New DGE Policy Instructs Operators to Monitor User Data for Signs of Gambling Addiction

In 2024, for the first time, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) requires online gambling operators to use player data to intervene proactively in suspected cases of problem gambling. The regulator is working with sites to spot warning signs in data they were collecting anyway for security purposes. The initiative has been underway since Jan. 1, but Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin made a public announcement about it this week to coincide with the approaching Super Bowl.

In a press release dated Feb. 7, Platkin said:

Under the Murphy Administration, New Jersey has become a national leader in online casino games and sports wagering, and with that growth comes a responsibility to ensure that individuals at risk for compulsive gambling have access to the resources they need to get help. It is no coincidence that our announcement comes just a week ahead of one of the biggest days in sports wagering, serving as a reminder of how devastating a gambling addiction can be. This new initiative will allow the Division of Gaming Enforcement to work with the gaming industry to identify problematic patterns in player wagering behavior and intervene before they escalate.

Keeping records of players’ deposits, withdrawals, and betting activity is standard practice in the industry. Players consent to this data collection as part of the site terms & conditions when they sign up.

Regulators require operators to monitor that data for security reasons, including anti-money laundering. Most operators also use it for marketing purposes, such as targeting bonuses. Some international jurisdictions also require them to watch for signs of problematic play. However, this is the first time a US regulator has introduced such a requirement.

A Data-Based Approach to Harm Reduction

Before this year, New Jersey’s responsible gambling strategy was two-pronged:

  • Sites provide players with responsible gambling information and tools to use at their own discretion, and
  • Operator staff members interact with players and keep an eye out for red flags.

The new initiative adds a third, more mathematical layer to this. Operators will now have to analyze account activity data for specific trends and intervene with players exhibiting them.

Reducing problem gambling is difficult, even when operators know what to look for. Just ask Kindred Group, which owns US operator Unibet.

In 2018, Kindred embarked on a journey to eliminate all revenue from problem gambling. Now in the fifth year of that effort, it still estimates it receives 3.3% of its revenue from high-risk customers and has been forced to admit that it’s finding it “more challenging than first expected” to get that number to zero.

That’s what makes a multi-faceted approach so important. The patterns the DGE requires operators to watch for include the following:

  • Weekly increases in the amount of time spent gambling
  • Repeated use of “cool-off” responsible gambling features
  • Repeated visits to the operator’s self-exclusion page without completing the process
  • A tendency to keep betting until the account balance is depleted
  • Multiple large deposits in a short period
  • Repeated requests to increase deposit or loss limits

DGE Director David Rebuck said:

We are using data to identify at-risk players, alert them to their suspected disordered gambling, and inform them about available responsible gambling features in online platforms and corrective actions they can take. This new approach will enable dedicated responsible gaming experts employed by the platforms and us to see the early warning signs and reach at-risk patrons before they find themselves in a financial catastrophe.

Escalating Interventions

What operators do when they detect such patterns depends on the severity of the suspected problem. The approach is also progressive in the sense that successive interventions will be more drastic if the player continues to exhibit worrisome tendencies.

What the DGE calls “Level One” doesn’t involve a direct human intervention at all. This initial response consists of displaying an automated responsible gambling message to the player and reminding them of the available resources.

A “Level Two” response temporarily halts the user’s session. The player then needs to watch a video tutorial about the site’s responsible gambling tools before being allowed to continue.

If those more gentle interventions don’t work, the operator’s responsible gaming team needs to step in directly. This “Level Three” response involves a one-on-one conversation with the player to assess the issue and take further action as appropriate.

Responsible Gambling in New Jersey

Naturally, anyone who believes they may have a gambling problem should not wait for automated intervention. Many resources are available for those who’d like to take a self-directed approach to curb their habits.

These include:

  • The 1-800-GAMBLER hotline
  • 72-hour or longer “cool-off” period
  • One- and five-year self-exclusion through the operator’s website
  • Permanent self-exclusion with the DGE
  • Self-imposed deposit or loss limits


About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is the Casino News Editor for NJ Gambling Sites. He’s a former semiprofessional poker player and has been writing about online gambling professionally since 2014. Prior to his current position, he was Managing Editor at Online Poker Report and, before that, the GameIntel Poker Update, a subscription newsletter for industry executives.