The following is an outline of current Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling Regulations.

It is designed to be a helpful resource for those who desire to become more informed about compliance with existing PA gambling laws concerning the detection, limitation, prevention, and treatment of “Compulsive and Problem Gambling” behavior that occurs at on-site commercial casino properties or licensed online gambling services within the Keystone State.

The page and chapter numbers referenced in green font are taken directly from the official Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Final Regulations document (Pages #375-383).

Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling Regulations Guide

1. What regulatory body is responsible for oversight of Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling regulations?

The Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling (OCPG) is tasked with revision and approval of plans that are submitted by slot machine license holders in Pennsylvania. (Page 375: Chapters 501a.1 and 501a.2)

Slot machine licensees “may not commence operations until the Director of OCPG approves the plan.” However, once the plan is formally approved by the OCPG, compliance with said plan “will be a condition of license renewal.” (Page 375: Chapter 501.2.2[b][c])

The guidelines for the creation of such plans are very comprehensive, and cover an extensive range of Problem Gambling topics — many of which may require the expertise of licensed individuals* to competently address and communicate.

* For more insight into how such a licensed Problem Gambling expert may operate in a professional capacity, please consult the September 13th, 2017 testimony provided by “Certified Addictions Counselor” Jeanne David of The Stars Group, who appeared before the Michigan Regulatory Reform Committee. That testimony can be viewed directly in VIDEO #6, TIMESTAMP 0:00-6:16 of our Michigan Regulated iGaming Study Guide).

2. What specifically are Pennsylvania slot machine license holders required to submit in their “plans” to the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling?

There are 13 main points that are outlined in the official Final Regulations document: (Pages 376-378: Chapter 501a.2)

  • The plan’s goals along with timetables for implementation
  • Designate one individual who will be responsible for the plan’s implementation and maintenance
  • A broad list of policies and procedures that are further outlined in the document
  • Printed material (brochures, pamphlets, etc.) used to raise awareness of Problem Gambling issues
  • Overview of employee training program, which is a separate entry in the Final Regulations
  • Formation of a “Certification Process” that the licensee creates to validate said training
  • Summary of costs related to development, implementation, and administration of the plan
  • List of “community, public and private treatment services”
  • Industry-facing procedures related to the prevention of underage gambling
  • “Procedures to prevent excluded persons from gambling”
  • “Procedures to prevent intoxicated patrons from gambling”
  • Overview of “outreach programs” for employees and other personnel exposed to gaming areas
  • Sign posting layout (signs that “prevent and raise awareness of Problem Gambling”)**

** The specifications for how land-based sign postings, and/or other Problem Gambling communications are to be relayed — both online or on-site — are very specific (see below).

3. What information related to “sign postings” are licensees required to submit in their plans to the OCPG?

The “Signage” requirements themselves are brief and straight-forward. (Pages 380-381: Chapter 501a.5)

However, a Pennsylvania slot machine licensee must satisfy the following stipulations within its plan to the OCPG: (Pages 377-378: Chapter 501.a.2.13)

  • Additional policies/procedures to prevent and raise awareness of Problem Gambling
  • Grant the PGCB the right to share the plan with the Pennsylvania Department of Health
  • Submit any revisions to the plan 30 days in advance to the OCPG
  • Educate themselves on the “objection” process in cases when the OCPG objects to proposed changes

4. What regulations are in place for Employee Training Programs on Problem Gambling issues?

PGCB: Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling

VISIT: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (Compulsive & Problem Gambling webpage)

Employee training programs related to Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling issues must include instruction in the following 13 areas: (Pages 378-379: Chapter 501a.3)

  • Compulsive behavior symptoms and characteristics, as they relate to Problem Gambling
  • How Compulsive and Problem Gambling connect to other addictive behavior
  • Social and economic consequences of Problem Gambling
  • Protocols and techniques to be implemented when Problem Gambling is identified
  • Protocols for how to inform consumers about Problem Gambling resources available to them
  • Procedures for identifying and denying alcoholic beverages to “visibly intoxicated” patrons
  • Procedures for denying gaming access to said patrons
  • Guidelines for how to disperse material related to self-exclusion programs
  • Protocols for how to remove intoxicated, self-excluded, or underage individuals from land-based premises, as well as guidelines for when to involve law enforcement
  • Methods for ensuring that excluded individuals no longer receive promotional or marketing material upon 5 business days after receiving verification from the PGCB that an individual has been placed on said “exclusion” list
  • Methods for ensuring that individuals under the age of 21 do not receive marketing/advertising material
  • Methods for ensuring that excluded or underage individuals do not have access to “benefits” that slot machine licensees offer to preferred customers
  • Methods to prevent underage or excluded individuals from cashing checks***

*** There are numerous other specifications related to the maintenance and reinforcement of Employee Training Programs to prevent and raise awareness of Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling.

5. Are Pennsylvania slot machine license holders obligated to submit reports to the OCPG?

Yes. These reports must be submitted annually, and include the following: (Pages 379-380: Chapter 501a.4)

  • Detailed information related to ongoing employee training programs
  • Amount of printed material related to Problem Gambling handed out to consumers
  • Summary of costs related to implementation of Problem Gambling programs
  • Statistics on number of excluded and underage individuals, and number of Problem Gambling signs

6. Do Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling guidelines extend to marketing, advertising, and promotional material?

Yes. There are various restrictions in regards to how Problem Gambling information must be placed on slot machine licensee marketing material, as well as practices that license holders may or may not perform, in order to remain in compliance with OCPG regulations. (Pages 381-382: Chapter 501a.7)

  • Slot machine license holders may not contract with an individual or company to entice gamblers to wager real money, or patronize a specific slot machine or table game
  • Licensees must cease use of any promotional material determined by the OCPG to “adversely impact the public or the integrity of gaming”
  • Advertisements used by licensees or their agents must not: (a) contain false or misleading information, or (b) fail to disclose restrictions or conditions related to the promotion in question
  • Advertisements must not utilize fonts, colors, or other graphical manipulations that would obscure information pertaining to Pennsylvania Compulsive and Problem Gambling
  • All advertisements must contain a “gambling assistance message” in accordance with very specific guidelines that are stipulated within the Final Regulations document
  • These guidelines for displaying a “gambling assistance message” extend to video and television advertisements. For audiovisual marketing content, these messages must be displayed “on a dedicated screen shot” at the precise time that any gambling references or hardware/software are displayed, and must also be shown for the final 3 seconds of all video or television marketing communications

7. Do these advertising guidelines also include websites and/or social media?

Yes. They include both. (Pages 382-383: Chapter 501a.7)

The gambling assistance message must be posted on each webpage or profile page and on a gaming related advertisement posted on the webpage or profile page.”

The height of the font used for the gambling assistance message must be at least the same size as the majority of the text used in the webpage or profile page.”

The Problem Gambling message contained within webpage and profile page advertisements must be the same size as the majority of the text and must occupy at least “two percent of the height or width, whichever is greater” of the advertisement.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This guide is directly funded by Part Time Poker as a service to all parties who are interested in gambling regulations for Pennsylvania and other United States jurisdictions.

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