For those of you who, like me, follow the US sports betting and casino regulatory developments, you might have come across Debra Jobes. Debra is Gaming Division Lead at Regology where she builds custom law libraries for clients in the gaming space. This means she has to always stay on top of regulatory changes and publish material on the latest updates in these industries.
I connected with Debra to ask her a few quick questions about her work in gambling regulation and to get her thoughts on the opportunities she sees for the industry in general, and for women who are interested in following her path.
Tell me about your role at Regology, especially as it pertains to the sports betting markets in the US. What does it mean to be a Digital Law Librarian?
Debra. Regology is a regulatory and compliance platform that is transforming the way compliance professionals track and monitor the ever-changing landscape of gaming laws. My role as the Gaming Industry Lead and Law Librarian is within the Legal Research Department of Regology.
Part of my job responsibility is curating gaming industry laws and regulations from the thousands of primary sources that feed into our database every day. These laws are identified, tagged, and maintained within an extensive digital ‘Smart Library’ that covers every type of gambling-related activity, including sports betting.
There are also many topical libraries that are important to sports betting operators, such as advertising, licensing, patron wagering account rules, player rule requirements, and responsible gaming. Another important part of my job responsibility is tracking legislation, monitoring agency feeds, and reviewing regulatory changes within the system to ensure the system is working properly.
To answer your question about what it means to be a Digital Law Librarian, I will start with the definition as it pertains to a traditional library. When you go to your local library, a Digital Librarian would be responsible for organizing and preserving a digital collection of images, books, magazines, audio recordings, and video recordings so that it’s accessible to the public.
However, the use case for Regology is different because the digital information enters a database and the system identifies and sorts it according to metadata (information about jurisdiction, title, chapter, section). It is my job responsibility to add additional metadata to correctly identify the gaming activity and topics associated with the information to create a library accessible to each customer.
What was your path to the gaming industry? Most of us seem to stumble upon opportunities in this space – how did you end up working with gambling and betting regulation?
Debra. As you’ve pointed out, I stumbled upon the exciting and changing dynamics of the gaming industry by accident and opportunity. Shortly before the pandemic, I was deeply embedded in my former career as an elementary school teacher and increasingly bored and frustrated with the direction of education. This experience led me to change careers by obtaining a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science with a Database Certification.
Prior to teaching, I worked as a legal assistant in a law firm and a large corporate legal department, so I naturally gravitated towards becoming a Law Librarian. I worked as a contractor in several law libraries while I was obtaining my graduate degree and had the opportunity to intern as a Metadata Librarian. When I graduated, I was lucky enough to land a job at Regology as a Digital Law Librarian. When I came on board Regology, our team began working with a large sports betting operator, and I was assigned the responsibility of researching and curating their law library.
My role and job responsibilities have grown and expanded with time as I became more familiar with the laws that are important to the gaming industry across many jurisdictions. For the last two years, I’ve been developing the gaming library into an extensive global collection of laws.
What are the biggest challenges in the US casino and betting markets today?
Debra. I believe the biggest challenge to US casinos and betting markets is the ever-changing task of identifying and maintaining compliance within many different jurisdictions.
Using manual spreadsheets to track laws has become an overwhelming task, and compliance professionals need better solutions that are powered by artificial intelligence for more automation. Being able to communicate among many different departments within an organization, identifying risks and controls, and updating them every step of the way is an enormous challenge. A sports betting operator or affiliate can easily expose themselves to penalties and sanctions if their compliance program isn’t on top of every market and the laws within each jurisdiction.
Some of the other challenges to the US casino and betting markets that I’m passionate about are social issues involving children and families. For example, I’ve been disturbed by the reports of unattended children in parking lots of casinos while their parents are inside gambling. While gambling can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity for some people, it becomes an addiction problem for others. This behavior not only puts the children at risk but also undermines the family and exposes the parent to intervention by Child Protective Services. Some state agencies, such as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, have worked in conjunction with casino operators to minimize this happening through training employees, using surveillance equipment to identify problems, and having local law enforcement stationed on the property. These parents may be banned from casinos by being placed on an involuntary exclusion list, and even face criminal charges.
How do you think AI will be used to make progress within gaming in the coming years?
Debra. A big component of gaming compliance is access to the right information. Regology is not only better able than ever before to produce that information using AI, but we can also provide it in a more insightful manner to our customers. On the other hand, there is a lot of activity as legislators and regulators are figuring out how to address the opportunities and challenges of AI. All this activity will increase even more in the coming year, especially once all state legislators are back in session. This puts another burden on the industry that compliance teams must face and respond to new or changing laws.
AI has immense potential in gaming compliance: It can automate processes, summarize regulatory content, provide predictive analytics, monitor events in real time, and much more. As the gaming industry continues to grow, there’s a strong need to protect players, ensure that platforms are compliant with local regulations, and provide game integrity. AI can help with a range of things, from anti-fraud measures to predicting potential non-compliance issues before they become a problem.
As a woman in a leadership role, how do you approach mentoring and fostering the professional advancement of other women in the industry?
Debra. In every industry there are the same players, whether male or female, that try to get ahead by using manipulation tactics, micromanaging, and tearing other people down by belittling or using sarcasm. I’ve worked under many types of administrators or managers in the past and had the opportunity to observe their behaviors. The people that I consider effective leaders have the same traits in common, and I try to practice these skills when mentoring or fostering the professional advancement of other women.
Ability to listen: When a co-worker presents you with a problem, do you really listen to what they are saying or not saying? Or, do you try to solve their problem before they’ve finished speaking? A leader will let the other person speak without interrupting and help the person solve the problem for themselves. ‘Getting to the heart of the matter’ will help someone see the real problem and resolution faster than solving it for them. The questions you should be asking yourself, silently in your head, while the other person is speaking are:
- Is there a misunderstanding or communication issue?
- Do they need more information, instructions, or background knowledge?
- Do they have appropriate training to respond to the problem?
Paying Attention: Noticing body language or facial expressions can help you determine if someone is having a problem before they say anything. Most people have consistent patterns of behavior that can be easily observed if you take the time to pay attention. When body language changes, take note and tactfully ask them about it later.
Taking an Interest: Taking the time to say, “Happy Birthday!” or “How was your weekend?” goes a long way with some people and encourages open conversation. If you make an effort to get to know someone personally, it creates a path to being a positive influence in their life.
What words of encouragement or advice would you offer to women who aspire to build a career in legal research within the gaming and sports betting sectors?
Debra. I’ve totally immersed myself into the gaming industry for the past two years by following news reports; participating in webinars, discussions, and interviews; and joining professional organizations in order to educate myself on important topics and trends. I’ve enjoyed networking with compliance professionals, attending conferences, and getting to know many leaders in the gambling industry. This self-immersion has allowed me to become an asset to the Regology team by participating in all aspects of the business. As a result, I’ve been able to be part of customer or service calls, publishing regulatory newsletters, and consulting with marketing on important projects.
My philosophy is, if you’re going to do something, then jump in with both feet and become a positive influence on your business workplace environment!
What do women want in sports betting?
Debra. I believe that women want to participate in sports betting as a way to network and have fun with friends, colleagues, or even strangers on the internet. Sports betting through a reputable sportsbook can be exciting when you have a group of women who have a common interest. Having a website like BettingLadies.com can be a way for women to share advice, betting tips, and discuss the latest sports events.
- Adults banned from Pennsylvania casinos after children left unattended. (2023, July 27). ABC27. Retrieved September 12, 2023, from. https://www.abc27.com/pennsylvania/adults-banned-from-pennsylvania-casinos-after-children-left-unattended/#:~:text=Adults%20are%20prohibited%20from%20leaving ↩︎
- Keep kids at home: Presque Isle, other casinos combatting problem of unattended children. (2023, May 26). Erie Times-News. Retrieved September 12, 2023, from https://www.goerie.com/story/news/local/2023/05/26/presque-isle-other-casinos-combat-problem-of-children-left-unattended/70255822007/ ↩︎