New Jersey Pioneers Responsible Gaming Task Force to Tackle Rising Gambling Problems

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In a proactive bid to strengthen responsible participation within New Jersey’s thriving gaming industry, all nine Atlantic City casinos have openly welcomed an unprecedented move by the state’s government – the establishment of the first-ever Responsible Gaming Task Force.

Last week, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 360, spearheading the creation of a trailblazing seven-person Task Force, or RGTF. This team’s mandate, as outlined by Murphy’s office and the state attorney’s general, is to address the mounting issue of problematic gambling and affirm New Jersey’s reputation as a strikingly fortified bastion of the gaming industry.

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Representing the nine coastal casinos, the Casino Association of New Jersey is a powerful lobbying force within the climate of Trenton politics. The Association owes its strength to the rich history and cultural prominence of Atlantic City, the jewel of New Jersey’s tourism industry. Having welcomed the inception of the RGTF, they publically lauded Governor Murphy’s leadership in taking steps to confront and counteract the rising tide of problem gambling.

Taking the reins in this fight for accountability and transparency is Attorney General Matt Platkin, who will chair the RGTF. Stalwart allies in his endeavor include Casino Control Commission Chair James Plousis and the Division of Gaming Enforcement’s Interim Director Mary Jo Flaherty, both of whom have been appointed to lend their expertise.

Recent studies have stunned stakeholders and the general population alike. A 2023 report from Rutgers University’s Center for Gambling Studies disconcertingly attests to the upward trajectory of problem gaming rates. To date New Jersey, a vibrant home to a multitude of gaming channels across Atlantic City casinos, acclaimed horse racing venues, retail and online sports betting, iGaming and parimutuel wagering, economically trails only Nevada in gaming richness.

An all-time high was recorded last year, with New Jersey gaming revenue skyrocketing to a staggering $5.77 billion. Coupled with state taxes which exceeded $595.5 million, the industry currently upholds around 52,000 jobs and contributes an estimated $12 billion to the American economy. Governor Murphy and his administration, key industry stakeholders and the casinos are all passionate about maintaining this robust industry, underscored by a commitment to responsible gaming.

Nevertheless, it’s a breathtaking challenge that rises ahead. According to the Rutgers study, 6% of New Jersey’s adult residents are in the high-risk category for problem gambling, a figure that far exceeds the national average of 1-2%. Low-income individuals, Black and Hispanic residents are more likely to find themselves facing problematic gambling habits, making a concentrated, statewide initiative essential.

The fight towards improved responsible play is further complicated by the patchwork of regulatory agencies governing the gaming industry, each with its own set of rules. Achieving uniformity in regulations, promoting equality in access to self-exclusion and facilitating limit-setting features are a few potential solutions suggested by the researchers.

Thus, the establishment of the RGTF by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy not only aims to wield the spotlight on the urgent issue of problem gambling but also seeks to fashion a well-calibrated symphony of cooperation and collaboration across all stages of this complex gaming world.