The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has announced a record number of people have joined the state’s voluntary self-exclusion program (“VSE”). The program allows residents of the Bay State to opt out of casino gambling, sports wagering, or both for a set amount of time.

Those who opt-in to the scheme, are prohibited from entering land based gambling areas, automatically forfeit or suspend rewards points at venues, and are automatically removed from any marketing lists targeting customers with promotional rewards related to gambling activity.

Data presented showed that 1,430 Massachusetts residents are currently enrolled in the program. This includes 1,328 people voluntarily opting out of gambling at casinos, and 102 people are currently enrolled to prevent themselves from sports betting.

Credit: VSE

The most recent monthly data from April 2023 shows the number of participants in the casino gaming program reaching around the same record-highs as last summer, with the added sports wagering enrollments. Sports betting in Massachusetts became legal in January 2023.

Given the absence of Massachusetts online casino, there’s little surprise that the number of referrals to the VSE program have been steadily increasing in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, much like the rest of the country, Massachusetts casinos were shut – or at least severely restricted, leading to a large decrease in gambling activity.

How are they split between sports betting and casino?

Anther stand-out point is the 493 people who have been reinstated to the program since launch in June 2015.

With regards to sports betting and casino:

  • 102 people enrolled in self-exclusion from sports betting
  • 92 people were also enrolled in the casino gambling program
  • 10 people opted out of sports betting in isolation

Of the 10 people, 100% of the people are white, and 90% are men. The VSE statistics show that men outnumber women across the board, and 66% of those enrolled in the gaming opt-out are white.

Chief operations officer of the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health Chelsea Turner said she anticipated an increase of 50-60 by the end of the fiscal year.

She commented: “I think it’s a testament to our team for developing the remote option and also getting ahead on live chat way before sports betting was even launched.”

She added: “We’re finding that sports bettors are more similar to poker and parimutuel players than casino players. What that means is they consider themselves more informed and more skilled, more strategic. And in order for us to talk to them, we know that we need to meet them where they’re at. So by us becoming experts on sports betting, it helps to establish a nice rapport with them.”

She concluded: “You need to speak their language and meet them where they’re at.”

Responsible gaming regulation remains pivotal across the US gambling landscape. The American Gaming Association and all of its members follow guidelines encouraging American adults to play responsibly. Nations not caught under AGA are where there’s no legalized sports betting yet, such as Texas or lack of legalized casino in California.