2020 — A Year of Unique Challenges and Opportunities
The Covid pandemic of 2020 left almost no aspect of life untouched, including Oregonians’ gambling habits and preferences. Video Lottery had reduced or no availability during much of the year due to the closures of the businesses that host our terminals. As a result, we saw many Video Lottery customers shift their play to other products such as Scratch-its or Keno. We also saw gamblers shift to non-lottery, often digital, gambling products for much of the year.
As customers shifted to alternative Oregon Lottery games and other gambling products, or attempted to quit gambling “cold turkey”, we found that demand for problem gambling resources remained strong. Instead of reducing our outreach efforts during this time, we continued to offer services, pivoting to address the new realities imposed by Covid restrictions. In 2020, we implemented new approaches in advertising, research and training to continue to support Oregonians impacted by problem gambling.
Our overarching goals are really very simple. The Lottery will devote energy, funding, and resources where they will have the most positive impact on the promotion of responsible gaming practices (RG) and awareness of problem gambling (PG) resources. Our efforts are devoted to:
- Providing information and tools to help players make informed choices and enjoy Lottery games in a responsible way.
- Creating awareness of resources and treatment for those affected by problem gambling. We aim to ensure that people affected by gambling issues know how to access help, and that they understand treatment is free, confidential, and that it works.
Code of Practice
The Oregon Lottery must ensure and communicate progress in implementingg the Responsible Gaming Code of Practice. Using a combination of internal monitoring and independent assessments, we report on annual measures and key accomplishments each year. Annual measurements look at year-over-year trends when possible while our key accomplishments document non-repeatable activities.
The Responsible Gaming Code of Practice commits the Lottery to implement programs focused on research, employee, stakeholder, and retailer engagement. It also includes player education, retail & online gaming, treatment & referrals, and advertising & promotion.
Problem Gambling Resources and Treatment Awareness
Part of the Oregon Lottery’s mission is to ensure that players and others affected by gambling understand that there are a variety of resources and treatment options available. We emphasize that treatment is free for any Oregonian negatively affected by gambling; that it’s professional, confidential and, perhaps most importantly, that it works.
The Lottery promotes the availability of these problem gambling resources in a variety of locations. Some of these include:
- All gaming equipment
- Lottery and partner websites
- Oregon Lottery apps
We also use advertising and promotional outreach. Channels include social media, digital ads, broadcast, limited print, out-of-home, point of sale merchandising and public relations.
The Oregon Lottery conducts an annual study to help understand how our social responsibility efforts have impacted Oregonians over time. This year’s study indicates that Oregonians’ knowledge of problem gambling program features remained stable or increased — at least 8 in 10 Oregonians are aware that problem gambling treatment is confidential, provided by professionals, and available for anyone affected by gambling, including gamblers themselves, family members and significant others.
73% OF OREGONIANS ARE AWARE THAT LOTTERY FUNDS PROBLEM GAMBLING PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Connecting with Problem Gambling Resources & Treatment
Rather than a decreasing need for treatment and services during the 2020 pandemic year, our referral numbers indicate that demand for services remained strong, despite reduced availability of Video Lottery and other gambling opportunities for much of the year. Rather than reducing outreach during this period, our efforts to connect people with resources and treatment remained strong.
We continued to promote the phone number, chat and text options to the Oregon Problem Gambling Resource website (opgr.org). To ensure we continued to reach people as Covid restrictions evolved, we also addressed emerging issues like player isolation and a potential shift to online gambling. Directing people to online resources like virtual gamblers anonymous meetings and online self-help resources might also be reflected in these numbers.
Calls, Chats & Texts in 2020
Oregon Problem Gambling Website
Oregonians visit the Oregon Problem Gambling Resource website — opgr.org — to find more information about risks associated with gambling behaviors and to connect to free treatment and recovery services.
Total website traffic driven to OPGR.org in 2020
In 2020, we focused our key accomplishments on three new strategies during the pandemic. In part, these new strategies were developed to address emerging COVID-related responsible & problem gambling issues.
Advertising and Marketing
Especially in the early months of the pandemic, Oregonians were discouraged from leaving their homes except for essential purchases. There was a new emphasis on how to stay safe during such necessary transactions and on applying a “from home” model whenever possible. Our marketing and advertising efforts, including treatment referrals and player education marketing, reflected these new realities.
Player education — Pandemic specific messaging & marketing
At the beginning of the pandemic, we integrated responsible gaming messaging along with physical safety messaging in a campaign that promoted best practices for purchase and play of lottery games. The campaign “Play it Safe” sought to normalize responsible gaming messages as part of an overall self-care approach.
Player education — Ongoing messaging & marketing
Throughout 2020, we refined our approach of weaving responsible gaming messages into campaigns contextually. Instead of producing separate versions of ads or using disclaimers, RG messaging was included in a more organic fashion into the main campaign messaging. For example, our Holiday Scratch-it campaign included a prominent tag line, “The ‘It’ Gift for Grownups” rather than fine print stating, “Must be 18 to play.”
Treatment Referral Marketing — Being Relevant in a COVID world
While the pandemic presented obvious challenges to the Lottery, it also tended to intensify the issues faced by those struggling with a gambling addiction. Stay-at-home orders tended to cut people off from their usual support systems and impart a sense of isolation. Some players shifted to online gambling sites that offer 24/7 availability and few responsible gaming tools. Others simply didn’t want to leave the house and risk Covid exposures, even to meet with traditional support groups.
Like Oregonians in general, those needing help with a gambling issue developed new expectations around digital engagement. We pivoted our referral language to address this demand, including the availability of online and “from home” resources in all messaging.
Training and Research
Responsible Gaming Training
In 2020, we continued to provide Responsible Gaming training to both our retailer partners and our own staff. This year, we made our online training modules shorter and more interactive, while at the same time making the results more measurable. We also supplemented the modules with updated training specifically addressing Covid related gambling concerns as it became evident this would be the overriding issue in 2020.
Training for Video Lottery Retailers
The Oregon Lottery, along with all retail partners, recognizes there is an ongoing responsibility to promote Responsible Gaming. Our commitment to this shared responsibility includes providing Video Lottery retailer staff with the responsible gaming training they need to be effective and confident when facing gambling related situations during interactions with customers.
- Over 5,000 Retail Staff completed the training module
- 100% of Retailers had all key staff complete the training
- Average number trained at each retailer is 2.6, up from 1.7 in 2019
- Some larger retailers have had upwards of 30 staff trained at each location
- 97% of Retailers believe promotion RG is good customer service
- 94% know how to share information about odds and payouts
- 70% retailers strongly agree that RG is a shared responsibility between retailers and the Lottery
Sources #4 & #5
Training for Oregon Lottery Employees
All Lottery employees receive annual responsible gaming training. This 10-minute online training module equips staff with tools to address situations they may face when interacting with the public. Four hundred Lottery employees completed the mandatory refresher module. We introduced a new survey along with this training to gauge the effectiveness of the training and to make adjustments to future modules.
Special Retailer Training During Covid
During the pandemic, the natural interactions retailers normally have with customers while serving food or beverages was limited. Identifying when a player wasn’t coping well with a gambling issue became an even greater challenge. We encouraged retailer staff to continue to check in on Video Lottery players regularly and to take care of themselves too. We created a short video titled Caring for Yourself and Your Customers During Covid to guide these efforts.
In 2020, our research efforts provided guidance on future advertising and beneficiary support as Oregonians and the world navigated through the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19. As part of our efforts, we used a panel of on-line Scoreboard players to help gauge awareness around the use of RG tools available to them through the Scoreboard app, as well as surveying our own customer service personnel regarding the effectiveness of the training they had received.
Scoreboard Community Panel Survey
We completed 75 interviews with participants from a special Scoreboard Panel during March 2020. These members included frequent and higher wager Scoreboard players who had placed a bet via Oregon Lottery Scoreboard (either on the app or online platform). Results of this survey helped us gauge awareness of the Responsible Gaming tools that help players track their play habits, set bet limits, and temporarily suspend or close their accounts.
76% of Scoreboard users are aware of one or more RG tools
Scoreboard Customer Service Survey Data
The Lottery completed an online survey of Oregon Lottery customer service representatives during March 2020. Our goal was to understand the extent to which our customer service representatives are called upon to use their Responsible Gaming training during interactions with Scoreboard players and to gauge the level of confidence representatives feel in addressing players’ responsible & problem issues. The survey revealed that training was well-received and is sufficient for the limited interactions our customer service representatives have with Scoreboard players.
The Oregon Lottery is an associate member of the World Lottery Association (WLA) and currently holds the highest level of certification at level 4. WLA’s values are based on a commitment to the highest standards of corporate responsibility and are based on WLA Responsible Gaming Principles and Framework.
The Oregon Lottery is currently a Gold Member of the National Council on Problem Gambling and actively holds position on the board of directors and various committees. Membership provides a variety of experiences across multiple industries to strengthen NCPG’s leadership as the organization continues to grow and evolve.
The Oregon Council on Problem Gambling (OCPG) is the state affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling. The OCPG’s purpose is to promote the health of Oregonians by supporting efforts to minimize gambling related harm. The Oregon Lottery holds a position on the board of directors along with other stakeholders from the gaming industry, treatment and prevention field, the recovery community and state and county administrators.
The Oregon Lottery is an Associate Member of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL). Currently, Oregon holds “Sustaining” level certification through NASPL and NCPG which is the highest level available. In addition, the Oregon Lottery director serves as the chair of the NASPL Responsible Gambling sub-committee. NASPL’s mission is to assemble and disseminate information and benefits of state and provincial lottery organizations through education and communications and, where appropriate, publicly advocate the positions of NASPL on matters of general policy.
Formerly NCRG. The Oregon Lottery is an active member of the International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG), an international organization exclusively devoted to funding research that helps increase understanding of pathological and youth gambling and find effective methods of treatment.
- Marotta, J., Hynes, J., Rugle, L., Whyte, K., Scanlan, K., & Sheldrup, J., & Dukart, J. 2016 Survey of Problem Gambling services in the United States. Boston MA: Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators.
- Oregon Lottery: Brand Promise Study Summary of Findings Final Report: September 2020. N=800
- Oregon Lottery RG Staff Training Survey – Summary of Findings: Final Report November 2020. N=400
- Oregon Lottery Video RG Retailer Training Survey – Summary of Findings: December 2020 N=5501
- RG VL Retailer Training Weekly Status Report – Power BI 2020.
- Google Analytics 2020.
- Oregon Lottery Responsible Gaming Retailer Dashboard 2020.
- Problem Gambling Program – Annual Activity – Yearly Report CY2020.
- Oregon Lottery Scoreboard Customer Service Post Responsible Gaming Training Survey Results April 2020. N=30
- Scoreboard Community Panel RG Tools Awareness and Usage Study Results March 2020. N=75
- Problem Gambling Program – Annual Activity – Yearly Report CY2020.