Gambling is legal under federal law in the U.S., but each state has control over its own regulations, including whether or not to allow the industry within its borders at all. Different territories also have their own programs to combat gambling addiction, including helplines, pamphlets, and online resources. But this stops at the casino floor, as you won’t find any such assets at the tables or machines. Unless you find yourself in Massachusetts, that is.
According to a report from the Associated Press, gaming regulators from the state of Massachusetts are planning to implement a new system to assist slot jockeys in moderating how much they spend on their bets over time. Upon inserting their casino reward card in a slot machine, players will use an onscreen display to set a budget that limits how much money they can play with per day, week, or month.
The feature is called “Play My Way” and was developed with nearly $200,000 in funding from the state. Plainridge Park, Massachusetts’ first casino, will begin testing the new program starting at the end of May. The new gambling limit program has been on the table since the casino first opened its doors last summer. Depending on its success, it will also be implemented in future casinos coming to the state, including installments from Wynn and MGM.
“This has never been done in the United States before and it’s never been done in any jurisdiction of the world where it’s been successful,” Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby said. “So we’ve had to do this from top to bottom. That means everything from software design to marketing materials.”
The American Gaming Association worries that the new tech can hurt the industry, citing its ineffectiveness at casinos in countries where it has been implemented, which include Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden. The program ran for nine years in Nova Scotia before being cancelled due to low usage and a drop in revenue.
This point is countered by Mark Vander Linden, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s director of research and responsible gaming, who says that the problem was that Novia Scotia made the program mandatory and did not allow players to adjust the limits. “Play My Way,” meanwhile, will be voluntary and customizable.
Players who choose to enroll in the program will receive notifications when they are close to half their limit, and again when they are three quarters of the way through. When the limit is reached, they will be asked through a prompt whether or not they want to stop or keep playing. The limit can be changed at any time and players can also un-enroll when they wish.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will be measuring the program’s effectiveness at Plainridge Park and will also evaluate a similar setup at OLG Slots at Georgian Downs, a casino in Ontario.