NCRG Conference: Behind The Screen – Characteristics Of Internet Gamblers Who Trigger Responsible Gaming Interventions

Dr. Heather Gray

On Tuesday, theNCRG Conference on Gambling and Addictionco-located withGlobal Gaming Expo (G2E), the premier trade show and conference event for the gaming entertainment industry, to provide two “NCRG at G2E” sessions. This is the third year that the NCRG Conference co-located with G2E, making it easier for attendees of both events to learn about best practices in responsible gaming.

The first session on this year’s “NCRG at G2E” series examined characteristics of Internet gamblers who trigger responsible gaming interventions and featuredHeather Gray, Ph.D.She is a research associate at theDivision on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Gray began the session by providing an overview of the public health view of gambling disorders—the range of gambling problems (from mild to severe) and the range of interventions (i.e., health promotion, harm reduction and treatment).

To help study the need for different interventions for who those gambling online, Dr. Gray and colleagues formed a research collaborative with in 2004, in which they examined actual betting behavior of subscribers. Their mission was to prevent and reduce Internet gambling-related problems by (1) describing behavioral profiles of those with gambling problems, (2) predicting the development of gambling-related problems, and (3) creating evidence-based intervention strategies to help customers who have gambling problems.

To do this, the Division used the customer service and corporate social responsibility departments to identify events that might indicate a need for responsible gambling intervention. They compared the betting records of these players (“RG cases”) against matched controls, and they expected to find that the RG cases might show excessive gambling behavior compared to those who have similar exposure but do not trigger such flags.

They found that they were able to correctly classify 79 percent of subscribers and whether or not to flag them as RG cases. They also found that subscribers who were “flagged” by customer service gambled more intensely than subscribers not flagged (in terms of monetary involvement, time involvement and game involvement).

Dr. Gray noted that there are questions that still need to be answered, including:

  • How did responsible gaming event/response change gambling behavior, if at all?
  • What about the subscribers who triggered responsible gaming events but did not show excessive behavior (and vice versa)?
  • How does the responsible gaming screen compare with other ways of identifying subscribers with potential problems?

Before ending the session, Dr. Gray stated that the Division has created a website, The Transparency Project (, to share the data set and encourage more people to study and upload their own data sets to help move the science forward.

Did you attend the “NCRG at G2E” sessions? What did you find most interesting? What topics should the NCRG consider for next year’s program?

NCRG staffConference on Gambling and AddictionNCRG Conference on Gambling and AddictionResponsible Gaming NCRG at G2E