The dynamic landscape of the gaming industry has transformed significantly over the last 10 years. 2005 marked the 10th anniversary of the American Gaming Association (AGA), and now this year marks another milestone event – the 10th anniversary of the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG).
To mark both occasions, the AGA last month released the third white paper in its 10th anniversary research series, focusing on the impact of the AGA in developing an industrywide approach to promote responsible gaming, as well as the impact of the NCRG in advancing scientific knowledge and effective treatment of disordered gambling. Rather than being written from a single point of view, “An Industrywide Response: Promoting Responsible Gaming Research, Education and Treatment,” is a compilation of interviews with key players from the gaming industry and scientific research and treatment communities who trace the AGA’s role in the development and implementation of responsible gaming practices throughout the industry’s maturation and subsequent expansion.
According to the paper, the leadership of the AGA gave the industry a single, cohesive voice on issues of responsible gaming, while a standardized approach provided direction and heft to the industry’s outreach efforts.
Promoting that approach has been a primary goal of our organization since our first board meeting in the spring of 1995. Many of our programs and initiatives have successfully increased public education and awareness of responsible gaming and problem gambling, while concurrently raising responsible business standards among our member organizations.
One of our most successful initiatives was the development and implementation of the AGA Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming. The Code has been incredibly effective and met with such enthusiasm that it has since been emulated in several other countries, most notably by the gaming industries in South Africa and South America. The paper chronicles the development of many of the AGA’s other successful responsible gaming programs to date, ranging from our annual Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW) to education tools like brochures explaining the odds of winning or losing at various casino games and how to be a more responsible gambler.
2005 marked an especially busy year for responsible gaming programs at the AGA, and many of the programs introduced last year will carry us into our next decade. Our eighth annual RGEW featured the debut of the “Banding Together to Keep it Fun,” campaign and introduced our bright orange “Keep it Fun” awareness wristbands. To date, the sale of the $1 bands has raised more than $50,000 for the NCRG.
Also launched during RGEW 2005 was our first television public service announcement (PSA) focusing on responsible gaming. The 30-second spot aired nationally on networks in viewing areas of our member casinos, on in-room programming in many casino hotels, and continues to run on The Travel Channel in conjunction with all its gaming-related programming. Print PSAs featuring the same characters debuted last month.
Last year also marked the first annual contribution to the NCRG by Global Gaming Expo (G2E), which from now on will make an annual gift to the NCRG comprised of contributions from G2E exhibitors and attendees. The 2005 gift totaled nearly $90,000. Along with proceeds from the wristband sales and the 17th annual Gaming Hall of Fame Charity Dinner and Induction Ceremony, AGA programs raised more than $288,000 for the NCRG in the second half of 2005. Since 1996, gaming companies and related organizations have contributed more than $15 million to the organization.
The 10th anniversary of the NCRG marks a major transition for the organization. Before the organization was created in 1996, the field of gambling research was largely undeveloped, marked by inconsistencies and a lack of peer-reviewed studies. The NCRG changed all that, providing the first consistent and substantial funding source for research on disordered gambling based on rigorous scientific standards. In 2000, the NCRG awarded a multi-million dollar contract to Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions to create the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, and transferred all grant-making and scientific functions of the NCRG to that organization.
Around that time, the NCRG determined to expand its mission to include outreach and public education on the disorder, and this year will see the complete integration of this expanded approach. The NCRG will now partner with AGA member companies and their properties, both at the national and local levels, to create, facilitate and coordinate practical, science-based responsible gaming efforts. NCRG will provide the seed money, expertise and coordinating capabilities needed to make industry initiatives as effective as possible.
Of course, the organization will remain committed to providing financial support to the Institute, funding scientific research in the field of pathological gaming and disseminating and encouraging discussion of that research, and sponsoring educational events like the annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction.
Other goals include increasing the public’s awareness of responsible gaming and serving as a resource and repository of responsible gaming educational materials for the media and the general public.
The AGA and NCRG always have shared similar goals, and this new relationship will only serve to further enhance the missions of both organizations. As the AGA enters its second decade, our commitment to encouraging responsible gaming remains constant, and we look forward to working closely with the NCRG as we work to take our responsible gaming efforts to the next level.