Letter to the Gaming Commissioner from Carol O’Hare

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Letter to the Gaming Commissioner from Carol O’Hare

What would you say to the Nevada State Gaming Commission, given the opportunity to share your opinion about Internet gaming?  Here's what our esteemed Advisory Board member and Executive Director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling did say….

December 13, 2011

Mr. Peter Bernhard, Chairman
Nevada Gaming Commission
P.O. Box 8003
Carson City, NV 89706

RE: Proposed Regulation 5A – Operation of Interactive Gaming

 

Dear Chairman Bernhard,

Since 1984 the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling has served as an advocate and provider of programs andservices to reduce the impact of problem gambling in the State of Nevada. Although we don’t take a positionfor or against legalized gambling, we do encourage and support appropriate consideration of problem gamblingissues in the development of public policy in Nevada. For that purpose, we have reviewed the current draft(version 10) of proposed Regulation 5A – Operation of Interactive Gaming, and respectfully submit ourcomments and concerns by way of this letter.

First, we commend the Gaming Control Board for including a requirement that operators provide players withthe ability to set personal responsible gaming limits (5A.120.13); the option to self-exclude from participationin interactive gaming (5A.130); and requirements that certain information be displayed before the beginning ofeach gambling session (5A.150). Likewise, we appreciate the commitment to establish standards for internalcontrols that include provisions for “substantial compliance with Regulation 5.170” (5A.070.8).

Collectively these approaches demonstrate a thoughtful effort to create an interactive gaming environment thatencourages player responsibility, and also provides information to assist those who may not be able to gambleresponsibly. We certainly support this effort but do believe some minor changes to the current draft wouldprovide more clarity to insure consistent and effective interpretation, implementation and enforcement of theserequirements as intended.

 

We respectfully ask the Chairman and members of the Gaming Commission to consider the following observations and proposed remedies to address these concerns:

1)  5A.120.13: Setting personal limits

          “An operator shall ensure that an authorized player has the ability, through their interactive gaming account, to select responsible gambling options that include a wager limit, loss limit, time based loss limits, deposit limit, session time limit, and time-based exclusion from gambling.”

It is stated that the operator must ensure that the player has the “ability” to set limits through their account, butunlike other responsible gaming references in the regulation, there is no mention of a requirement or method bywhich the operator must inform the player of these options. These tools will only be used if players are aware of them and know how they work. This could easily be accomplished as part of the information required insection 5A.150.6 – Information Displayed on Website.

 

Proposed: Revise 5A.150.6 by adding a new section (f) stated as follows:

          (f) “A link to information explaining available responsible gaming options as defined in 5A.120.13”

 

2)  5A.150.6: Information Displayed on Website – Required active links

          Section (b) requires an active link to be provided for:

          “A problem gambling website that is designed to offer information pertaining to responsible gaming.”

 

We believe the intention is to have a link that takes a person from the interactive gaming website to a separate website that provides problem gambling information and directs visitors to appropriate information and resources for help. We certainly agree this is a valuable component of the regulation, but are concerned that the current language in section (b) does not provide clear direction to operators regarding the type of website and content that is appropriate to satisfy this intent. Please note that the terms “problem gambling” and “responsible gaming” as used together in this one statement create a confusing description that is not likely to be interpreted the same way by every operator or even enforcement agent. To some it may mean nothing more than posting a statement of the company’s “responsible gaming policy”, while others will understand the intended purpose is to provide problem gambling information and resources to assist those who cannot gamble ‘responsibly’.

To avoid confusion and inconsistency, we strongly recommend drafting a more clear statement that is substantially consistent with the similar intent of Regulation 5.170 regarding the provision of problem gambling information to gaming patrons. We would also welcome and encourage additional language acknowledging the Nevada Council website as a ‘safe harbor’ option for compliance with this requirement. Many Nevada gaming companies currently provide a link to the Council’s website as part of their responsible gaming efforts, without a regulatory mandate to do so. As a non-profit information and referral agency and the state’s designated affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling, we provide this website as a reliable resource for problem gambling information in support of public awareness and prevention efforts in our state. The site also includes our online “Resource Locator”, a searchable database that provides anyone direct access to current information on treatment and support resources in Nevada. Additional requests for information and assistance can be made via email or phone and all communications with the Council are considered confidential unless otherwise specified by the individual.

To clarify the purpose of section 5A.150.6 (b) and to give direction for achieving that purpose in a manner substantially consistent with Nevada gaming regulation 5.170, we respectfully propose the following change for your consideration:

Proposed: Revise the existing statement in section (b) to read as follows:

(b) “A non-gaming website that provides information on the nature and symptoms of problem gambling and referral to problem gambling treatment and support resources, including the number of the 24 hour Problem Gamblers Help Line for Nevada (1-800-522-4700). For this purpose, the website of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling is presumed to be adequate for compliance.”

On behalf of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, thank you for the opportunity to offer our input and for your thoughtful consideration of the information provided. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (702) 369-9740 if you have any questions about our comments, concerns and recommendations regarding the proposed regulation. I am available to discuss at your request.

 

Sincerely,

Carol O’Hare
Executive Director
Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

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