Massachusetts launches statewide self-exclusion scheme ahead of market debut
Emerging sports betting jurisdiction to allow residents to voluntarily abstain from gambling online
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has confirmed the expansion of its existing voluntary self-exclusion from gambling scheme to include sports betting online.
With effect from January 31, Massachusetts residents will be able to voluntarily exclude from both retail and digital sportsbooks as well as casino gaming floors and other forms of gambling.
Since the state’s self-exclusion scheme opened to land-based casino gamblers in 2015, more than 1,700 individuals have enrolled, with 1,329 currently still part of the scheme.
Those currently on the casino-based self-exclusion list will remain so and continue to be excluded from the casino floor including the soon-to-be-opened sportsbooks.
According to a 2022 study conducted by researchers at UMass Amherst, an estimated 13%-20% of Massachusetts adults have engaged in sports betting ahead of a regulated market.
The same study found evidence that the introduction of sports wagering and participation in sports wagering led to an increase in gambling-related harms.
“VSE [voluntary self exclusion] programs are proven to be a successful tool for those who need a break from gambling to manage their own play,” MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein said.
“In light of research we have at our disposal, the MGC and our licensees are committed to offering these types of programs and a range of other resources to help gamblers in the Commonwealth,” she added.
Early data on the Massachusetts self-exclusion scheme’s effectiveness found that enrollees reported significant improvements in gambling-related problems, mental health, and relationship quality, six-months after enrolling.
Responsible gambling has been high on the MGC’s agenda throughout the licensing process, with concerns ranging from the exposure of individuals to gambling advertising and the role of the pre-registration process in encouraging gambling in the state.
Also figuring highly on the MGC’s radar is the inclusion of promotional spend for operator tax purposes when calculating taxable revenue, something which can potentially lead to increased marketing spend by operators if excluded.