igamingnext photo
New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced yesterday (20 April) a series of measures aimed at improving responsible gambling practices in the state.

Speaking at the East Coast Gaming Congress, Platkin unveiled the measures alongside David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).

The latest efforts build on the NJDGE’s previously announced Responsible Gaming Initiative, which requires operators to use player data to identify and engage with customers who may be experiencing gambling-related harm.

Changes to advertising rules

Among the announced changes were several new guidelines aimed at ensuring operators market their products responsibly to consumers.

A total of 15 new advertising guidelines were introduced, and included that all advertisements must by law contain responsible gambling messaging.

In addition, the guidelines recommend that operators integrate ads dedicated entirely to responsible gambling messaging into their marketing, the frequency of which should be determined in collaboration with advertising partners and responsible gambling professionals.

Further, a new guideline prohibits operators from using “microscopic” fonts to display responsible gambling messages or hotlines, while ads presented on radio, broadcast media or digitally should include clear and concise responsible gambling disclaimers.

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin: “As New Jersey’s gaming and sports wagering industries continue to grow and mature, so do our obligations to assist patrons who are at risk for problem gambling.”

New Jersey’s 1-800-GAMBLER problem gambling hotline should be prominently displayed in all ads, while the new guidelines also prohibit the use of “misleading” terms such as “guaranteed wins” or “risk free” bets, where customers are required to deposit funds into an account and cannot be fully compensated for any losses incurred.

Terms and conditions for all promotions, particularly with regard to wagering requirements, should be clearly set out, while “unrealistic promotional wagering requirements” – such as those set at 150x the bonus funds – should not be offered.

Operators must also make it easy for customers to unsubscribe from direct marketing materials, and ads may not be presented in any mediums where the primary demographic is underage, or include images or themes that target the underage demographic.

Finally, all advertisements and promotions – including those published by affiliates – must be filed with the NJDGE prior to their use. The regulator does not need to pre-approve all materials before they are published, but will use the submitted information to perform audits of operators’ ads and promotions.

Self-exclusion made easier

At present, customers who wish to self-exclude from New Jersey’s land-based casino sector must do so through an in-person meeting with NJDGE staff.

Those wishing to self-exclude from iGaming may do so through an online application on the regulator’s website.

Through changes announced yesterday, however, the NJDGE will create a video conference option allowing players to exclude themselves fully from gambling operators without leaving their homes.

NJDGE director David Rebuck: “For those in the grip of gambling addiction, we need to offer as many exit ramps from their condition as possible.”

In addition, the regulator will establish a 24/7 hotline dedicated to assisting people with questions about the self-exclusion programme and the process for signing up.

As well as the changes listed above, the NJDGE will appoint a Responsible Gaming Coordinator, an experienced attorney who “will handle all issues impacting responsible gambling and ensure progress on existing initiatives.”

The coordinator will report directly to the regulator’s director and identify gaps and problems in the state’s responsible gambling framework.

Industry commentary

“As New Jersey’s gaming and sports wagering industries continue to grow and mature, so do our obligations to assist patrons who are at risk for problem gambling,” commented Attorney General Platkin on the new measures.

“By establishing a dedicated, senior level position within the Division of Gaming Enforcement to focus on responsible gaming, we are sending a clear message that we take this work seriously – and so should the industry. Our other initiatives announced today will help protect consumers and make it easier for individuals to access the help they need when their gaming behaviour becomes problematic.”

National Council on Problem Gambling executive director Keith Whyte: “We hope regulators across the country will emulate New Jersey.”

NJDGE director Rebuck added that in the face of a growing gambling sector in the state, “for those in the grip of gambling addiction, we need to offer as many exit ramps from their condition as possible.”

Others suggested that the framework should offer helpful guidance to other regulators across the US.

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling said: “We hope regulators across the country will emulate New Jersey, including by working with the National Council on Problem Gambling and our state affiliate chapters, such as the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey.”

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey’s executive director, Felicia Grondin, said in turn that responsible gambling rules are needed now more than ever, and that the measures introduced will help to enforce and expand operators’ efforts on the matter.

New Jersey’s online gambling history

New Jersey is by far the most mature online gambling market in the US, after a legislative bill signed into law in 2013 allowed customers to play online casino games with operators in Atlantic City’s long standing land-based casino sector.

Online casinos opened for business in the state in November 2013, with online poker rooms launching shortly afterwards.

The state was also the setting for the overturning of PASPA in 2018, which preceded the following boom in sports betting legislation being passed in dozens of states across the country.

Despite being only the 11th largest US state by population, New Jersey’s mature online gambling market makes it one of the largest in North America by revenue.

In 2022, New Jersey’s iGaming sector generated $1.66bn in revenue, with a further $27.4m coming from online peer-to-peer poker.

Sports betting, meanwhile, generated $763m in revenue, with $10.14bn of the total $10.94bn handle coming from online bets.

State-by-state regulation of gambling in the US has led to some inconsistency regarding responsible gambling laws in the country.

According to the American Gaming Association, 21 US jurisdictions require land-based and online gambling operators to submit wide-ranging plans on responsible gambling.

Self-exclusion programmes are required in 34 jurisdictions, while 31 jurisdictions require operators to provide signage or disclosures relating to responsible gambling.

Specific advertising restrictions have been established in 30 jurisdictions, while 25 jurisdictions require online gambling operators to provide customers the opportunity to limit their deposits, losses, wagering amounts and/or time spent gambling.