DraftKings CEO: Some Problem Gambling ‘Onus’ On Bettors Too

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It is not wholly on sports betting companies to help problem gamblers overcome their addiction, according to recent comments by DraftKings CEO Jason Robins.

In an interview published by Fortune on Friday, Robins discussed the role betting companies like DraftKings have in battling problem gambling and maintained that they can only do so much.

“It’s not this black-and-white line,” Robins said in the article. “There is some onus on the individual in these situations, too. But there’s a role we also have to play. We have to make sure that we’re both doing what we can to prevent it.”

“People who have gambling issues, they’re going to have a gambling issue. And the job is to help identify those people and get them the help and get them to understand they need help. … It has to be on them to decide that they want to change that behavior.”

No additional context from DraftKings

DraftKings did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Separately, the company is fighting a class-action lawsuit in Massachusetts that alleges one of its bonus promotions purposely deceives customers. DraftKings has vowed to “vigorously defend” itself, maintaining that it takes “consumer protection and responsible gaming seriously.”

DraftKings responsible gaming initiatives

DraftKings employs a range of initiatives to promote safe responsible gambling practices and combat problem gambling, according to its website:

Nearly 10 million US problem gamblers

There are roughly 2 million “severe” problem gamblers in the US, and another 5 million to 8 million who qualify as “moderate” problem gamblers, according to the NCPG.

DraftKings is one of seven members of the Responsible Online Gaming Association, formed last month. Collectively, the group has committed $20 million this year for responsible gaming research, promotion of best practices and driving education in the space. In 2022, DraftKings also donated $1 million to responsible gaming efforts in its home state of Massachusetts.

An industry source with knowledge of the group’s formation said that its timing had nothing to do with recent betting inquiries across MLB, NBA and NCAA sports. The groundwork for the group began last year, according to the source.

Use of AI for problem gambling

DraftKings does not use artificial intelligence to identify behavioral patterns symptomatic of problem gambling, Robins said.

“We’re not using AI in that way [that learns the language of addiction],” Robins said. “Were we ever to employ AI in a way that was trying to do things that would show certain products or whatever, it would be much more ease-of-use driven.”

US Rep. Paul Tonko is pushing a federal bill to ban sports betting companies from tracking customer habits or personalizing promotions through AI.

Congress is also considering a bill that would use sports betting tax revenue to fund gambling addiction recovery, though it has been pending with a House subcommittee for the last three months.

DraftKings does not want problem gamblers: Robins

Robins noted that DraftKings does not want to attract customers who are problem gamblers in the first place.

“You have to try to build the product so that it’s providing value for the people who should be playing it. And the people who shouldn’t be playing it, you have to try to have them not play the product,” Robins said.

He added that while AI can provide models to detect certain behavioral patterns, it is “a delicate thing, right? All we can do is flag high-risk situations and then have more manual interventions that dig into them.”