Massachusetts Gaming Commission to Host Responsible Gambling Conference on May 14th

Written By TJ McBride on May 2, 2024 - Last Updated on May 3, 2024
May 14 Responsible Gambling Conference

With three Massachusetts casinos now in operation, combined with the speedy rise of Massachusetts sports betting, issues of responsible gambling have become a point of focus for those in the Bay State and beyond.

As such, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will host its inaugural responsible gambling conference on Tuesday, May 14. This public meeting welcomes industry professionals and all interested individuals to discuss the impact of sports betting and the evolving gambling landscape.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission to host May 14 responsible gambling conference

During Tuesday’s MGC meeting, Mark Vander Linden, director of research and responsible gambling at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, explained the intent of this first annual event:

“Two weeks from today we are hosting our inaugural conference. The title of the conference is ‘Using Research to Rewrite the Playbook: Examining the Social Impact of Sports Betting and the Changing Gambling Landscape.'”

The goal, said Vander Linden, is to bring together various interested parties to create a more cohesive, unified gambling industry. He hopes it will extend beyond the Massachusetts border to involve other New England states, as well as industry professionals throughout the US.

He explained:

“This really originates from the idea that we can do a better job of pulling together a diverse range of stakeholders not just in Massachusetts but throughout New England in order to talk about gambling issues and also to mobilize our research, the immense amount of research we have done over the years.”

MGC conference to discuss problem gambling, recovery, social impact, etc.

This MGC conference will be held at the AC Marriott Hotel in Worcester. The public meeting will have space for 200 people, although more than 170 of those spaces are already filled.

Speakers from New England and beyond will be in attendance, with session topics including:

  • Problem gambling resources
  • Impacts on youth and families
  • The sports betting landscape
  • Responsible gaming tools
  • Treatment & intervention

Space is running out quickly, but information on attending can be found on the MGC website.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission also used some time during its meeting on Tuesday to urge Vander Linden to discuss another topic at the public meeting: his idea for a national voluntary self-exclusion program.

Vander Linden’s national voluntary self-exclusion list could be revolutionary for US gambling

There is no official word on whether the topic of national voluntary exclusion will be among the themes discussed at the May 14 conference. Because of that, Massachusetts interim chair Jordan Maynard encouraged Vander Linden to breach the subject.

According to Vander Linden, there is no example in the country of a self-exclusion list that extends beyond a state border. In an area like the East Coast, that can be problematic with so many states in such close proximity. He said:

“There really is not an example in Massachusetts or New England or within the country that allows VSE reciprocity between states. So, an individual that enrolls in the voluntary self-exclusion program in Massachusetts is not extended to a statewide voluntary self-exclusion in Rhode Island or Connecticut or New York. That just is not possible as it is governed by our regulation as well as the regulations in the states I just mentioned.”

After requesting the thoughts of all commissioners, each one gave their support one after another. That being said, their support came with the expectation of more information regarding such an undertaking’s exact requirements.

National VEP list could be years down the line

Even with unanimous support from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, there are still years of work to do before the idea even gets off the ground. Currently, Vander Linden has not accounted for such a project in his FY2025 budget. He explained:

“My current FY2025 budget does not have this built into it. I think this is something that, if we get the answers we are looking for and there is an intention to move forward, we would need to look at how to build this int my FY2025 budget. It may be more realistic that there would be a discovery period and that we build it into future budgets if this makes sense for the gaming commission.”

The first step toward a regional – and eventually national – voluntary self-exclusion list came via the committee’s approval of the subject. The next big step forward will be discussing it at the public conference on May 14.

Photo by Dreamstime / PlayMA
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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride lives in Denver, Colorado and is best known for his work covering the Denver Nuggets for outlets such as FiveThirtyEight, ESPN, Bleacher Report, and other major outlets. After a decade covering the NBA, T.J. has now stepped into the gaming space and now reports and writes on gambling news across the nation.

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