Responsible Online Gaming Association Brings Seven Major Operators Together To ‘Educate, Equip, Empower’

Eric Raskin

hands in

As Problem Gambling Awareness Month nears its end, a new organization announced its arrival Wednesday morning, with a specific focus on the online gambling sphere.

The Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA) counts among its member companies BetMGM, bet365, DraftKings, Fanatics Betting and Gaming, FanDuel, Hard Rock Digital, and PENN Entertainment, seven of the largest players in the U.S. online sports betting and iGaming space. The primary goal of ROGA, as stated on its website, is to “educate, equip, and empower consumers to make informed decisions about their online play.”

Dr. Jennifer Shatley, currently the president of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling and a 25-year veteran of the gaming industry, will serve as ROGA’s executive director in a full-time capacity.

“I am humbled, honored, and excited to be selected to lead ROGA during this important period of growth in legalized mobile gaming,” Shatley said. “Many of America’s largest legal mobile gaming operators will be establishing a framework that helps to aid in responsible gaming education and awareness. Together, our members will work alongside researchers, experts, regulators, and stakeholders to promote responsible online gaming and maximize our efforts to support additional responsible gaming education and awareness. By coming together with a clear set of objectives, ROGA and our members will work to enhance consumer protections and help provide easier and more efficient access to responsible gaming tools for consumers to enjoy the entertainment of online gaming.”

Five-pronged approach

ROGA’s approach centers around five pillars, as spelled out on the organization’s website and in the announcement release:

Research: ROGA will advocate for and fund independent research into gaming-related issues, such as effectiveness of RG measures aimed at promoting sustainable play.

Consumer and Industry Education and Awareness: ROGA will serve as a vehicle to drive both consumer and industry responsible gaming education and awareness and encourage responsible advertising and marketing practices within the industry.

Promoting Best Practices: ROGA will encourage and advocate for the application of evidence-based responsible gaming best practices.

Independent Data Clearinghouse: ROGA aims to create, via an independent clearinghouse, a database which will facilitate information sharing — allowing a mechanism for industry-wide protection of consumers.

Independent Certification Program: ROGA will establish an independent certification program which will assess operators’ responsible gaming efforts, providing operators with an objective independent evaluation of their responsible gaming policies and procedures.

The fourth pillar seems particularly notable, as it’s the first time these companies have agreed to share information about customers excluded due to problem gambling.

The seven member companies have, according to ROGA, pledged more than $20 million in support of this responsible gambling initiative in year one.

Inflection point for online gaming?

The formation of ROGA comes at a tenuous time for the online gambling industry.

Sports betting scandals have been in the news in a major way over the past week, even if both the mysterious Shohei Ohtani situation and the Jontay Porter prop betting irregularities largely qualify as arguments in favor of regulation.

Online casino legalization is at a standstill for now, with problem gambling concerns a factor in states like Maryland that continue to move deliberately on the issue.

A forthcoming federal bill to limit sportsbook advertising was announced last week and is in some ways emblematic of the national conversation about the threat posed by problem gambling.

With ROGA, it appears FanDuel, DraftKings, and the rest of the companies profiting most from online gaming recognize that a unified approach addressing RG is essential to the industry’s long-term sustainability.