Massachusetts to test first-in-the-nation slots pre-commitment technology

massachusetts-slots-precommitment-technology-trialPenn National Gaming’s new slots parlor in Massachusetts will become the first US gaming venue to trial pre-commitment technology in a bid to reduce problem gambling behavior.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced that Plainridge Park Casino, which became the state’s first brick-and-mortar gaming venue when it opened last June, will deploy the new Play My Way pre-commitment technology at the end of May.

Play My Way, which was developed in Massachusetts with funds contributed by the state’s new casino licensees, allows slots players to set limits on how much money they wish to spend in any gambling session by inserting their casino reward card into a machine at the start of play.

When a player reaches 50% of his predetermined gambling expenditure, the machine will automatically display an onscreen reminder. Similar reminders will appear at the 75% mark and again when the player’s preset limit is reached.

However, reaching their limit doesn’t bar a gambler from further play. Limits can also be adjusted on the fly and gamblers can opt out altogether from the system at any time.

Pre-commitment technology has had mixed results in the countries where it has been deployed, including Australia, where the video poker (pokies) machines are routinely deemed a national scourge. National brick-and-mortar casino lobby group the American Gaming Association has expressed doubts about Play My Way’s potential effectiveness but the MGC is determined to gauge the results for themselves.

Assuming Play My Way is found to have some value in curbing gambling excesses, the state’s other in-development casinos – MGM Resorts’ MGM Springfield, Wynn Resorts’ Wynn Boston Harbor and the Mashpee Wampanoag’s First Light Casino – would be required to implement the system when their facilities open.