Responsible Gaming Education Month: Empowering Players through Positive Play

September is Responsible Gaming Education Month (RGEM)! Twenty-five years ago, the American Gaming Association began dedicating a specific week during the year to increase awareness of problem gambling among gaming industry employees and players and promote responsible gaming nationwide. This initiative expanded in 2022 to become a monthlong opportunity to promote gaming literacy and consumer education, elevate employee training, and work with partners to advance understanding of responsible gaming. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is pleased to join organizations across the country in participating in this year’s RGEM, which is centered on four themes:

  • Empowering Customers to Play Responsibly (Sept. 1-10)
  • Legal, Regulated Gaming Protects Players (Sept. 11-17
  • Building a Responsible Gaming Culture Within (Sept. 18-24)
  • Advancing Responsible Gaming with Research (Sept. 25-30)

Before we discuss how we’re supporting responsible play, it’s important to understand what we mean by responsible gaming. Responsible gaming is the provision of gambling services designed to encourage players to maintain their gambling at a healthy level and minimize harm to players and the community.[i] Supporting responsible gaming is one of many strategies to reduce risk of problem gambling, or difficulty in limiting money and/or time spent gambling, which leads to adverse consequences for the player, others, or the community.[ii]

One way to support responsible gaming is promoting strategies to increase positive play. Positive play can be defined as the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of players about gambling so that it remains a recreational activity and creates minimal risk of experiencing gambling-related harm; for example, only spending what is affordable to lose and sticking to personally allocated spend and time limits.[iii]

A critical component of the MGC research agenda is dedicated to advancing an understanding of how to reduce harm through safer gambling strategies, practices and policies. In 2020, a research study was conducted to investigate the extent of positive play among 1,512 Massachusetts players, with a follow-up study conducted in 2022 among 1,996 players.iii,[iv] These studies explored the specific areas where positive play could be further supported and identified the extent of positive play among different player groups. This study used the Positive Play Scale (PPS) to measure gambling beliefs and behaviors consistent with positive play. The PPS has two gambling beliefs sub-scales to measure positive beliefs about gambling and two behavior sub-scales to measure positive gambling behavior:iv

Key findings included that most players in Massachusetts played positively. Most players scored high on personal responsibility (which was the highest scoring sub-scale) as well as honesty and control, and to a lesser extent pre-commitment. Most players scored medium or low on gambling literacy, which was the lowest scoring sub-scale.iv

Importantly, this study also found that playing responsibly and holding responsible beliefs about gambling do not appear to decrease satisfaction with gambling. This suggests that responsible gaming promotion initiatives have not been a deterrent to responsible play–and may provide added value. Pre-commitment was also linked to satisfaction, which makes sense in that players who pre-determine how much they can afford to lose and then adhere to that limit are unlikely to experience high levels of anxiety due to their gambling losses.iii

One implication from this study includes that efforts should focus attention on encouraging players to use pre-commitment tools to determine ahead of time how much time and money they will spend gambling before they begin gambling.iv For RGEM this year, our GameSense team is working with the Massachusetts casinos to showcase and promote PlayMyWay, which is a voluntary self-budgeting tool available on all slot machines and electronic table games in MA, as well as play management tools available across the sports betting apps.

The theme of RGEM “Play it Smart from the Start” was selected because, as the research shows, setting a budget is a core responsible gaming strategy.   Therefore our goal for this month is to increase players’ use of the budgeting tools available through the casino and sports wagering mobile sites.

[i] McMillen, J., & McAllister, G. (2000, May). Responsible gambling: Legal and policy issues. In 3rd National Gambling Regulation Conference, Rex Hotel, Sydney (pp. 11-12).

[ii] Neal, P. N., Delfabbro, P. H., & O’Neil, M. G. (2005). Problem gambling and harm: Towards a national definition.



Stay Updated
Sign up to receive the latest gaming news and updates!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.