Just before the end of last year, the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced one of our most significant initiatives to date—the creation of the AGA Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming, the first-ever comprehensive, industrywide approach to promoting responsible gaming. Each of our member companies has long taken individual steps to promote responsible gaming. Adopted by the AGA board of directors in September, the code signals the next step in our industry’s ongoing commitment to this issue.
The code’s provisions encompass every aspect of member-company business, from employee assistance and training to alcohol service, advertising and marketing. The code also details the commitment of AGA member companies to continue support for research initiatives and public awareness activities surrounding responsible gaming and underage gambling.
Rather than create a mandate for our members, the code presents a strong framework for a general national program to promote responsible gaming. It also contemplates that companies can go beyond the scope of its provisions if desired or required by state gaming laws.
Specific provisions include a commitment to train employees with regard to responsible gaming and responsible alcohol service, as well as a provision to allow patrons who have a gambling problem to self-exclude themselves from gaming activities. According to the code, this self-exclusion will include opportunities for patrons to request their removal from promotional mailing lists and to revoke privileges for casino services such as casino-issued markers, player club/card privileges and on-site check cashing.
The code is our pledge to our patrons and employees that we will make these issues an integral part of our industry’s operations across the country. Although only a few months have passed since its announcement, several companies are well on their way to implementing the code’s provisions and educating employees and patrons about the process. With the debut last month of the AGA Code of Conduct Online Resource Guide, we are making it even easier for our member companies to do just that.
While most AGA member companies already have responsible gaming programs in place, the AGA is offering its members training tools and employee education resources to support those efforts. The online resource guide, accessible through our Web site at www.americangaming.org, compiles all these offerings in a single, easy-to-use site. It is the most comprehensive guide to the development of effective industry responsible gaming programs ever assembled. Nonmembers can access the code from the Web site, but the resource guide is available only to AGA members.
The online resource guide includes the full text of the code, with hyperlinks leading users to helpful information related to implementation of each provision. Each page includes a wealth of tools, including sample materials, related research and regulatory language, as well as existing training programs, publications, tutorials and AGA programs. For example, the section of the site related to development of a self-exclusion program provides links to a sample self-exclusion form for casinos to offer patrons, as well as information about existing state regulations and statutes. The page also includes links to information on existing self-exclusion programs in Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and New Jersey.
In addition, the site includes information on related best practices developed by selected individual member companies. Finally, the guide provides a list of related AGA responsible gaming products available for purchase, including brochures, signage and videos. Many of these materials can be customized to include state-specific problem gambling help lines or other important information to help meet individual company needs.
The resource guide showcases programs the AGA and its member companies have developed to promote responsible gaming over the past several years. The intent of the code is to build on the success of these ongoing efforts. The guide includes extensive data, materials and research funded by the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG), to which the commercial casino industry and related businesses have contributed more than $13 million since its creation in 1996. To date, the NCRG has issued more than $8 million to support ground-breaking research on disordered gambling.
In addition, most AGA member companies participate in our Responsible Gaming Education Week, as well as independent programs at the state, company and property level. Detailed information on the best of these programs is included in the guide.
The code of conduct online resource guide also includes materials from the AGA Responsible Gaming Lecture Series, a program designed to provide supplemental training for casino employees, regulators, clinicians, researchers and others interested in learning more about how to address disordered gambling. The series has featured some of the leading investigators in the addictions research field. The guide also links to our Responsible Gaming Quarterly, one of the leading international resources for news and analysis of disordered gambling issues.
We plan to continuously update the online resource guide as we develop new responsible gaming materials throughout the year. One of our most anticipated projects is a planned odds brochure detailing the probabilities of winning or losing at various casino games.
I am enthusiastic about the level of commitment our members have shown in working to make the unified vision of the code a reality. There is much to be done in the coming year to refine existing responsible gaming efforts and build more successful programs, but the result of these efforts will be an integrated, industrywide initiative that is celebrated for both its diversity of approaches and singularity of purpose. I look forward to the progress to come.