Caesars Interactive Entertainment was fined this week by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) after the operator revealed it had accidentally permitted five known problem gamblers who had put themselves on a self-exclusion list to create accounts and wager at their online casino.
Caesars also determined it unintentionally delivered promotional materials to 231 others who were also on the prohibited directory.
“We self-reported the error to the DGE after we were notified by our third-party provider a lapse in procedure occurred,” Seth Palansky, vice president of corporate communications for Caesars Interactive Entertainment said. “We regret the error, and apologize to those affected by it.”
So what’s the penalty for allowing and marketing to problem gamblers who are trying to avoid the industry for their own self-good? According to the DGE, $15,000, not even a slap on the hand for the online gaming operator.
Considering Caesars had revenues of more than $8.5 billion last year, the penalty won’t be causing any loss of sleep among executives. “We accept the punishment and will work more diligently to avoid a repeat mistake,” Palansky commented.
Palansky’s goal of avoiding a repeat mistake is an admirable notion, but history doesn’t appear to be on his side.
Just last year, the company was fined $10,000 for mailing promotional materials to 250 self-excluded gamblers, and an additional $3,000 for its billboards failing to adequately display the required “1-800-GAMBLER” compulsive gambling hotline number.
That $13,000 fine apparently wasn’t substantial enough to motivate Caesars into cleaning up its loose ends in regards to problem gamblers. This week’s $15,000 penalty might just be another step in history repeating itself.
Avoiding contact with gamblers who place themselves on the self-exclusion list is a tall task, and one that is rather difficult due to the ongoing and real time nature of the directory.
Gamblers can sign-up at any given time, both online and in a brick-and-mortar casino, to block their future entry into the casino or digital gambling venue.
Scheduling a mailing or marketing campaign is problematic due to the list’s ever-changing nature, however, it certainly wasn’t the reason for 231 problem gamblers being contacted.
Palansky says it was a computer glitch that caused the inadvertent targeting, citing a “back-end software issue” as the culprit.
The more startling revelation is that five users were allowed to create accounts on Caesars’ branded sites and place wagers all the while being on the self-exclusion list.
Why the account verification protocols failed, which includes entering the player’s home address and social security number, both pieces of information required to place oneself on the problem gambling directory, is unknown.
Palansky believes those five players were recent additions, and that there wasn’t sufficient time for their inclusion into the safeguards.
The account creation process is one of the most highly contested issues surrounding online gambling, as opponents to the continued legalization say the process is prone to errors and can allow problem gamblers, underage gamblers, and those residing in neighboring states to participate.
Preventing further gaffes from making their way to the media could help the fight against the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) and other leading attempts at iGaming prohibition. If networks fail and opponents succeed, the economic impact will be much greater felt than a miniscule $15,000 fine.