“Play My Way” Betting Limit Technology to be Tested in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has developed a technology named “Play My Way” which allows players to set daily, weekly, and monthly betting limits. Any gambler who uses a casino reward card in a Massachusetts slot machine is going to have access to the technology.
When a gambler places their rewards card in the slot machine, an onscreen prompt will ask the player to set a budget. The options for setting the budget include a day, a week, or a month. When the player reaches that limit, the machine will bar them from using that slots game — or any slot machine – in the casino.
Plainridge Park Is the Test Case
The technology was developed with $200,000 in funding from Massachusetts’ annual tax assessment on casino operators. The technology is set to be tested at Plainridge Park, a harness racing track and slots casino found in Plainville, Massachusetts.
Stephen Crosby on “Play My Way”
The tests start at the end of May, according to Stephen Crosby of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Mr. Crosby spoke to the press on Thursday about the upcoming research.
Crosby said the MGC recently received an update on the system’s development. When Plainridge Park received permission to open a slots parlor, it promised to research such technology. The technology is known throughout the world, but has never been used by American casinos.
Stephen Crosby said, “This has never been done in the United States before, and it’s never been done in any jurisdiction of the world where it’s been successful. So we’ve had to do this from top to bottom. That means everything from software design to marketing materials.”
Wynn Everett and MGM Springfield Might Use It
If the 2016 study proves successful, future brick-and-mortar casinos in the state would be required to carry the technology. That means Wynn Everett Casino and MGM Springfield Casino each would need to install “Play My Way” software in their slot machines.
AGA Is Skeptical
Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts each have a seat on the board of directors for The American Gaming Association. which has been critical of the technology, saying it has not been successful elsewhere. The AGA cited similar technology being used in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, and other prominent gaming destinations, and ultimately concluded the technology does not work.
In particular, the AGA points to the case of Nova Scotia, which implimented the system for 9 years, before it eventually scrapped the technology. Mark Vander Linden, the MGC’s Director of Research and Responsible Gaming, said the Nova Scotia model did not work, because their system was a great deal more stringent than the current one.
Nova Scotia Was a Failure
Mark Vander Linden said the Nova Scotia technology was mandatory, forcing all slots gamblers to use the technology. Also, the betting limits were rigged, so the Canadian gamblers could not change their limit. In Massachusetts, the use of “Play My Way” is voluntary, while the betting limits are flexible.
Enrolled gamblers would set a limit, then would be prompted when they reached 50% and 75% of their bet limit. Even when the total 100% loss limit was reached, they still would have the option to keep playing — or quit. The players also would have the option to change their bet limit at any time, or totally scrap their enrollment in the program.
Under such circumstances, anti-gaming advocates are likely to argue the Play My Way system has no teeth. If a problem gambler only needs to click on a graphic in order to keep playing, that gambler is unlikely to have any reason to stop. Research has shown that compulsive gamblers do not stop when they reach a catastrophic loss level.
Why Use “Play My Way”?
Advocates of “Play My Way” are likely to say that the technology is a reminder — and often problem gamblers only need a reminder to stop. They’ll also argue that any stop-limit is likely to be better than no impediments at all.
That is why the technology is set to be tested in late-May and June. If the technology works, then it is going to provide proof. If the technology has no effect on player numbers, then the statistics should show that to be the case. And if the technology drives away players, as it did in Nova Scotia, that should be obvious.
To test the results, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will need to compare this year’s numbers against the numbers from last year. That is one reason the “Play My Way” software needs to wait until May, because researchers need to be able to compare gaming revenues against a previous year’s results. With Plainridge Park a relatively new venue, the June results (when more gamblers gamble) should be a good time to test the revenue stream — and other player reactions.