The coalition will also create an independent database that will allow them to share information related to protection of consumers, though the details of how that will work are unclear, which has led to some suspicion.

Questions and concerns from some about ROGA

Unsurprisingly (especially in the world of “Gambling Twitter”), some well-known bettors in the industry have questioned the true intentions of ROGA, in particular the sharing of information between the member operators. The CNBC story that announced the group’s formation included the curious line “share information related to protection of consumers, though the details of how that will work are unclear.” 

It’s around those unknown details and nuances that suspicion has centered. Respected veteran Twitter (now X) betting personality “Captain Jack Andrews” wrote in part, “This is not ideal. Seven sportsbooks are joining forces to exchange information about "problem gamblers." The obvious problem is they will also create the definition of what a "problem" is to them. One of them, Bet365, has a track record of using problem gambling as an excuse to exclude sharp bettors.” He then added, “At best, this is operators flying a false flag of consumer protection - and at worst, is collusion among sportsbooks to eliminate skilled bettors.” 

Another user - @Chap9413 - added, “#ROGA is a smokescreen for Sportsbooks to participate in collusion to completely shutout winning players. Don’t let them fool you to believe that any of their goals is ‘consumer friendly.’”

Despite some concerns around the to-be-determined details of how ROGA will operate and share information about individual bettors, the member sportsbooks should be given the benefit of the doubt until there is reason to question the intent here. At a time when gambling addiction rates are sky-rocketing, and societal impacts down the road are difficult to estimate as a result of minimal focus on and funding of national research, steps being taken to counter that should be applauded. Sportsbooks limiting and/or banning players unfairly is an issue worthy of criticism, but it is a relatively small one compared to the rise in problem gambling across the country. 

Avoiding Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction warning signs

Before betting, all bettors should familiarize themselves with the warning signs of gambling addiction, so they can notice if someone may be traveling down a dangerous road. Some warning signs to be aware of include:

  • Asking others for money to bet with

  • Skipping social engagements with friends or family to gamble instead

  • Spending significant time in a casino or on a mobile sportsbook

  • Lying about sports betting losses 

  • Keeping gambling debts hidden 

  • Issues at work as a result of betting

  • Borrowing or stealing money to gamble

  • Inability to pay bills as a result of betting losses

Although each individual is different and may show varying signs, familiarizing yourself with all of the potential warning signs is incredibly useful and could be critical in helping yourself or others. 

Helpful resources for Problem Gambling 

Unfortunately, gambling disorder rates across the United States have been on the rise as now 38 states have legalized some form of sports betting. Gambling addiction has ruined lives, families and friendships, so awareness of resources in case issues arise is incredibly important. 

The good news is that those resources are readily available. Birches Health is a modern digital healthcare company that provides confidential treatment options from the comfort of home. The intake process is easy, with most individuals getting treatment within 72 hours (significantly faster than national average). Birches boasts a team of experienced clinicians specially trained to treat gambling addiction. 

If you or someone you know could benefit from speaking to someone or learning more about the Birches Health offerings, please call (833) 483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com today. 

Sources:

Largest U.S. sportsbooks join forces to tackle problem gambling 

https://twitter.com/capjack2000/status/1772995105789550992?s=46&t=GwtqaPfzOKPXTJ4NToUTjg

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