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Casino industry takes month to think about responsible gaming

Updated September 11, 2022 - 11:00 am

Gambling has expanded rapidly across the U.S. over the past few years, especially with the legalization of sports betting in many states.

The American Gaming Association believes that a growth in gaming brings a need for a growth in responsible gaming efforts. That’s why the organization is promoting the first Responsible Gaming Education Month this September, expanded from its usual week.

Cait DeBaun, AGA’s vice president of strategic communications and responsibility, said operators know that responsible gaming is essential to the industry’s future.

“Responsible gaming as a principle is how we protect our players and our business and build a sustainable marketplace that keeps betting fun and a form of entertainment for adults,” she said.

For Responsible Gaming Education Month, the AGA has compiled an industry toolkit that can be used by operators, suppliers, sports leagues and others to talk about best practices on different topics.

Many of those involved in the industry then share those messages with employees internally and on social media. For example, the PGA Tour posted a responsible gaming public service announcement on Twitter, and DraftKings sportsbook produced PSAs with skateboarder Tony Hawk and professional wrestler The Miz.

Messages often revolve around setting limits and staying within a budget.

Ted Hartwell, who handles community engagement for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, said he supports any expansion of casino efforts to help patrons avoid falling into a gambling problem.

“I hope that the focus of most properties is on the preventative aspect and to keep people who are already gambling in that healthy realm of gambling,” he said.

The Council on Problem Gambling stays neutral on gambling expansion efforts, and that allows the organization to maintain good relationships with the operators and help serve customers who might be struggling, Hartwell said.

The organization’s helpline number is posted in casino literature, linking people who want help with problem gambling counselors. (A new number, 1-800-GAMBLER, has recently gone into effect, Hartwell said.)

Hartwell said Nevada used to be an industry leader in responsible gaming, but other states have surpassed it in recent years, especially in allowing patrons to self-exclude themselves and force casinos to trespass them or lock them out of electronic gambling accounts.

Hartwell praised some Nevada operators for going above and beyond, citing MGM Resorts International’s GameSense education program and Caesars Entertainment’s responsible gaming ambassadors, who are trained to respond if they hear patrons making distressing comments about their gambling.

Garrett Farnes, director of responsible gaming for MGM Resorts, said in a statement: “Training is a priority. Our employees serve as the front line for the company’s responsible gaming efforts, and we want them to be equipped with the skills needed to ensure guests are informed, confident and in control of their play.”

DeBaun and Hartwell said improved technology should help responsible gaming efforts, as operators can more easily track customers’ habits and allow them to easily set up deposit limits or a cooling-off period.

“We have more insight into player behavior, and so we’re able to use that information to interact and intervene where we need to,” DeBaun said.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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