The American Gaming Association's (AGA) ninth annual Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW), held during the week of August 7-11, 2006, was a resounding success, as more than 100 gaming companies and casinos participated throughout the country. Casino employees, patrons and the public joined together to "Be Responsible. Get Educated." in celebration of the popular public awareness campaign.
To help companies promote the week, the AGA distributed a wide range of materials to reinforce the importance of responsible gaming training and education. Among the items were new responsible gaming activity workbooks filled with activities, word games and quizzes encouraging industry employees to refresh their knowledge of responsible gaming. The activity workbooks also contained a sneak peek at the EMERGE (Executive, Management and Employee Responsible Gaming Education) program, a Web-based training program developed by addictions specialists at Harvard Medical School. Set to launch later this year, EMERGE explores the science behind gambling addiction and emphasizes the importance of responsible gaming for employees. More than 20,000 workbooks were distributed to employees throughout the industry.
"The AGA and its members provide a wide range of resources and tools for gaming companies to increase their responsible gaming knowledge," said Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the AGA. "The success of RGEW can be attributed to the enthusiasm of the employees and organizations nationwide that capitalize on the opportunity to advance awareness of important issues such as compulsive and underage gambling."
The trendy orange "Keep it Fun" wristbands, introduced as the centerpiece of the "We're Banding Together to Keep it Fun" campaign during last year's RGEW, once again were a featured part of this year's event. Available in both English and Spanish, more than 140,000 wristbands were sold in conjunction with RGEW 2006. As occurred last year, proceeds from the wristbands, which sold for $1, will support the National Center for Responsible Gaming, the only organization exclusively devoted to public education about and funding of peer-reviewed research on disordered gambling.
The AGA also featured an updated online responsible gaming quiz on its Web site throughout RGEW, providing a fun way to test responsible gaming knowledge in both English and Spanish. The responsible gaming section of the AGA site received more than 2,400 visits throughout the week. Additionally, the AGA distributed more than 40,000 responsible gaming brochures, 46,000 campaign lapel stickers, 15,000 campaign buttons and thousands of pieces of other collateral materials to casinos and gaming companies across the country.
All of the AGA's responsible gaming educational and promotional materials were available in both English and Spanish.
Individual casinos, companies and communities across America, and even as far away as the U.S. Virgin Islands, put their own creative spin on the national education campaign. Some examples include:
Ameristar Casinos in Kansas City and St. Louis distributed "Keep it Fun" wristbands to all their employees, facilitated citywide proclamations to formally recognize the week, displayed RGEW bulletin boards in their employee areas, and even featured an on-hold message referencing the company's support
Casino Aztar in Caruthersville, Missouri held manager and supervisor training sessions and aired a public service announcement on television stations both locally and in-house. Isle of Capri Kansas City featured a different theme each day of the week and celebrated with fun give-aways, daily training courses focused on underage and compulsive gambling. Boyd Gaming properties provided informal refresher training on responsible gaming and held employee contests focused on responsible gaming-related topics.
Harrah's casinos in north Kansas City and St. Louis displayed a number of materials both front- and back-of-house, aired responsible gaming PSAs throughout the week and provided responsible gaming refresher training for all employees, among other activities.
MGM MIRAGE's Bellagio sold "Keep it Fun" wristbands in its retail areas and ran banner and video monitor announcements about RGEW in its employee areas. Other MGM MIRAGE properties set up special booths in employee dining areas to distribute educational materials and ran a raffle for employees who participated in a responsible gaming quiz.
For each day of the week, Station Casinos employees learned about a different responsible gaming-related topic during team meetings. Station properties also posted the message "Keep it Fun: Please Gamble Responsibly" on the large electronic signs in front of their properties. "Our industry demonstrates a strong commitment to responsible gaming throughout the year and especially during RGEW," Fahrenkopf said. "We are extremely proud of the consistent industrywide support that we receive, and we look forward to further promoting responsible gaming education in new and innovative ways for years to come."