MGC launched two RFPs

Massachusetts commissioners seeking to study impact of iGaming on public, use of AI in gambling

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is seeking bids for research into the potential impacts of iGaming and the use of artificial intelligence in the gaming industry. The commission initiated two requests for proposals (RFPs) this month as part of its research agenda. 

The research priorities were proposed by the Gaming Policy Advisory Council and approved by gaming commissioners, reports Rhode Island Current They signal potential concerns and expectations for gaming’s evolution in the state.

The first RFP looks for an entity to conduct a study “on the impact of iGaming on public health, with particular focus on the comparison of participants with participants in other forms of gaming, comorbidity with problem gambling, and impacts on youth under the age of 25 in the Commonwealth.”

The second one considers “current and future possible uses of artificial intelligence (AI) in the gaming industry, with a particular focus on marketing, player acquisition, and responsible gaming functionality/player health in the Commonwealth.”

According to the report, both the iGaming and AI studies are budgeted for $75,000 – smaller-scale projects when compared to other recent studies by the commission that have landed in the $100,000 to $150,000 range.

Massachusetts has embraced gambling for well over a decade. The legalization of casinos in 2011 by then-Gov. Deval Patrick and the campaign for legalized sports betting by Gov. Charlie Baker ushered in the state’s widespread adoption of gambling. 

Gov. Maura Healey is now following Baker's push for the state Lottery to include online, or iLottery, offerings. Even though the House of Representatives supports the move, it has been resisted for years by the state Senate.

Rhode Island Current quoted a Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokesperson who on Wednesday said that the study aims to evaluate the iGaming universe “preemptively,” with the aim to get ahead of the next potential waves

Sports wagering has grown significantly since 2018,” Mark Vander Linden, Director of Research and Responsible Gaming for the Commission, said in a public meeting last year, as the group discussed its research agenda going forward. “iGaming also is gaining a foothold in the United States.”

According to the commission, research on online gaming is “somewhat limited”, with Rhode Island becoming the latest state to legalize iGaming. Seven states allow online gambling generally, though Nevada only allows online poker.

Sports betting, but not other types of online gambling, is prohibited across state lines by the federal Wire Act. The bid document notes that politicians considering online gaming tend to express some unease with its potentially addictive appeal to younger people, and its adoption within states has been slow for those reasons.

The artificial intelligence RFP is also looking ahead, drawing on initial work done last year to shape the commission’s approach to AI in gaming. The commission is seeking to engage stakeholders on current and future uses of the technology to identify and address those most at risk of problem gambling.

So far, artificial intelligence is being considered or adopted within the gaming industry for purposes like responsible gambling, marketing, and fraud detection.

The bid document highlights: “Researchers note that ‘AI is not good or evil itself, it is the use we give to it that can harm or benefit users. A thoughtful consideration of ethical issues is critical while considering implementation of this technology.”

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