According to a study conducted by a Canadian psychologist specializing in gaming behavior, Massachusetts gamblers don’t really know the rules of the games they are playing.
Dr. Richard Wood conducted a study with 1,500 gamblers that have played at a casino in the last 12 months. He used an online survey and their answers to formulate “positive play scores” from questions about personal responsibility, gambling literacy, honesty and control and pre-commitment. He presented the results to state regulators, according to a report from local media.
His results revealed that Massachusetts gamblers scored relatively average on the personal responsibility metric, as well as honesty and control and pre-commitment, which is a positive sign since it means problem gamblers are a rarity in the group.
But when it came to gambling literacy, only 37.5% of the group had high scores in that area. 34.4% scored in the medium range, while 28.1 percent a low gambling literacy.
Wood said that while the numbers were relatively close to its American counterparts, the Canadian doctor claimed that gamblers in his home country typically scored higher on the test. He said that “Canada and Scandinavia are really the kind of leaders in terms of responsible gambling.”
Wood recommended that regulators think about changing the verbiage used in responsible gambling ads and literature. Instead of using the phrase “responsible gambling,” use a phrase like “saving your bankroll” instead. The former phrase gives problem gamblers a false sense of security because they think it doesn’t apply to them and that they gamble responsibly.
He said that you want to make everyone conform to one idea, instead of separating the population into categories of gamblers.
“When you communicate to people what the majority of other people are doing, they can be very persuaded,” said Wood. “People… don’t want to stand out too much. They want to conform… so this can be a very powerful, persuasive way to get players to change their attitudes and behaviors.”
Massachusetts was one of the states that began easing restrictions on brick-and-mortar casinos after Gov. Charlie Baker allowed the state’s three casinos return to 24-hour operations at the end of January. It was also one of the slew of states that filed a bill to legalize sports betting in the 2021 legislative session.