New Jersey Releases Detailed Study Profiling Online-Gambling Consumers

The State of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement [DGE] has recently released the results of a detailed study of online-gambling consumers’ habits, preferences and tendencies.  The research, conducted by Rutgers University’s Center for Gambling Studies, presents a comprehensive consumer-view profile of the New Jersey online-gambling market for the 2015 calendar year.

Seal_of_New_JerseyThe study, titled “Internet Gaming in New Jersey: Calendar Year 2015 Report to the Division of Gaming Enforcement,” is the second of four such annual reports mandated as part of the state’s ongoing regulatory oversight.  The ongoing studies include an emphasis on problem-gambling behaviors, including how they present themselves in a statistical sense.  That information, in turn, helps identify possible measures that can be implemented to limit such behaviors.

Highlights from the report include some long-assumed truisms, while other results offered some surprises.  Among the top findings:

  • Online gamblers in New Jersey tend to be younger than traditional land‐based gamblers; Those gamblers are also predominantly male, outnumbering women by a ratio of 3:1.
  • However, when the study focused on what were defined as “Top 10%” gamblers, the pro-male skew disappeared.  According to the study, “the average age was slightly older, and women made up slightly more than half the subgroup.”  The study inferred that women were more likely than man to have wagered on the casino-oriented games (e.g.: slots), but did not have enough data to fully explore that possible correlation.
  • “Top 10%” gamblers didn’t necessarily gamble at higher stakes than others; they simply gambled far more frequently, and with higher wage-amount variability.
  • When it came to gamblers who participated only in one gambling form, there was a huge gender-based split.  While men were roughly three-fourths of all online-gambling customers on the state-licensed sites, of those who gambled only on “casino” offerings, fully 40% were women.  Conversely, New Jersey online gamblers who wagered only on poker were roughly 90% men.
  • The prevalence studies also showed that a decent minority percentage of players participating on the NJ-licensed sites were actually non-residents who worked in New Jersey.  A “notable proportion,” according to the study, even gambled at work.
  • On a related note, a regional split showed that the highest participation rates on a per-capita basis came from northern New Jersey.  Of six New Jersey regions studied, the highest participation on the state’s online sites came from the Gateway region, that part of northeastern New Jersey closest to New York City.  The second-highest customer-penetration rates cam from New Jersey’s Skyland region, the northwestern part of the state.  The greater Atlantic City was only third among the six NJ regions in this regard.
  • Roughly 14% of the gamblers who were covered in the study also used the state-licensed sites’ responsible-gambling [RG] features at least once.  The study found no special split based on age, but reported that, “Player patterns indicate that gamblers choosing RG features bet more frequently but wagered less than those who did not use RG features. By far the most popular feature was self‐exclusion, with half of all RG users opting at some point to self‐exclude.  Setting deposit limits was the second most popular feature, followed by time limit, cool‐off, and loss limits.”
  • Percentage-wise, men were slightly more likely than women to use the sites’ RG features, particularly self-exclusion.  The study also identified these self-excluding gamblers as exhbiting “highly variable wagering patterns,” that could perhaps indicate addictive behaviors such as binge betting.  The researchers flagged these findings as an area for additional study.

One interesting finding from the study showed that gamblers who made use of the RG features fell into three distinct groups.  Per the report:

The remainder of the features were grouped according to three pervasive and distinct play patterns:  

  • Group 1 players opted to set the RG features before play, presumably as a harm‐reduction strategy.  
  • Group 2 set the RG features only after gambling then ceased gambling altogether.  
  • Group 3 gambled before and after selecting the RG feature.

For all limits besides cool‐off (deposit, time, loss), those who set limits before playing (Group 1) bet significantly fewer days, placed fewer bets, and wagered less in a year than those who either quit gambling after playing and setting limits (Group 2) or gambled before and after setting limits (Group 3). 

Among the study’s conclusions and recommendations were the declaration that problem-gambling protections worked well when consumers were both aware of and willing to use them.  However, the fact that only 15% of the state’s online-gambling customers have implemented such controls was held out as an area for improvement.  The study also cited complexity, inconsistencies, and a general lack of uniformity from one site to another as creating player confusion.  The study also recommended — though it might be a bit of a “nanny state” overreach, that registration for RG features and controls be a required part of registration on New Jersey’s licensed sites.

Overall, the study offers demographic details on the gambling public that few other jurisdictions make public.  The findings, in sum, can only help make online gambling safer and improve its acceptance in the mainstream gambling world.

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