Lori Kalani exclusive: Promoting responsible gaming in the industry

June 10, 2024
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Gaming America speaks to DraftKings' recently appointed Chief Responsible Gaming Officer about the newly formed role and the importance of responsible gaming to the operator.

You are the first Chief Responsible Gaming Officer DraftKings has hired; can you give us an overview of what your role will entail?  

I may be the company’s first Chief Responsible Gaming Officer, but the work the DraftKings team has been undertaking around responsible gaming is not new – it’s been a company-wide priority for years. In my role as CRGO, I will first and foremost oversee the work that is ongoing across the company and drive our responsible gaming strategy. Critical to that will be engaging in a continuous dialogue with others so that our significant work around responsible gaming is more widely known across not only the industry, but also known to other stakeholders – government, media, vendors, leagues and academia/support organizations.

I look forward to those conversations being a two-way street. Having a solid understanding of what others are thinking and doing will allow me to think strategically about how we can be better as a company and better as an industry. I learned through my years in-house at DISH Network and then in private practice representing some of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies, that no one has a monopoly on good ideas. So whether it is translating what we learn into DraftKings’ strategy for further enhancing player safety and protection initiatives across all platforms and player communities, or convening stakeholders to collectively affect change for the better, I will be there.

Are there any specific cases you can provide?

Again, the great work the DraftKings team has been doing as part of the company’s commitment to responsible gaming is nothing new. A few examples include its role as a founding member of the Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA), an organization formed to align and coordinate the industry’s efforts to help educate and accelerate best practices for player safety and problem gaming. Another is the launch of My Stat Sheet. This new resource is a way for DraftKings’ players to track and interact with their usage statistics across all DraftKings apps. This information will allow customers to gain a better understanding of their gaming habits and identify trends. 

DraftKings also recently expanded its program with Kindbridge Behavioral Health to every jurisdiction where DraftKings operates its online sportsbook and iGaming products. All of these recent innovative efforts build on DraftKings’ already established, well-experienced Player Protection team, which has scaled alongside our business to continuously support our efforts around our customers’ safety and responsible play. I look forward to working closely with ROGA, as well as our Player Protection team, as we pave the way for innovation, research and action around responsible gaming. 

How important will your role be given the continuous rise of sports betting in the US?  

Responsible gaming has been a DraftKings priority, and as sports betting’s reach expands, the company has continued to adopt and utilize advanced technology to create a safe experience for players. I will continue to elevate DraftKings’ responsible gaming strategy with a multi-pronged approach: providing our customers with access to education, tools, and resources to help them manage their play responsibly; leveraging advanced technology to detect signs of risky behaviors and taking appropriate steps to intervene when necessary; and learning from all the stakeholders in this rapidly evolving area.  

That last prong is probably most relevant to this question, as the evolution of sports betting in the US in recent years has challenged all of us – industry, regulators and policymakers, vendors, the media, the sports leagues and academia – to become more sophisticated in the way we think about issues like responsible gaming. That’s not something we can do in a vacuum, and it’s going to take all of us working together to find the best ways forward. 

How will your previous experience in consumer protection law help you within this role?  

Consumer protection law and responsible gaming initiatives share the same goal: to inform and educate consumers of our services so they can make responsible decisions and enjoy the very best experience we can offer. That’s true in the case of a company that is offering great gaming and entertainment like we do or is selling phones or insurance or rideshares or credit cards.  

I have been living and breathing consumer protection for my entire career – it is a passion for me because one, it is the right thing to do, but also, I believe the companies that promote consumer protections outlive the companies that don’t. I started out working for two of the largest banks in the country in their customer service organizations. As an attorney, I devoted my practice to working with clients to help them understand and comply with the consumer protection laws across all 50 states, while also educating regulators on my clients’ business practices and their efforts to protect their consumers. To do that successfully, I had to understand where regulators and policymakers were coming from, what their concerns were and ensure that what regulators were proposing as solutions really made sense for consumers. It’s a process of learning and dialogue, and sometimes also involves negotiating and adapting to changes in industry, technology and regulatory viewpoints. 

Professionally, I have worked with gaming companies for many years. Personally, I also have a long history with gaming, starting with my growing up in Las Vegas and having parents that struggled with gambling addiction. I experienced firsthand how complex the issue of gambling addiction can be. All those experiences provide me with a unique perspective on the importance of educating our customers on what it means to play responsibly. As we say at DraftKings, It’s more fun when it’s for fun. 

You have previously worked within gaming, including engaging with regulators. Could you tell us more about that?  

Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to work across several burgeoning industries, including gaming. This has allowed me to develop relationships with regulators and key industry stakeholders, but perhaps more importantly to have deep, direct experience with what it is like to help guide a company in a rapidly changing industry through the legal, regulatory, and business challenges and opportunities.  

Perhaps the key thing I learned is that regulators and policymakers often are trying to figure things out at the same time as the industry they are overseeing, while also juggling competing priorities, interests and demands on their time. For the most part, they welcome dialog and input, and even if they disagree, the act of engagement shows them that a company takes them and their concerns seriously. That can be of tremendous benefit as an industry evolves and matures, and that’s especially true in the gaming industry because DraftKings and its regulators share the same goal of ensuring players are fully informed so they can have a safe and fun experience. We want to be helpful, and my prior experience will be directly on point as we continue to work alongside industry stakeholders. 

DraftKings has recently done a lot of work within its responsible gaming practices, including launching “My Stat Sheet.” Could you tell us what your plans are for the company going forward?  

DraftKings has taken a multi-faceted approach to develop responsible gaming tools and resources. Just a few examples of these are a redesigned Responsible Gaming Center, My Stat Sheet, deposit limits and cool-offs. Moving forward, we will continue to utilize technology, employee training, research, key collaborations and comprehensive player education programs all to promote responsible play and a healthy gaming environment for all customers. And as I mentioned, a key part of this is to engage and listen to others who are looking at the same issues, whether that’s regulators and policymakers, others in the industry and vendors, the media, the leagues and academia/support organizations. We all share a common goal of keeping people safe and I’m honored to be DraftKings’ point person in directing the company’s efforts toward that end. 

What influence do you think your role will have on the wider industry?                   

DraftKings is an industry leader in developing and promoting responsible gaming practices and my role as CRGO is going to ensure that we are communicating what we are doing with stakeholders across the industry. I also plan to engage with regulators to make sure the good work that legal operators like DraftKings are doing around responsible gaming isn’t undercut by illegal operators and their disregard for responsible gaming. Over the last five years, dozens of states have legalized some form of online gaming, evidence that lawmakers in those states recognize all the benefits a legal regulated market brings to them, their constituents and their communities. I hope to have an impact on working to ensure that all of those efforts to establish a safe regulated market for legalized gambling isn’t diminished by some bad actors. 

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