Exclusive Interview on Unregulated Online Gambling with Therapist Reginald Terry

Interview with gambling addiction therapist

As the American online gaming market gets bigger and bigger, regulation has become a
hugely important issue. In this wide-ranging interview, Detroit-based therapist Reginald
Terry considers player safety, looks at the dangers posed by unregulated gambling sites, asks
what can be done to combat problem and underage gambling and assesses the different
ways brick and mortar and online gaming sites deal with problem gamblers.

Terry, who gained a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling in 2008, is currently a staff
member at the Center for Establishing Recovery, specializing in cases relating to mental
health issues, substance abuse, or gambling.

Q: The iGaming industry has reached unprecedented revenue values in 2021, generating
$1.66 billion, according to AGA. As more US states legalize online gambling, what are, in
your opinion, the key requirements that a gambling platform needs to have in place in order
to ensure that users play safely?

A: There must be accountability. I do not support unregulated gambling sites.

Gambling platforms must safeguard against youth gaining access to their sites, as well as, ensuring that identities are not being stolen.

Additionally, gambling platforms must ensure the safety of patrons’ money. Withdrawals should not be problematic. Gambling is risky enough, however, allowing unregulated sites to operate in the US is the biggest gamble of them all. All gambling platforms (in my opinion) should be regulated.

Q: What do you feel are the main dangers of unregulated gambling sites for US players?

A: Lack of consumer protection is the biggest threat to unregulated gambling sites.

Having the authority to police themselves is dangerous. Additionally, gamblers who use unregulated
sites may also be at risk of identity theft and/or theft of funds. Several complaints have been
lodged against unregulated gambling sites saying the sites aren’t paying and/or consumers
cannot get their deposits back. Finally, regulated sites are required to follow established
guidelines whereas unregulated sites are not. Again, unregulated sites are allowed to police
themselves.

Q: Do you feel that regulated gambling sites are currently doing enough to combat
compulsive gambling patterns? If not, what else would you like to see?

A: I believe regulated sites (like most things in life) can do more. There is always room for
improvement. I also believe that the responsibility is that of the compulsive gambler.

There is an African Proverb that says “He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured”. The ultimate protection lies in the compulsive gambler seeking help.

Q: Only 21% of Americans with a gambling addiction have recognized that it was a
problematic issue in their lives. In your experience, would you agree with this statistic?

A: No. I would not agree. If the source is reporting 21 percent of Americans as having a
gambling addiction, then I see this as the “iceberg” effect (what we’re not seeing is the real
problem).

We are only scratching the surface. My concern with this figure is that it does not take into account children who may fly under the radar.

Q: Who do you feel is more at risk of developing gambling problems? And what is the gender
and age group that more often seek your support?

A: I believe that children (12 and under) are most at risk.

Many young children are already stealing parents’ credit to purchase virtual items contained in loot boxes. Research has shown that loot box purchasing is correlated with gambling behaviors.

Little is being done to address this issue. Those who seek my services are usually males in their late 30s/early 40s.

Q: Out of Americans aged 14-21, 2.1% have problem gambling struggles, and another 6.5%
are at risk. What are the causes of gambling problems in teens? Is that an activity they
acquire mainly by their influence group or does it come from seeing family members
gambling?

A: The behavior of family members and/or peers can be very influential for young people,
however, certain video games (e.g. those with loot boxes) can be very problematic as well
(especially without adult supervision).

Additionally, unregulated gambling sites present possibly the greatest risk as many of these sites lack safeguards to prevent youth from gaining access to their sites.

Little (if anything) is done to verify the user’s identity and/or age.

Q: How can responsible gambling marketing efforts tackle such youth addictions?

A: It is highly unlikely that a 10-year old could walk into a casino in Vegas and pull up a chair at the blackjack table. Moreover, many regulated gambling sites offer checks and balances to verify a user’s identity (and age).

Therefore, educating parents on the warning signs of problem gambling among youth might be a start.

Also, utilizing youth problem gambling screening tools in schools and mental health programs may also help.

Q: Do you feel there is a difference between regular brick-and-mortar casinos and online
casinos in how they deal with problem gambling and whether one facilitates the behavior
more than the other?

A: I believe online casinos are more aggressive with their marketing. Using terms such as “Risk-free bets.”. There is no such thing as a “risk-free” bet.

Allowing people to recoup their losses (without consequences) only encourages irresponsible gambling (in my opinion). Moreover, online casinos have a heavy presence on social media.

Q: 2022 has just begun. Do you feel that due to the new year resolutions, the first months of
the year are the busiest for you in terms of having new clients wanting to change their
gambling behavior?

A: Since the inception of online gambling, there has been an increase in problem gamblers
seeking help. Thus far, most of my clients seek to either discontinue/decrease/modify their
drinking habits (New Year’s Resolution).

Now that online sports betting is legal in Michigan this very well may change.

The interview with Terry highlights the importance of high-quality regulation to ensure that
online casino games are safe, fair, and secure. Regulated sites become even more important
when it comes to protecting underage and problem gamblers.

This emphasis on regulated gambling is something we are totally committed to here at USCasinos.com. Regulation is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the industry. For more information, check out our Responsible Gambling page.

Check out also our post on the 6 largest casino companies‘ investments in 2022.


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