Once each year, I pause the gambling news and hype to be sure we look at the seriousness of problem gambling. March is Problem Gambling Awareness month. It comes at a perfect time in New England in 2019 when the expansion of gambling continues at a feverish pitch. The addition of legal sports betting in Rhode Island, and probably other states in our region by the end of the year, brings more concern to those who might battle gambling additions. ,
MARCH IS PROBLEM GAMBLING AWARENESS MONTH!
Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) is a grassroots campaign that depends on the participation of NCPG state Affiliate, organizational and individual members, state health agencies, gambling companies, recovery groups and a wide range of healthcare organizations and providers.
Approximately 2 million (1%) of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling, another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered problem gamblers; yet for many, gambling remains a hidden addiction. As March Madness reaches a crescendo with an estimated $10 billion in bets placed on the NCAA basketball championship games, calls to the National Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-522-4700) spike an average of 30% during the month
In 2017, according to an info-graphic released by the NCPG, problem gambling accounted for $7 billion in the US annually due to addiction, bankruptcy, and crime. Of the estimated five million Americans who already meet the criteria for gambling addiction, three in four have problems with alcohol, 38 percent use or have used illegal drugs, and 20 percent have attempted or committed suicide.
According to the American Gambling Association, new research released shows that “with American acceptance of gaming at an all-time high, casino gamblers are actively practicing responsible gaming….. Bettors report setting budgets, sticking to them and being aware of available responsible gaming resources at significantly high rates.”
According to the research:
- 9 in 10 casual bettors set a budget before they visit a casino;
- 90 percent of those visitors report success in tracking their spending; and
- 8 in 10 casual casino visitors and 9 in 10 avid casino visitors are aware of responsible gaming resources.
Massachusetts leads the charge
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) implemented many initiatives to curb problem gambling in Massachusetts Casinos, including:
- PREVENTION: This month SEIGMA researchers will release evidence-based guidelines designed to help Massachusetts residents make informed decisions about gambling behavior. The upcoming report Low-Risk Gambling Guidelines for Massachusetts defines the point at which level of gambling engagement (i.e. frequency and expenditure) increases risk.RESEARCH: This month the MGC will select organizations to conduct Community-Driven Research. The research objective is to provide communities with the opportunity to define the issue or question relating to the introduction of casino gambling in Massachusetts. This initiative puts the community first and emphasizes collaboration between researchers.EDUCATION: MGC continues to generate awareness about its popular, responsible gaming program GameSense and is working closely with GameSense Advisors at Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield to host a series of activities for casino employees. As the eyes and ears of the casino, employees play a key role in identifying persons who may be struggling with gambling. Educating casino staff about available programs and resources has increased benefit because research identifies gaming employees as being at a greater risk of developing a gambling problem.COMMUNICATION: Throughout the month, MGC will implement a digital campaign across its multiple social media channels to promote awareness and educate the public about MGC’s voluntary self-exclusion program and the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling helpline.
COLLABORATION: Plainridge Park Casino employees will wear GameSense-branded PGAM buttons throughout the month. MGM Springfield produced a “Fact or Myth” video featuring a GameSense Advisor and the educational video will be shown to employees at multiple MGM properties.
SUPPORT: MGC supports the Cambridge Health Alliance’s ‘Gambling Disorder Screening Day’ taking place on March 12, 2019. On the same day, GameSense Advisors will offer problem gambling screening at Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield.
Kudos to MGM International for implementing GameSense at its resorts in Las Vegas and elsewhere around the country, not just in Springfield where it is required.
Gambling Companies Also Looking to Help
Everi, IGT, and Aristocrat are only a few of the gambling industry giants working with the AGA create responsible gambling. Check out these articles from the AGA’s website:
Every casino in New England has some form of help, from self-exclusion programs, live chat link on websites for immediate help, or state hotlines like Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. For more information on problem gambling, go to the National Council on Problem Gambling website. Help each other if your friends, family or children seem to be spending money they don’t have. If you have questions or concerns about your own gambling, take the 20 Question Check at Gambler’s Anonymous. Wouldn’t it be great to not have to worry?
Binbin – Embrace the Awareness of Responsible Gambling