Last month, approximately 130 golfers gathered at Cascata in Boulder City, Nev., at the AGEM-AGA Golf Classic for a great cause. Not only was it a great day of golf, but it also demonstrated the industry’s dedication to funding the highest quality research on gambling disorders and responsible gaming through the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG).
In past articles, I’ve mentioned how corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a hallmark of the commercial gaming industry and a focus of the AGA’s efforts this year. Through the AGA’s “All In” campaign, we’re highlighting the many ways that the industry is stepping forward to treat our employees and patrons well, to care for our environment and to give back to the communities that support our business. CSR isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a business imperative.
The gaming industry’s commitment to promote responsible gaming is a key aspect of its year-round CSR initiatives – and it’s a commitment that is nothing new. In fact, the issue was one of the first topics discussed when the AGA was formed back in 1995. Each of the AGA members had been operating their own responsible gaming programs for quite some time, but we quickly realized that we could have a greater impact if we joined forces to address this issue together.
One of the most important things we ever did, I think, was creating the NCRG 16 years ago. As the AGA’s affiliated charity, the NCRG has made a significant impact in increasing the world’s understanding of gambling disorders and moving us toward better solutions not only for the industry, but for treatment providers, regulators, government health officials and others who have a stake in this issue.
Back in 1996, the field of gambling research was undeveloped and lacked a substantial number of peer-reviewed studies. From the beginning, both the industry and academic communities wanted a better understanding of gambling disorders and responsible gaming. Since its creation, NCRG-funded research has laid the foundation for our understanding of how gambling disorders can impact our employees, patrons, friends and family members.
Today, the NCRG remains the only national organization exclusively devoted to funding research that helps increase our understanding of pathological and youth gambling. Thanks to the commercial casino industry stepping up 16 years ago, the NCRG has made tremendous strides in funding groundbreaking research on gambling disorders and responsible gaming.
As the body of NCRG-funded studies has grown, we have adapted our research program to make the most impact. In 2009, the NCRG established the NCRG Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research at the University of Minnesota and Yale University to make significant, innovative advances in research through long-term, integrated studies. Since the organization’s initial round of funding, research projects that were funded by the NCRG have produced more than 200 articles published in top-tier academic journals – a large measure of success in the academic community and in our general understanding of the disorder.
Thanks to NCRG-funded research, we now know how many people struggle with gambling disorders each year. Research findings have given us a new understanding of addiction and the health risks of casino employees. NCRG-funded studies have created a model for evaluating self-exclusion programs and a framework for all community members to collaborate and address gambling disorders as a public health issue.
More recently, the NCRG has also been a pioneer in translating these research findings into practical, real-world applications for a broader audience. The NCRG has organized an annual conference for 12 years and expanded its public education programs to include successful treatment provider workshops, webinars and free online resources to address youth and college gambling, such as CollegeGambling.org.
As Responsible Gaming Education Week quickly approaches, the NCRG’s commitment to educating the industry remains strong. For this year’s awareness week, the NCRG will debut a guide for human resources managers to better understand how to assist employees who may be suffering from a gambling disorder. For gaming industry members, they also created the Partnership for Excellence in Education and Responsible Gaming (PEER) and the Executive, Management & Employee Responsible Gaming Education (EMERGE) training program to establish comprehensive responsible gaming education and training materials for gaming properties across the nation. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the dedicated support of the NCRG’s donors.
Overall, more than $22 million has been committed to the NCRG through 2013 through contributions from the casino gaming industry, equipment manufacturers, vendors, related organizations and individuals. This funding has enabled the organization to support the innovative research that has led to the key research discoveries that I just mentioned, and has allowed us to push the envelope and create public education initiatives that are wide-reaching. Additionally, the resounding success of the AGEM-AGA Golf Classic’s “Drive For $1 Million” campaign helps the NCRG fund more research and reach more stakeholders than ever before.
Now is the perfect time to renew our commitment to responsible gaming. To continue to provide the highest caliber of peer-reviewed research and education programming in the coming years, the NCRG is undertaking a new pledge campaign in 2012.
The NCRG’s long-standing donors are reaffirming their generous financial commitments for the next three years. I also encourage you to consider doing the same and supporting an organization that is making a lasting impact in this field, and in the daily lives of our employees, patrons and the general public.
With your support, together we can expand the NCRG’s efforts to raise awareness of problem gambling and responsible gaming through the top-notch, peer-reviewed research and public education initiatives that make the NCRG a leader in this field. If you are interested in learning more about the great work of the NCRG, visit www.ncrg.org. To inquire about making a contribution, contact Judy Patterson at 202-552-2675.