WASHINGTON—The American Gaming Association (AGA), National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) and more than 100 casino and gaming companies across the country are mobilizing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the annual Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW), which begins today. The theme of this year’s week, Responsible Gaming: In Your Own Words, focuses on how every member of the community has a role to play in promoting responsible gaming throughout the year.
A kick-off event on the casino floor at Caesars Atlantic City marked the official start of the week. Participants included Gary Loveman, chairman, president and CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., and chairman of the AGA; Linda Kassekert, chairwoman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission; Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the AGA; and Kevin Mullally, general counsel and director of government affairs for Gaming Laboratories International and a member of the NCRG board of directors. Community leaders, property presidents and gaming employees from each of the city’s casinos also were on hand to showcase Atlantic City’s commitment to responsible gaming.
“It’s encouraging to see such a broad representation from the community here today because responsible gaming really is a communitywide issue,” Fahrenkopf said. “The activities of this week are an important part of the work being done throughout the year by the gaming entertainment industry to educate employees, patrons and the community at large about the issues of problem gambling and responsible gaming.”
Atlantic City Mayor Robert W. Levy, Sr. and New Jersey State Senator James "Sonny" McCullough were on hand to unveil the winning entries in the AGA’s nationwide employee responsible gaming poster and essay contest, held earlier this year to commemorate the 10th anniversary of RGEW. The winning poster design, created by Vicki Madsen, director of regulatory compliance at Cactus Pete’s Resort Casino in Jackpot, Nev., is featured on posters and other collateral materials being used to promote RGEW in casinos across the country. The other three winning posters will be released throughout the year as part of an ongoing Responsible Gaming Education Poster Series.
The 15 winning employee essays are featured in a new publication from the NCRG titled In Their Own Words: Voices of Responsible Gaming that is being distributed nationally in conjunction with RGEW. The book also includes essays on responsible gaming from leading gaming executives, regulators, treatment providers, researchers and others. Loveman and Kassekert both contributed essays to the book.
“I know that every gaming executive in our industry takes this issue as seriously as I do,” Loveman said. “We want everyone who visits our casinos to be there for the right reason – to simply have fun. We don’t want people who don’t gamble responsibly to play in our casinos, period. In that spirit, I pledge that we as an industry will continue working with all of you, community leaders, health care professionals and elected officials, to bolster our united efforts to reach our goals in this arena.”
In conjunction with the coordinated nationwide activities occurring during RGEW 2007, individual casinos and gaming companies are incorporating additional creative ways to provide education and training and increase awareness about responsible gaming, including:
- Harrah’s Hotel & Casino Laughlin in Laughlin, Nev. will have “mystery shoppers” asking team members questions about responsible gaming and if the team member answers correctly, they receive a $5 responsible gaming coupon.
- At MGM MIRAGE’s ten Las Vegas strip properties, as well as its other properties throughout Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan, more than 50,000 “Keep It Fun” wristbands will be distributed to employees, and each property is also featuring RGEW contests, quizzes and newsletter articles for employees.
- The Illinois Casino Gaming Association and its members are sponsoring a free training seminar for community leaders, counselors, social workers and mental health professionals on the topic of problem gambling by teens and seniors.
- Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey set up table games and slots in employee areas to educate employees about the games, why and how one can lose and how one can be addicted to playing them. The property’s Employee Assistance Program will also be distributing brochures about responsible gaming and where to find treatment for disordered gambling.
- Station Casinos properties will incorporate responsible gaming tips and messages into pre-shift meetings and huddles, with a different tip each day during Responsible Gaming Education Week.
- The Isle Casino and Hotel at Waterloo in Waterloo, Iowa has invited a gambling addiction counselor to speak to all team members about problem gambling and provide team members with additional information about the warning signs and affects of problem gambling.
Additionally, gaming employees across the country once again will sport bright orange “Keep it Fun” awareness wristbands during RGEW. Nearly 90,000 of the $1 wristbands were sold in preparation for the week, with proceeds supporting the NCRG. Since the debut of the wristbands in 2005, the program has netted more than $150,000 to fund research and education on disordered gambling.
The AGA has developed a number of additional materials to enhance the responsible gaming training efforts of individual companies and help them to promote the 10th anniversary of RGEW among their employees and patrons. All of the AGA’s responsible gaming educational and promotional materials are available in both English and Spanish.
Responsible Gaming Education Week runs from Aug. 6-10, 2007. The annual event was developed in 1998 as part of the Responsible Gaming National Education Campaign, a long-term, comprehensive program spearheaded by the AGA. RGEW is designed to heighten awareness of responsible gaming and disordered gambling among employees, patrons and the general public.
The AGA represents the commercial casino-entertainment industry by addressing federal legislative and regulatory issues. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.
The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is the only national organization exclusively devoted to funding research that helps increase understanding of pathological and youth gambling and find effective methods of treatment for the disorder. Founded in 1996 as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, the NCRG’s mission is to help individuals and families affected by gambling disorders by supporting the finest peer-reviewed, scientific research into pathological and youth gambling; encouraging the application of new research findings to improve prevention, diagnostic, intervention and treatment strategies; and advancing public education about responsible gaming. The NCRG is the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) affiliated charity. For more information, visit www.ncrg.org.