A recent study of the habits of players who participate in Massachusetts’ PlayMyWay self-budgeting program found that users lost less money at casinos after they enrolled in the program.
PlayMyWay players also visit casinos more and report enjoying their experiences more than before entering the program.
Dr. Michael Wohl, a professor of psychology at Canada’s Carleton University, shared the study’s findings on PlayMyWay’s effectiveness at the Feb. 1 Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting. The International Center for Responsible Gaming funded the research.
PlayMyWay helps players monitor casino spending
PlayMyWay aims to encourage responsible gambling practices at the state’s three casinos. It allows players to set daily, weekly or monthly budgets on all slots and electronic gaming machine play.
The program tracks the self-declared budgets through players’ rewards cards. Participants receive automatic smartphone notifications as they approach or exceed their budget limits, which can be adjusted anytime.
The state launched the PlayMyWay self-monitoring program, part of the state’s GameSense responsible gaming initiative, at Plainridge Park Casino in 2016. MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor began participation in the program in 2022.
According to Wohl’s presentation, there were 46,185 active enrollments in the program as of December.
The program isn’t directly comparable to online casino gambling. However, regulators could easily implement a similar program if the legislature passes Massachusetts online casino legislation.
Study finds players in program visit casinos more but spend less
According to the presentation, the goals of PlayMyWay are to:
- Sustain recreational gambling by establishing feasible parameters
- Eliminate the regret arising from loss of control
For the research, prospective PlayMyWay participants at MGM Springfield were surveyed before the program’s launch. Those who signed up to participate were also surveyed post-launch. The researchers also had access to actual player account data (with player permission) to study their behaviors.
Wohl said that the data showed that participating in the program increased a player’s visits to the casino. Although they visited more, Wohl said they lost less money overall than those who did not enroll.
“What we’re seeing here is that they are maybe visiting the (casino) a little bit more, but they’re spending less money overall. So, the program is working – they’re losing less money.”
PlayMyWay players happier with casino visits
Research from the study found that those who used PlayMyWay reported being happier with their casino experience. Wohl said that’s likely due to the players setting and meeting reasonable expectations.
“If you go to a casino and you say, ‘I only want to lose $50,’ and then you walk out down $400, you’re going to be a very unhappy person. But if you say, ‘I’m only willing to lose $50,’ and then you leave $50 down, you’re a more satisfied player.”
Wohl said that, after enrollment, PlayMy Way participants reported being more likely to play at a casino that offered the program.
Researcher lauds state’s approach to responsible gambling
Wohl said the ultimate message of the study was that “PlayMyWay seems to work.” He was hopeful an academic journal would soon publish the study’s findings. He encouraged more research into PlayMyWay, including on how to increase enrollment.
Wohl expressed enthusiastic appreciation for the quality of responsible gaming initiatives and research coming out of Massachusetts.
“As an outside observer, I’m thoroughly impressed with the research that’s coming out of Massachusetts and (the state’s) willingness to engage in evidenced-based innovation. The information that is coming out of the commonwealth is incredibly valuable, not only for the people of Massachusetts but beyond. It is my hope that other jurisdictions see what is happening in Massachusetts and adopt it.”