Recreational Gambling Requires Responsible Gambling

Losing at Gambling?

Be aware of your Gambling

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.

Changing Tide

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.

Gamesense 2Kudos 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:

Everi Provides Tools To Help Customers Play Responsibly

IGT Helps Operators Protect Players and Keep Gaming Fun

Aristocrat: Using Technology To Support Responsible Gaming

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

 

MGM Springfield Trip Report – Multiplier Day and More

MGM Springfield

It was a cold, but sunny and beautiful day for a drive – to MGM Springfield for Multiplier Day! Multiplier Days are a favorite time to gamble for those of us at NETG. As low to mid-roller recreational gamblers, we try to get the biggest bang in the quickest and most enjoyable way possible. Bert & I both had tier-matched up to Platinum at MGM Springfield.  For some players, a higher tier seems like a meaningless quest, but not us. Let me tell you why.

There are little perks to higher tiers that a low to mid roller will never experience. One of the biggest is line passes.  If you ever go to a rewards desk, a buffet or hotel check-in when its crowded, don’t anyone tell me a line pass for higher tier cards isn’t important!  Some casino rewards include multipliers for your play, and for Platinum, Bonus on Points Earned Playing Slots at M life Rewards Destinations Nationwide is 30% at the platinum. Play slots, earn 30% more points, as compared to 10% at Pearl, or none at lowest level Sapphire. Same thing for Bonus on Express Comps – points for dining, merchandise, etc., Earned at M life Rewards Destinations Nationwide. Platinum also gets free Valet parking at MGM Springfield. After the number of times we have visited using Valet Parking, I saved over $200 – half of a day’s bankroll for us.

Tier Matching is worth the effort whether in New England, Atlantic City or elsewhere. But be careful to give them some play as well.  Work with the hosts, even if you don’t have a “personal host,” and see what else a higher tier brings.  Remember, if you don’t inquire about the availability of comps, you wont get them. Ask – the worse that can happen is the politely say “no.”

Now to our Trip Report at MGM Springfield.

TAP Lunch

TAP at MGM Springfield

TAP is very spacious restaurant and bar.  They have changed the process of having to wait in line for a seat at the bar – a great thing, because instead of waiting 20 more minutes, we were able to get a seat at the bar. Unfortunately, we were met by an overworked, stressed out bartender who greeted us with and explanation on how we would have to wait due to low staffing.  How about that MGM hospitality we often here abut and at least greeting us with a “hello, how are you?” before hearing that.  We could see how hard he was working and wasn’t into stressing him out more than he was.  We were able to assure him we weren’t in a rush, which he appreciated.

The food was good – moist pulled park with fries (I had coleslaw as a substitution.) Considering how busy it was, our food arrived quickly. Within 40 minutes we were out to the casino to do battle. But first, a brief stop at the kiosks.

Kiosks

I think the Kiosk problems are getting better, although at bust times, lines can be horrendous. The kiosks are now all centralized in the area the Games Sense room on the casino floor.  Walk out the parking entrances, past TAP, and you will see them. Basically, all kiosks are consolidated to this one area. “Disney” lines are roped off. BUT (here is our recurring theme) there is a special line for Platinum & Noir – much like pass liners at the MLife Rewards Desk, and Cashier.

Suggestion – before gambling any day, but especially on multiplier days, take a screen shot of your MLife mobile app showing your account points. This can be used to compare your earnings at the end of your session.

Art in the Game

From Left to right – Mike Tyburski, Chris Marion, Binbin, and Chris Dimauro

Another reason for driving to Springfield was to meet up with Chris DiMauro, of Art In The Game – a podcast and closed Facebook group that discusses gaming at MGM Springfield and all that the City of Springfield has to offer, including economic developments as well as dining & entertainment events around downtown. Chris D. has put in a lot of time to spotlight Springfield and it’s new tenant  MGM. If visiting MGM Springfield for the first time, ask to join the Facebook group and listen to his podcast (you might find an NETG guest appearance!) We had a blast at the walk-up bar, playing video poker, getting great service from Teresa (Chris calls her the best bartender in the place) and then enjoying a meal and drinks at TAP. A fun afternoon before the gambling which was about to take place.

Promotions

Back to our point about how Tier Matching counts. Slots have a high house advantage – anywhere between 85 – 90% on penny slots. One way we are able to raise the percentage is what is worth, which bring a higher tier in consideration. This Multiplier promotion gave a higher multiplier to your earned points according to your tier. Sapphire – 2X, Pearl – 3X, Gold – 4X, and Platinum / Noir – 5X. Our six hours, a 5X multiplier adds up!

It was also Winning WINSdays – a chance at winning FREEPLAYevery 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. All guests actively playing at a slot machine is entered to win, with someone winning every 30 minutes. I’d like report how winning works, but unfortunately the names Bert or Binbin were not called.

Gambling

Inside MGM casino

Sorry table game players – not much of a report here for you.  Same news – no All Tall/All Small at craps tables ($10 minimum lowest), and 6:5 blackjack rules on $10 & $15 tables.

However, slot play was favorable – at least for one of us.  I left with $100 more than I came with, and included over 6 hours of slot play.  Not bad.  While the slot inventory is good, there seems to be an overabundance of some and a lack of other possible brands. But, overall, it has something for every slot player.

At one point, I was up enough to try Triple Triple Bonus video poker.  This game defines volatility. Two-pair = 1 credit, three-of-a-king = only 2 credits, and a straight only = 3 credits! The full house/flush ratio is 7/5.  This game is listed on VP2Free as a 96.55% game.  The big tease about TTB is the quad bonus – the payout for Four of a kind, Aces w/ 2,3,4 & Four of a kind, 2, 3 ,4 w/ Ace equals 4000 credits just like a Royal Flush.  Enticing?  Make sure you have an extensive bankroll to survive it’s volatility.

Video Poker at MGM Springfield has been my biggest gaming complaint.  At the quarter level, it’s hard to find anything over 96%.  Remember, that includes trying max bet for the Royal Flush.  Without max bet, payback is lowered 2%, that would be nothing at MGMS over 94% without max bet. VP players – be aware of your paytables. Some players play less than Max bet and play a higher denomination.  Thanks to Mike Tyburski for showing me that Bonus Poker at the dollar level is a 7/5 game – a 98% game. Without the 5 coin max, it reduces to 96%, but without the high volatility and 2:1 for two pair.

BEVERAGE SERVICE IS STILL TERRIBLE

For a second straight session, both my wife and I had terrible beverage service on the casino floor.  It hasn’t improved for me over five visits. It just seems completely understaffed. The wait-time, if you are lucky enough to order, is so long for slot players that most people have moved on to another slot. Table games are no better. One time playing Pai Gow poker, I had to ask the dealer to ask the pit boss if someone could be sent over!  Hey MGM, it’s one thing to offer free beverages – it’s another to actually serve them!

Hotel

I am still asking to get an upgrade for a suite, just so I can take pictures for all of you reading this.  It was a very busy week, with New Year’s Eve on the horizon.  The standard rooms are still pretty comfy. One little plus is that the window curtains keep the room dark for you late sleepers. Two little bottles of water are a nice touch, and the rooms are still clean and interesting.  My only complaint is that the shower doors still make me feel like I’m in a jail cell – but that’s probably just me. One additional nice touch is the motion sensitive blue light in the bathroom for those “during the night wake-ups” – just a little light provided to “get ‘er done.”

I strongly suggest you ask for the 2nd floor. The ceilings are higher in the rooms, giving a more spacious feeling, and it’s the same floor as the Coffee & Tea Room. There is only one of these, so all other floors visit the 2nd floor as well. Lines formed this Thursday morning, but its easier to watch if your a few rooms down.  And it’s next to the other casino elevator that brings you down across from the “Walk Up Bar.”

Suggestion – to remember your room # and not worry about your room key, the MLife mobile app has all your information if you are staying in the hotel. AND, it includes your room key – how cool is that.  Just call up your app, get your room key, hold it to your room door at the key spot and Voila! – your in your room.

THE DRAW

I am still enjoying MGM Springfield more than I thought.  But my best offers and gambling options still come from Connecticut. In a future post, I will tell you why I still prefer Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods. But for now, I’m surprising pleased with the overall impression of MGM Springfield.

Binbin

Remember when gambling – “Embrace the Math, Not the Myth!”

MGM – GameSense, Responsible Gambling, Every Property

 

MGM Resorts Logo

MGM Resorts

The gambling industry is consistently maligned for pushing gamblers toward addiction. The fact is that there are strategies the casino business use that influences players gambling more.  Libby Kane, in here article “9 Tricks Casinos Use To Make You Spend More Money” gives you some examples of age old ways a casino can influence your further gambling.

Remember, these chips represent real money.

 

 

We have many pleasures in this world and some do become unmanageable vices.  But, in recent years, the gaming industry has looked at ways to help their patrons stay away from addiction.

Anyone ever notice if a liquor store ever denied clientele from purchases because of suspected alcohol addiction?  Did you ever see someone notify a major cigarette manufacturer to ask that they be banned from purchasing their product?  well, how about the casino industry?

Self-banning, or self-exclusion, is a process of giving a casino permission to stop a player from entering a specific casino and has been available for years. Most compulsive gamblers and their family members believe that self-exclusion is the solution because the problem is the gambler going to the casino.” One of the problems that gamblers and their family members learn is that just because you self-ban from one casino doesn’t mean you’ve banned yourself from others.

When Massachusetts passed the he Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, particular emphasis was placed on encouraging responsible gaming and the prevention of problem gambling. The Act uniquely mandated a physical space for responsible gaming support inside all Massachusetts casinos, and directed MGC to pursue innovative and active methods and tools to meet this legislative mandate.  Plainridge Park Casino, the first Massachusetts casino in Plainville, MA, included three options to help against gambling problems:

  1. GameSenseMA.com, a website with tips and tricks to promote responsible gaming practices
  2. The GameSense Info Center at Plainridge Park Casino, staffed by GameSense Advisors from 9:00am to 1:00am every day
  3. PlayMyWay is an innovative budget-setting tool that prompts rewards card holders to voluntarily choose a daily, weekly and/or monthly budget to track their spending while at Plainridge Park Casino.

For additional coverage of Plainridge Park’s Responsible Gambling Program, check out our previous related posts “Plainridge Park Casino Officially Launches “PlayMyWay” Today!”

and

“Massachusetts Gaming Report – Keeping Track Of Its Residents Gambling Health.”

What came as a big surprise, at least to me, was when MGM recently decided to adopt the GameSense platform to all of ITS properties, due to success at the Plainridge Park property (owned by PennNationalGaming) and the Connecticut Lottery, among others using the program.

It is expected to be used in all Massachusetts casinos – Wynn Boston Harbor & MGM’s MGM Springfield.  Steve Ruddock, in his article

“MGM Adopting GameSense Responsible Gaming Program Throughout Its US Casinos” from OnlinePokerReport

said, “What MGM has likely seen is the light touch GameSense uses, as well as the positive perception of GameSense from casino patrons.”

I’ve always thought that MGM was a profit-first company, with little care for its players. But not only is bold move a plus for everyone, having so much data to use may also help Responsible Gaming Program Design in the future.  Steve continues with four important points:

  1. According to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s annual report, 87.7 percent of survey respondents said their primary concern was resolved by visiting a GameSense Info Center or speaking with a GameSense advisor.
  2. A further 82 percent of survey respondents said they would visit the GameSense Info Center again.
  3. Furthermore, the industry as a whole is becoming more in tune with responsible gaming as a policy, rather than viewing it as a handcuff.
  4. Forward-thinking companies have come to the conclusion that embracing responsible gaming policies — and in doing so attracting the right type of customer — is good for business.

When winning is important to both sides in the casino business, this move by MGM can only be seen as a “win-win.”

Bravo!  MGM!

Binbin


Steve Ruddock

 – Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.