Since the American Gaming Association (AGA) was formed in 1995, responsible gaming has been one of our top priorities. We have spearheaded the Responsible Gaming National Education Campaign to educate casino employees and the public about problem and underage gambling and to emphasize the importance of responsible gaming practices. We have offered training programs and seminars. And, in 1996, we created the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), an independent organization that would fund the peer-reviewed research so important and necessary to this field of study.
But a decade earlier, just as pathological gambling was officially classified as a mental health disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, one man realized this field demanded attention. As an executive with Golden Nugget, Inc. (now part of MGM MIRAGE), Shannon Bybee attended a 1985 meeting of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), beginning a journey that would lead him to become a driving force behind some of the most significant accomplishments in responsible gaming.
His journey began soon after that 1985 meeting, at which he learned what the rest of his colleagues would soon discover: the gaming industry needed to undertake demonstratively effective measures to combat problem gambling in the community. In 1991, he was named to the NCPG’s board of directors - the first to represent the casino industry. In 1995, he was selected to be the first president of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and was instrumental in igniting the first discussions of problem gambling regulations in Nevada. Currently, Bybee is director of the UNLV International Gaming Institute and a professor at the UNLV Hotel College and Boyd School of Law, where he has worked to incorporate responsible gaming into the curriculum.
Today, after more than 20 years of experience in gaming law, operations, regulation, and education, Shannon Bybee has been chosen by the AGA board of directors to receive the Special Achievement Award for Responsible Gaming at this year’s AGA Awards Dinner Honoring America’s Gaming Greats, held as part of Global Gaming Expo (G2E). This occasion marks the first time an individual has received the award and highlights the impact that one person can have on the campaign for responsible gaming awareness and education.
Bybee’s primary focus has consistently been to educate patrons and employees about the behaviors associated with problem gaming, believing firmly that you can’t help yourself if you don’t know you have a problem. He also emphasizes the need for continuing research on disordered gambling so there is greater understanding of the issues and causalities, leading to more effective treatment. With the experience and insights of Shannon Bybee, the casino industry has been able to lead the way on responsible gaming initiatives and is well prepared to tackle the challenges yet to come.
Since 2000, we have taken the opportunity to honor significant contributions to responsible gaming like those made by Bybee. The Special Achievement Award for Responsible Gaming has been presented annually in recognition of efforts to create awareness and to fund research in this field. In its inaugural year, the award was presented to Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., at World Gaming Congress & Expo. As an industry pioneer, Harrah’s created the first program devoted to addressing problem gambling nearly a decade ago. Last year, at the first-ever Global Gaming Expo (G2E), we recognized the significant financial support of Boyd Gaming Corporation and Park Place Entertainment Corporation for their generous financial contributions that enabled the formation of NCRG and the continued study and treatment of disordered gambling.
If you’re in Las Vegas for G2E, we hope you will join us in celebrating Shannon Bybee’s achievements in the area of responsible gaming. For more information on the 2002 AGA Awards Dinner Honoring America’s Gaming Greats, stop by AGA booth # 2659 or the AGA office in room N-249 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.