Charting A Path To Effective And Successful Responsible Gambling

Written By Ian St. Clair on 03/01/2021 - Last Updated on March 5, 2021

Editor’s Note: The following article represents the views of the author.

Some might compare online sports betting to the Wild West.

This young, untamed territory is being shaped before our eyes, and we are learning the rules as we go. It’s an unknown path filled with excitement. And occasionally, danger.

Sometimes it’s easy to cross the line.

But what is the line? Where is the line?

Some may view this as no different than the full-fledged days of old Deadwood, where the line is up to you and you alone. Where we are meant to break the rules.

Some may see the line as a way to get consensus on rules that we should all follow.

As is the case with situations such as this, it’s not black and white. There are large amounts of gray.

Responsible gambling deserves serious attention

In terms of sports betting, one thing we should all agree upon is that the line is drawn at responsible gambling. But even then what constitutes responsible gambling and what is enough is something the industry is still trying to work through. There’s no better time to start this discussion then with National Problem Gambling Awareness month. It started March 1 and runs through the month.

As the industry, operators, regulators and users chart this new terrain, it’s imperative that everyone listens. Since there is no map, it’s critical people hear all arguments regardless of the side you fall on.

What some view as the correct course of action, others may not.

Though it’s safe to say an NHL team announcing (and then cancelling) a partnership with a foreign-based tout service crosses that line. For those new to sports betting, the Las Vegas Golden Knights not only inked a deal with a service that bettors pay a fee to get a list of picks that they can choose to follow 100% or not, it’s not even in the U.S.

When it comes to the line of responsible gambling, this deal crosses it.

And the Golden Knights got rightfully destroyed on social media for their “yikes” decision. They have since reversed course and backed out of the deal.

Not cut and dry

But other areas aren’t as cut and dry.

Should casinos and sportsbooks advocate for potential bettors to make an income off of sports betting?

For the vast majority of people who do Colorado sports betting online, it’s a form of entertainment.

It’s another way to watch and enjoy the teams and sports they love with the added thrill that they could win, too.

But there are also a ton of sharps out there who do base their livelihoods on sports betting.

Let’s say casinos advocated for people to play slot machines as a way to make an income. Is that a bridge too far?

What would the response to that situation look like?

It’s fair to assume that may look like the response to the Golden Knights signing a deal with a tout service.

There’s also the question of who does the heavy lifting when it comes to responsible gambling. Does that fall on the operators or the state?

At least for this last question, it feels like that should be a concerted effort, where each side does its share. This isn’t, and shouldn’t be, an issue that pits two sides against one another.

More questions than answers

Still, if you gather that there are a lot of questions here, you’re right. To add to the confusion, there are more questions than answers.

And there isn’t a right or wrong answer, either.

As the world of sports betting continues to chart its path in America, there are lessons for all involved to learn. From the novice to the expert.

The best way to reach the ultimate destination of an entertaining, fun and, most importantly safe, route is to listen.

Given how serious an issue responsible gambling is, perhaps it’s better to lean on the side of overly cautious than a brush-it-aside, blasé approach.

That could help take the dangerous, Wild West nature out of sports betting yet still take us to the exciting, safe destination we all want to reach.

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Ian St. Clair

Ian is an award-winning sports journalist and a University of Northern Colorado graduate. He’s a Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. He broke into the gambling industry right as Colorado launched legal sports betting in 2020. Ian now manages the sites for some of the biggest gambling markets in North America and is an analyst for PlayColorado.

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