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Gaming industry supports responsible sports betting | READER COMMENTARY

Legal sports betting’s recent launch across five sportsbooks in Maryland is giving fans the opportunity to legally wager on their favorite sports for the first time in state history. Adults in the Old Line State have quickly embraced this new, exciting way to engage with the sports they love, wagering $16.5 million in December. (”Sports betting in Maryland tops $16 million in first month as casinos approach revenue records,” Jan. 10).

Americans have been illegally betting on sports since there have been sports to bet on. Moving customers to the legal, regulated sports betting market means fans can get in on the action with protections they never had before. And for Maryland, this new form of wagering is an additional stream of tax revenue to close a major deficit in the state’s public education fund.

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Importantly, gaming is entertainment for adults and should be enjoyed responsibly. For sportsbook operators and the gaming industry broadly, responsibility is part of our social license to operate and a priority as we build a sustainable market.

Gaming companies have an obligation to our customers, especially those being introduced to sports betting for the first time. This is exactly why the industry set responsible advertising guidelines, invests in consumer education, evaluates the impacts of the legal market constantly and ensures access to help for anyone who needs it. None of this exists with illegal offshore websites and corner bookies.

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Like all industries, we need to continue to evolve our commitments to responsibility as the legal sports betting industry matures.

In late 2019, the gaming industry established the “Have a Game Plan. Bet Responsibly” public service campaign to educate new and seasoned sports bettors by encouraging fans to set a budget, keep it social, know the odds and play with legal, regulated operators. With more than 20 partners including BetMGM, FanDuel, PGA TOUR, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the Washington Football Team and more, we are building a responsible, sustainable market together.

The good news is that these efforts are paying off. Nearly 80% of past-year gamblers are aware of industry-provided responsible gaming tools and see specific measures like deposit and time limits and casino employee training as effective.

As gaming expands in Maryland, our industry is doing our part to make sure it grows responsibly — and we’re doing that by educating our customers and putting them first. This is our collective commitment to sports fans everywhere and ensures betting continues to be an exciting, engaging and safe experience.

Casey Clark, Washington, D.C.

The writer is senior vice president of the American Gaming Association.

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