Massachusetts Casino Study Finds Most Gamblers Unaware of Odds

Posted on: January 31, 2021, 01:42h. 

Last updated on: January 31, 2021, 03:20h.

A casino study conducted for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) concludes that the majority of players don’t fully understand the odds they’re facing while gambling.

Massachusetts casinos gambling study
Gamblers line up outside Encore Boston Harbor before its grand opening in June of 2019. A new study finds that many gamblers in Massachusetts don’t understand the odds of the games they’re playing. (Image: Wynn Resorts)

Gamres, a research and consultancy firm based in Canada, surveyed more than 1,500 gamblers in Massachusetts to learn more about their beliefs and behaviors. Among the review’s key findings is that most gamblers are largely unaware of how much the odds are in the house’s favor.

Dr. Richard Wood, a psychologist who specializes in gaming behaviors and led the study, presented the discoveries to the MGC last week.

Wood revealed that just 37.5 percent of respondents have a high “Positive Play Scale” (PPS) rating when it comes to gambling literacy. The report summarizes gambling literacy as “the extent to which a player holds an accurate understanding about their odds of winning.”

Wood explained that 34.4 percent of those polled have a medium gambling literacy rating, and 28.1 percent are classified as having a low understanding.

Wood codeveloped the PPS rating system in 2017. The mechanism is designed to optimize responsible gambling measures by better understanding gamblers.   

Gambling Education Recommended

In his suggestions to the state gaming agency, Wood advised the commission that it develop initiatives to better educate gamblers. And that education should focus on younger gamblers.

“We can speculate that as players gamble over time, they get more experienced, they learn more about the games, and get more exposed to responsible gambling initiatives,” Wood told the MGC. “And, of course, being young is more of a time, in general, for risk-taking.

But I think it shows us that having a focus on younger players and using media that would appeal to those players could be a useful way to focus responsible gambling strategy going forward,” he added.

Woods disclosed that Massachusetts gamblers have similar gaming literacy rates as three other states where Gamres conducted reviews. However, he said US gambling literacy is lower compared with gamblers in Canada and Scandinavia.

“In terms of responsible gaming, I would say that Canada and Scandinavia are really kind of the leaders in terms of responsible gambling. They put a lot of resources into responsible gambling initiatives,” Wood explained.

Most Gamblers Play Responsibly

Wood also revealed to the MGC that more than three quarters of gamblers in Massachusetts have a high PPS when it comes to “personal responsibility” in relation to their betting. Nearly 77 percent of respondents showed that they clearly understand the importance of gambling within their financial means.

The American Gaming Association found in a 2019 study that approximately 90 percent of gamblers in the US play responsibly.

“Responsible gaming is our industry’s top priority,” said AGA President Bill Miller. “This research indicates that our unwavering commitment to responsibility is resonating with our customers.”

Massachusetts was the first state to require its casinos to incorporate GameSense services. Developed by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, GameSense is a “player-focused responsible gambling program that encourages players to adopt behaviors and attitudes that can reduce the risk of developing gambling disorders.”

Each of the state’s three casinos — Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park — have GameSense kiosks staffed with persons trained in gambling disorders.