WASHINGTON - A video based on a curriculum developed by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions focusing on probability in gambling and everyday life is the centerpiece of events taking place nationwide Aug. 6-10 during the American Gaming Association’s fourth annual Responsible Gaming Education Week. Part of the AGA’s Responsible Gaming National Education Campaign, Responsible Gaming Education Week is held every year during the first week of August to promote responsible gaming and increase awareness of disordered gambling.
“Understanding the Odds: A Key to Responsible Gaming,” explores the science of uncertainty, educational initiatives to enhance young people’s understanding of probability and encourage them to make responsible choices, responsible marketing of gaming entertainment, and superstition. Moderated by former U.S. congressman Dennis Eckart, the video features a panel of experts and industry representatives, including Stan Kaplan, Ph.D., a consultant in risk analysis and decision theory; Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., director of the Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School; Penelope Kyle, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and president of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries; and Joe Kaminkow, vice president of engineering and design at IGT. Employees from Boyd Gaming Corporation, MGM MIRAGE, Mandalay Resort Group, Park Place Entertainment Corporation and Station Casinos, Inc., also are highlighted in the video sharing their insights into customers’ understanding of the odds as well as superstitions. The video was distributed to hundreds of casino properties, state lotteries, gaming regulators, state mental health officials, problem gambling treatment providers and other interested parties.
The Harvard curriculum was funded in part by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. Part of a broader addiction science curriculum, “Facing the Odds: The Mathematics of Gambling and Other Risks” is being piloted in several school districts in Louisiana and is being considered by others nationwide.
“Educating people about probability to help them make sound decisions when they gamble or engage in any other activity that involves risk is an important message during Responsible Gaming Education Week,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., AGA president and CEO. “For four consecutive years, the AGA has spearheaded this national initiative to increase public awareness of issues surrounding problem gambling, and we are seeing first-hand the benefits of those efforts. More companies and more states than ever before are collaborating this year to sponsor programs and other activities that focus attention on responsible gaming.”
In addition to the “Understanding the Odds” video, casino properties nationwide are conducting a wide range of activities during Responsible Gaming Education Week. The following are some highlights:
- In Nevada, Boyd Gaming Corporation and MGM MIRAGE are sponsoring a panel discussion Aug. 8 focusing on various aspects of mathematics and probabilities and exploring how it can be used as part of a broader underage gambling prevention effort. Panelists will include Punam Mathur, vice president, community affairs, MGM MIRAGE; Carol O’Hare, executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling; Agustin Orci, assistant superintendent for the Clark County (Nev.) School District; and Don Snyder, president, Boyd Gaming Corporation. This is one of a series of events to be held during the week.
- All three Detroit casinos are showing the “Understanding the Odds” video in employee dining rooms Aug. 8 during a 24-hour period.
- Properties in Iowa, Missouri and other commercial casino states are displaying banners, posters and brochures; distributing buttons, stickers, newsletters, e-mail notices and paycheck stuffers; sponsoring employee contests; and conducting employee training. The AGA distributed nearly 50,000 stickers, 24,000 buttons, 50,000 educational brochures and more than 500 posters to properties to support local efforts during the week.
Some of the other activities planned in communities across the country as part of Responsible Gaming Education Week include the following:
- An Aug. 7 program in Indianapolis, Ind., will feature the “Understanding the Odds” video followed by a panel of local problem gambling experts and an interactive discussion. On the following day, the Custer Problem Gambling Treatment Center will offer an intensive look at treatment of problem and pathological gambling at its facility in Indianapolis. The two-day program is being sponsored by the Casino Association of Indiana, Hoosier Lottery, Custer Problem Gambling Treatment Center and the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling. In addition, Gov. Frank O’Bannon issued a proclamation declaring Aug. 6-10, 2001, the first annual Indiana Responsible Gaming Education Week.
- A half-day conference on pathological gambling prevention and awareness will be held Aug. 9 at the University of Chicago-Illinois. The keynote speaker will be Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., who will discuss the “Facing the Odds” curriculum featured in the video. The program is being hosted by the Illinois Coalition to Curb Problem Gambling, which includes the Illinois Casino Gaming Association; Illinois Department of Human Services; Bensinger, DuPont & Associates; Illinois Council on Problem Gambling; Outreach Foundation for Problem and Compulsive Gamblers; and the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at Proctor Hospital.
- The Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling will be conducting its third annual Missouri Responsible Gaming Education Week. This year’s main events, which will take place Aug. 6 in St. Louis and Kansas City, will focus on older adult responsible gaming programs. The Alliance will be hosting the AGA’s “Understanding the Odds” video on its Web site throughout the month of August. The Alliance is a coalition that includes the Missouri Gaming Commission, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Missouri Lottery, Missouri Riverboat Gaming Association and the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns, Inc. Gov. Bob Holden issued a state proclamation declaring Aug. 6-10, 2001, Responsible Gaming Education Week, as did mayors in each town where a casino is located.
- The Iowa Gaming Association, which represents the state’s 13 riverboat and racetrack casinos, is mounting a campaign to restore full funding to the state’s Gambling Treatment Program. Currently, some of the $3 million contributed by the state’s commercial casinos is being diverted to fund other substance abuse programs. Also, Gov. Thomas Vilsack and several mayors in communities with gaming properties have issued proclamations recognizing Aug. 6-10, 2001, as Iowa Responsible Gaming Education Week.