Alan Feldman, future of responsible gaming

More needs to be done to promote responsible gaming as a concept separate from gambling addiction, or harm, to make significant progress in the field, experts said.

Speaking remotely at Regulating The Game 2022, Alan Feldman, a Distinguished Fellow in Responsible Gaming for UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, and Dr. Anatasia Hronis, a Clinical Psychologist and founder of Australian Institute for Human Wellness argue that whilst the industry has been improving, it is still too reactive when it comes to player health and gambling-related harm – intervening only when signs of harm have surfaced. 

“To date, we’ve had quite a reactive approach and honestly, it still is quite reactive. But if we stick with that we’ll forever be playing catch up,” said Hronis. 

Hronis explains that gambling addiction is particularly hard to get ahead of as it is “silent” when compared to other forms of addiction.

“When we compare it to some other forms of addiction, like alcohol or drug use, it’s often the case that when the problem starts to become quite severe, someone’s usually around to notice. For example, your family, friends, colleagues are going to notice you’re slurring your words, that you’ve [shown] up to work smelling like alcohol, but with gambling, and the advancements in gambling technology, the addiction can potentially get much worse before anyone even realizes.”

“A person can quite literally be betting around the clock with no one knowing,” she said.

Feldman and Hronis believe that more needs to be done to separate responsible play from gambling addiction – the latter of which comes with a significant negative stigma. 

“You can experience gambling-related harm without having a gambling problem, just as you can experience alcohol-related harm without being an alcoholic.”

“I think that’s potentially one of the reasons why some of the messaging around Responsible Gambling isn’t hitting the target. It’s too closely entangled with problem gambling or having some sort of addiction.”

“We have not eliminated alcoholism, we have not eliminated harm that is related to alcohol abuse. Those things haven’t happened. But with a majority of people, we have at least broadly defined the outlines of responsible play. And I don’t think that in the industry, that’s quite happened yet, and I think we’ve got some work to do.”