Bettor Safe – A New Educational Campaign About Online Gambling

Bettor Safe – A New Educational Campaign About Online Gambling

As more and more states expand access to sports and online gambling — amid ever-advancing technology — the need for comprehensive compliance and consumer protection will be critical to minimizing the harm to gamblers.

Advanced technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it provides easier access to gambling options, as one can place their bets on the bus, on a lunch break or from their home, playing with little to no disruption. For those with a gambling problem, this could exacerbate the harms. However, on the flip side, with so much data being collected on the player (and information used by the operator for marketing purposes and to keep players engaged), there are opportunities to do more advanced player interventions if they appear to be exhibiting problem behavior. This means that as more gambling migrates to online platforms, regulators and operators can no longer turn a blind eye to customers who are not playing responsibly.

Gambler education is one key to reducing harm for those who gamble online. Bettor Safe ( is a new consumer education campaign designed to highlight the risks of illegal betting sites and provide consumers with resources to improve their understanding of online betting. Currently, online gambling and sports betting is not legal in Minnesota. This means that those engaging in these activities are being directed to offshore, unregulated sites. Bettor Safe points out the differences between regulated sites and unregulated sites. It is currently running campaigns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two early adopters of sports and online gambling.

Bettor Safe was developed by the founders of GEOComply, the iGaming industry’s go-to for reliable, accurate and precise geolocation services. GEOComply has been expanding its offering beyond its primary focus of geolocation into areas such as multi-state KYC (Know Your Customer) and digital ID verification, payment and fraud analytics, and responsible gaming. Bettor Safe is the first initiative of GEOComply’s Conscious Gaming, a separate nonprofit that is developing responsible gambling tools as a way of giving back to the industry.

BCLC New Horizons Conference in Responsible Gambling 2021

BCLC New Horizons Conference in Responsible Gambling 2021

The annual New Horizons Conference in Responsible Gambling, hosted by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), attracts critical and forward thinkers that consider how the gambling industry can improve its role in developing meaningful responsible gambling tools. Last year, BCLC committed itself to a long-term aspirational goal of future proofing the industry — a point where no gambling revenue would be generated by those exhibiting problem gambling or gambling disorder. This year’s theme was Player Health Reboot: Resetting the Future.

Futurist Sanjay Khanna detailed the large-scale environmental and societal changes the globe is grappling with and how this era will impact the future of the gambling industry. Khanna explained how influences like climate change and the proliferation of smart phones and social media will affect player health, social resilience and the future concept of play. He offered suggestions on how operators, product designers and policy makers can use technology, innovation and diversity to ‘reset’ and prepare for a future that is positive, resilient and sustainable. He emphasized that player health needs to be considered by design and incorporated into the early inception of new products and services.

Another thought-provoking session was presented by Dr. Brett Abarbanel, director of research at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She examined the definition of gambling and how elements of gambling and chance appear in unexpected ways in video games, Esports, virtual reality and other applications.

Dr. Abarbanel explained how the word gambling can mean different things to different people. She noted that it can mean a casino game, a slot machine, a poker game, the flipping of a coin at the start of a sports contest, or when rolling the dice in a board game. Regulators in jurisdictions worldwide are challenged by these questions in determining the legality of emerging video-gaming elements such as loot boxes.

“Game developers, toy designers and spectator- engagement tool creators who are putting these things together may not even realize the potentially legal and certainly social ramifications of even just adding a simple random number generator to their games or other gambling-like elements,” says Dr. Abarbanel. “How we define gambling really starts to come into play.”

Cultural Competency In Treating Problem Gambling

Cultural Competency In Treating Problem Gambling

As most people know, the American healthcare system has not treated people of color (POC) equitably. The pandemic has focused attention on the disparities between Whites and People of Color, as COVID fatalities are much higher for POC than Whites. Add in the racial unrest occurring in our own backyard — and around the country — and you get a sense of the stresses faced by POC. As a result, traditional counseling that White people might access is not the first choice for POC seeking help.

A virtual webinar conducted by Dr. Deborah Haskins, Ph.D., LCPC, ACS, MAC, ICGC-II, BACC, CEO, Mosaic Consulting and Counseling Services and President of the Maryland Council of Problem Gambling, highlighted some of the cultural interpretations among POC, examined some of the cultural considerations influencing gambling disorder, and introduced the cultural attunement model in her program Cultural Competency, Equity and Inclusion and Disordered Gambling Treatment and Prevention. Dr. Haskins stressed the need to understand cultural context when considering clients of color. Problem gambling is perceived as a “White man’s problem” because the approach to prevention seems only geared to Whites and POC do not see themselves represented.

Dr. Haskins provided overviews of various communities, including African American, Native American, Southeast Asians and Latinx. Each have very different views of gambling and how, when and where to seek help. Talk therapy is not the best fit for many communities and Dr. Haskins suggested we need to do more to shift the way in which we design and support problem gambling programs. She also described the cultural attunement model whereby counselors incorporate these five dimensions into a program:

1. Acknowledge the pain of cultural oppression.

2. Employ acts of cultural acceptance — ability to maintain a balanced perspective about one’s talents, successes and failures. Try to emphasize the positives to buoy their spirits since they have been so marginalized.

3. Act with cultural reverence. This requires that counselors think/listen/act from the heart and bring forth feelings of wonderment regarding how people bring meaning into their lives.

4. Engage in mutuality — cultural kinship — appropriate sharing of common experiences.

5. Possess the capacity to “not know” and be culturally open. The client is the true expert on their lives so tap into the expert knowledge they possess.

Overall, there needs to be new ways in which we approach treatment for POC. There must be real awareness of social and economic justice and understanding of past traumas (Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACES screening). Dr. Haskins stressed that we need to acknowledge the pathologies along with the resilience and keep stressing prevention.

NPGA To Launch Its Inaugural Clergy/Spiritual Training

NPGA To Launch Its Inaugural Clergy/Spiritual Training

This spring NPGA is offering its inaugural International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (IGCCB) clergy/spiritual leader training. We seek to expand outreach throughout Minnesota and among community groups that don’t necessarily see counseling/treatment as their first step towards help. The goal of the program is to increase the knowledge and equip influential community leaders with some basic understanding of problem gambling. The program provides spiritual leaders an opportunity to interact with each other as they seek to increase their community’s awareness of the issue of problem gambling, reduce any stigma related to problem gambling and facilitate discussions about ways in which harm can be minimized.

As part of this initial training, eight leaders from the Twin Cities Nigerian community will learn about gambling disorder, who it impacts, available resources, and how to engage in conversations that help those impacted as well as educating their congregations and community groups.

Each of the eight individuals will take 16 hours of online course work in the following eleven modules:

  1. Definitions and Diagnostic Criteria
  2. Special Populations and Gambling Disorders: Women and Multicultural
  3. Scope and Prevalence of Disordered Gambling
  4. Assessing Gambling Disorder
  5. Co-Occurring Disorders and Gambling Disorders
  6. Screening for Gambling Disorder and Impacts of Gambling
  7. Best Practices and Evidence-Based Strategies for Treatment of Gambling Disorder: Motivational Interviewing
  8. Family Intervention
  9. Financial Issues and the Meaning of Money
  10. Neurobiology and Psychopharmacology
  11. Special Populations and Gambling Disorders: Youth and Older Adults

In early May, the group convened on Zoom with a trained spiritual facilitator to discuss possible scenarios and ways they can engage their community member in a meaningful and resourceful way. Those who completed the full 24 hours will receive a certificate of completion. The IGCCB offers an actual certification that can be obtained by doing additional community project work, but for this inaugural program NPGA opted for the certificate. We will revisit this once we’re well past the restrictions of COVID.

As Seen on Intenta Newsletter

As Seen on Intenta Newsletter

.Worth Reading This Month

·         ​Link between loot boxes and problem gambling has been “robustly verified” in new research.

·         ​Gaming the system: legally-required loot box probability disclosures in video games in China are implemented sub-optimally

·         ​Leaked recording captures discussion of Counter-Strike match fixing

April Spotlight – Monetization tactics in video games

This month, we’re highlighting the tactics used in video gaming and the links to problem gambling.

The gaming and gambling industries have converged, borrowing sophisticated techniques from each other to engage and profit from players – now games are increasingly monetized and gambling is more game-like.

Loot boxes – virtual items in video games that contain randomized rewards – is one such technique borrowed from the gambling world that has become profitable for the gaming industry. For example, YouTuber Mr Beast recently posted a video of himself opening loot boxes, ranging from $100 to $250,000, with a total value of $500,000. Within two weeks of posting, the video had been viewed over 40 million times.

Although the gaming industry claims that loot boxes are unproblematic, non-gambling activities, this claim is refuted by the evidence.

Recent research by GambleAware reports that 12 out of 13 studies have established ‘unambiguous’ linking of loot boxes to problematic gambling behavior (Close & Lloyd, 2021).

There are a number of other emerging trends in gaming:

·         Increased access to risky games through mobile adoption and free-to-play models.

·         Using real money for virtual currency leading to a warped perception of value.

·         More opportunities to gamble with faster-paced action and random rewards.

·         More ‘real-life’ loot boxes, virtual skins and character customization.

·         More data for companies to leverage.

Using behavioral analysis, the gaming industry adjusts game mechanisms to increase spending by gamers.

Gaming companies also use AI to predict, identify and hunt down ‘whales’ – individual gamers who will spend thousands of dollars on a single platform (Handrahan, 2019).

However, gamers are taking notice of the monetization tactics within games. A survey of 1100 gamers in the UK found players reported over 35 different types of ‘predatory’ techniques perceived by gamers to be misleading, aggressive or unfair. The practices were often seen by gamers to be pressuring them to spend money. (Petrovskaya, Elena & Zendle, David, 2021).

Research indicates that harms from gambling-like mechanics in games disproportionately affect adolescents and young people.

Given the concern “that gambling is now part of everyday life for children and young people” through video games (BBC News, 2021), understanding these predatory tactics will increase our effectiveness at safeguarding the psychological and financial well-being of gamers.

Clinicians need to be equipped to deal with problematic gaming behavior. Get started today by registering for our Gaming Disorder Clinical Training.


BBC. Loot boxes linked to problem gambling in new research. 02 April 2021.

Close, James and Joanne Lloyd. (2021). Lifting the Lid on Loot-Boxes Chance-Based Purchases in Video Games and the Convergence of Gaming and Gambling. Report Commissioned by Gamble Aware.

Handrahan, M. (21st October 2019). Yodo1’s AI-driven whale hunt is a bad look for the games industry: Opinion. Retrieved from

Petrovskaya, Elena & Zendle, David. (2021). Predatory monetisation? A categorisation of unfair, misleading, and aggressive monetisation techniques in digital games from the perspective of players.

Recovered Video Game Addict Creates Support Community for Professionals and Players

Recovered Video Game Addict Creates Support Community for Professionals and Players

Cam Adair, a video gamer in recovery, has made his life’s purpose to prevent others from reaching the same depths as he did. Cam’s life took a dramatic turn at the age of 11 when he began to experience intense bullying, leading him to drop out of high school and escape into gaming. He never graduated, and while all of his friends were off to college, Cam was playing video games up to 16 hours a day.

Struggling with depression he reached rock bottom when he wrote a suicide note, and it was this night when he made a commitment to change.


The stated goal of INTENTA is to equip mental health professionals with resources on digital disorders to empower an intentional digital culture. It provides internationally accredited training that covers a comprehensive overview of problem and disordered gaming, allowing mental health professionals to understand the context, dynamics, mechanisms and special issues that present with gaming clients.

According to INTENTA’s website, professionals lack the tools and training to effectively screen clients, which greatly increases the risk of misdiagnosis and ineffective treatment. Without training, professionals cannot effectively communicate nor relate to clients who engage primarily in digital spaces.

Distraught family members of loved ones with gaming issues may seek help from mental health professions, who lack the training to assess and counsel families to provide effective interventions. Without comprehensive education, these professionals can cause harm by
making ineffective and counterproductive interventions.

Another challenge is the rapid rate of change and evolution in video game technology. INTENTA helps professionals stay current with ever-increasing game innovations and their client’s struggles.

After completing the INTENTA training, professionals will:

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  • Improve quality of care and reduce potential risk of harm for clients
  • Understand the psychology of gaming and recent innovation trends
  • Have validated screening tools to identify at-risk clients
  • Be abel to implement practical strategies for prevention, treatment and recovery
  • Be a valuable source of knowledge among colleagues
  • Be an international recognized specialist in gaming disorder

For more information about INTENTA, visit


Game Quitters is the world’s largest support community for video game addiction, which currently serves members in 95 countries. The Game Quitters website ( provides a wealth of information, including more than 200 videos about video gaming addiction and a list of ideas to replace gaming. The site also provides an addiction test for gamers, lists of resources and support groups, and other information to help those with a video game addiction as well as parents and concerned others.

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