Gambling commission asks for presentation on online slot machines
The state Gaming Commission on Tuesday called on Plainridge Park Casino to present information about its new online games, digital slot machines that critics say are deceptive.
Commission members invited casino officials to discuss the free online games at a forthcoming meeting, and said they will also ask experts on “social gaming” to attend.
“I think everyone is well served by us starting out on what is the social gaming phenomenon and what are the range of issues,” said commission chairman Stephen P. Crosby.
While it is an open question whether the Gaming Commission has jurisdiction over social gaming, members should become knowledgeable about the topic, he said.
Players do not bet money in the online games, but can win credits that allow them to make a leaderboard and open up new levels. The games are concerning to critics of problem gambling because their large payoffs condition players to expect similar wins at the casino, where the odds of success are much lower.
In a story in the Globe last week, Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said online slot machines also raise concerns “because there is still a risk of using it compulsively.”
“It is the action of gambling that is addictive, not the prizes,” he said.
Lloyd Macdonald, a member of the Gaming Commission, said whether online gaming contributes to problem gambling is an “area of concern.”
“If we find people are being lured into casinos by being misled, that ought to be of concern to us,” Macdonald said. Plainridge executives have told him they strongly object to the notion that the online games are deceptive, he said.
Gayle Cameron, a commission member, endorsed the request for Plainridge, the state’s first casino, to make a presentation.
“We will make better decisions with timely and accurate information,” she said.
Crosby said he expects the presentation to come in May. He said representatives of Wynn Resorts and MGM Resort will also be invited to make presentations about social gaming. A Wynn spokesman said Wynn does not offer online games.