DraftKings Hires Its First Director of Responsible Gaming

DraftKings Hires Its First Director of Responsible Gaming

Christine Thurmond, a former senior business contributor at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, has been named the first Director of Responsible Gaming at DraftKings.

According to a DraftKings release, Thurmond will “lead the expansion of DraftKings’ already robust responsible gaming framework for its iGaming, sportsbook, and fantasy sports products.” She was not available for comment Tuesday.

Thurmond spent almost 20 years at Harvard Medical School in various leadership positions and was involved with the group that created its Division of Addiction.

“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 Chrissy,” DraftKings Chief Compliance Officer Tim Dent said in a statement. “We are committed to being a leader in responsible gaming and, given our foundation as a tech company, we think Chrissy can help DraftKings take an innovative approach to this critical issue."

DraftKings is among the first national sports betting providers to fill a position explicitly for responsible gaming. Such positions also exist, according to Keith Whyte, director of the National Council on Program Gambling, at MGM, Caesar's and William Hill. At PointsBet, for example, vice president of operations Lachlan Hood leads the effort.

Shift Toward Responsibility Permeates Industry

Responsible gaming has become one of the most prevalent initiatives in the gaming sector with sports betting currently legal in 21 states and jurisdictions and expansion likely. It was mentioned as a key pillar of the American Gaming Association’s 2020 emphasis by CEO Bill Miller in his keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo in October.

“We’re going to make sports betting a showcase of our industry’s commitment to responsible gaming,” he said there. And responsible gaming has been recognized as a key proactive measure in the United States as governmental and public backlash becomes more pervasive, by example, in the United Kingdom.

“Our history of responsible gambling in the United States is not very positive,” National Council on Problem Gambling executive director Keith Whyte told Gambling.com. “You look at state governments, there's still 20% of states that don't put any public money into problem gambling programs.

“You look at the private side and there are still major casino companies who don't have a dedicated responsible gambling person, major casino companies who don't donate to support causes like ours, who don't have employee training,” Whyte said. “There's a lot of state governments, there's a lot of state regulators that don't require responsible gaming signage or employee training. I think the safety net is not nearly as complete as it should be.

“And then when you layer, you layer on the largest and (a) fast, fast expansion of gambling in our nation's history in sports, those cracks may widen.”

Hire Pushes DraftKings Responsibility Further

DraftKings touts responsible-play initiatives including “deposit limits, voluntary restrictions on access and use of certain offerings, temporary self-exclusion and cooling-off periods, voluntary permanent exclusion from offerings and applications and data science technology, which is able to flag any suspicious or abnormal betting activity.”

The company also offers national self-exclusion and recently joined the National Council on Problem Gambling as a “Platinum Member.” It was already a member of the AGA and Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association.

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