DratKings has hired a new Director of Responsible Gaming and is one of the first sports betting companies to do so.

  • The Boston-based company will be one of the first to make such a hire.
  • The hire is part of a larger company-wide initiative to support responsible gaming practices.
  • With gambling addiction being a focus of national discussion, DraftKings is being proactive.

BOSTON – DraftKings, owners of one of the country’s largest online sports betting platforms, announced on Tuesday that it would be hiring Christine Thurmond as its first-ever Director of Responsible Gaming.

Thurmond is a former senior business contributor to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gaming, a nonprofit organization focused on mitigating the costs of gambling addiction and other gambling disorders.

Prior to her time on said council, Thurmond spent nearly 20 years in a leadership role at Harvard Medical School, where she was a driving force in the creation of the school’s Division on Addictions.

In a press release announcing the hire, DraftKings Director of Compliance Tim Dent said, “Our goal in hiring a Director of Responsible Gaming was to find an established expert with a deep knowledge of the issues and a track record of pushing our industry forward, and that’s [Thurmond]. We are committed to being a leader in responsible gaming and, given our foundation as a tech company, we think [she] can help DraftKings take an innovative approach to this critical issue.”

DraftKings is one of the first sports betting companies to dedicate an administrative position solely to the issue of responsible gaming. With more states set to pass legislation legalizing sports gambling in the near future, expect others to follow suit.

“We’re going to make sports betting a showcase of our industry’s commitment to responsible gaming,” said Dent later in his statement.

To many, Dent’s comments will sound performative, but DraftKings has backed its responsible gaming pledge with real initiatives like deposit limits, options for temporary self-restriction, and automated data science tools that can track and flag suspicious activity on users’ accounts.

Nationwide Gambling Addiction Concerns

Sports gambling in the United States is estimated to be an industry worth $150 billion annually, and the issue of gambling addiction has become a focal point for lawmakers in recent months.

In March 2019, government officials in Rhode Island expressed concern about combining two individually addictive elements like mobile phones and gambling.

Rep. Teresa Tanzi, who voted against a bill to legalize mobile betting in the state, said that she felt such a combination warranted caution.

In Washington State, several attempts have been made to legalize online sports betting, but state legislators have consistently denied such a measure, citing concerns about the potential addiction danger it could represent.

While gambling addiction is certainly a serious issue that warrants caution, online sports wagering might not be the boogeyman it is made out to be.

Thurmond’s former office, the Harvard Medical School Division on Addiction, published a study that found while online gambling possesses the potential to enable addictive behavior, it is not the root cause of such behavior.

Instead of focusing on online sports betting as a cause of addiction, it may prove more fruitful for legislators to ensure that bettors are provided the tools they need to combat gambling addiction in a safe, regulated environment.

By hiring such a qualified expert on the matter, this is precisely what DraftKings aims to accomplish.

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