Before you get started reading, take the following quiz from the the AF of M, in Manitoba, Canada. It does deal with the knowledge of gambling games and machines, and could put aside myths and misunderstandings involved in gambling.
How did you do? Did you learn anything or did you get 10 out of 10 correct like me! (Pats self on back)
So, what do casinos do to help those with gambling problems?
The gaming industry, say researchers, has both the data and the analytics to identify problem gamblers early, but few casinos are making use of the new science.
The gambling data comes from two sources: Casino’s own loyalty programs, which record customers’ betting behavior to award points redeemable for drinks, free hotel stays and other perks; and from Internet gaming companies that capture every keystroke every time a bettor bets.
One of the key measures to help problem gamblers manage over the years has depended on the gambler to “self-exclude” themselves from the casino.
Self-exclusion is a formal agreement with a casino that it will no longer accept your bets for an agreed time. Gambling Commission figures show the number of self-exclusions has risen by 45% the last two years in some states. But self-exclusion has various degrees of success, and with the number of casinos in proximity to gamblers, problem gambling can easily just change location.
Massachusetts has blazed the path to other help in identifying problem gambling. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission from the beginning of the Massauchusetts Gaming Law was passed, has been committed to the encouragement of responsible gaming practices through GameSenseMA.com and the GameSense Info Centers.
What is Gamesense? GameSense is an innovative and comprehensive Responsible Gaming strategy adopted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission as part of its mission to encourage responsible play and mitigate problem gambling. GameSense combines recommendations on responsible gaming techniques with interactive tools and exhibits meant to engage patrons at Massachusetts casino gaming facilities.
According to Marie Kelley of World Casino News, the MCC believes the system is will be functional by April. “How do you get people to use it without feeling embarrassed?” Steve Crosby asked. “…..it has to be user-friendly. If it helps some people control their gambling, and that depresses gaming revenue, we’re totally fine with that,…..Responsible gambling is a very high priority.” It is important for the system to be created with the ease of use as many elderly patrons enjoy the slot games. If the system is too hard for them to use, there is no point in even integrating the option into the slot machines.
In the meantime, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, Krystle Kelly, stated that the council is a little disappointed in the delay but not concerned. As long as the system is ready for installation in the next few months, the council feels there is no cause for alarm. For more information on GameSense, click here.
And what are the other casinos in New England doing to help problem gamblers?
Penn National Gaming owner of Plainridge Park Casino & Hollywood Bangor Casino and its properties use a variety of approaches to promote Responsible Gaming including employee training programs, self-exclusion policies, written procedures for recognizing and managing these issues, use of outside experts, customer education and awareness, and monitoring and measuring compliance with results of these programs.
Oxford Casino offers in addition to self-exclusion, and special Maine Hotline – dialing 2-1-1 connects to immediate help.
Twin River & Newport Grand Casinos in Rhode Island include a Self-Exclusion program developed in the 1990s that allows a person to request to be excluded from a property. An individual may opt to self-exclude themselves for six months, one year or permanently. Please click the links to download one of our self-exclusion forms. You can download the forms from their websites to bring it to their Security department (open 24/7). For more information please call 401.475.8220. Other Rhode Island resources include:
GAM-ANON (For family members): 781-352-1671
In Connecticut, both casinos offer self-exclusion and offer resource help connecting to the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. Mohegan Sun offers a link to the CCPG’s Hotline on their website.
Awareness is only the first step. Let’s help other keep gambling under control. Keep it fun, enjoyable, and something to entertain. For Advantage Gamblers, monitor it often, keeping logs and watching sudden increases in bankroll limits.
Finally, be aware of the casino industry business. Casino companies are in the business to make money. They do use what they know to get us in and spend our money. But it is ultimately our responsibility to spend only what we want and can spend – an amount that neither abuses ourselves or those we love.
Be smart out there.