LAS VEGAS—Hundreds of casino employees, treatment providers, regulators, state health experts and lottery officials gathered today at more than 15 sites nationwide to watch a live satellite broadcast and Webcast on responsible gaming and problem gambling. The program kicked off the American Gaming Association’s third annual Responsible Gaming Education Week (Aug. 7-11, 2000).
Audiences in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and New Jersey watched “Responsible Gaming: Keeping It Fun,” which examined the differences between responsible gaming and problem gambling, discussed the impact of problem gambling on gaming employees, and looked at what the industry has been doing to address the issue. Site participants also asked questions of the expert panel, which featured Dr. Howard Shaffer of Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addictions, Carol O’Hare of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling and Punam Mathur of MGM MIRAGE. Veteran journalist Sander Vanocur served as moderator.
“The hundreds of thousands of employees in the gaming industry take great pride in knowing that what we provide offers entertainment and fun for millions of Americans,” Mathur said. “But we also know that there a few that have a problem, and so this week allows us the opportunity to put additional emphasis on issues that we deal with every day so they understand the impact of problem gambling and how to get help.”
Added O’Hare: “For individuals who might have a gambling problem, the first and most important step is for them to understand what that is and to know where to get help. By educating employees and educating the public, we’re providing the information they’re going to need when they decide to reach out and get that help.”
The program, which was held before a studio audience of casino employees at KLVX-TV Channel 10 (PBS), was broadcast live by Las Vegas 1, the city’s 24-hour news channel. Others watching the broadcast live included the Missouri Alliance to Curb Problem Gambling in Kansas City and St. Louis; employees, regulators and treatment providers in Atlantic City, N.J., who watched the broadcast from the Showboat Hotel Casino; the Missouri Lottery in Jefferson City, Mo.; and regulators, state government officials, treatment providers and industry representatives at the state capitol in Baton Rouge, La.
Videotapes of the program also were sent to more than 125 AGA member company properties across the country, along with regulators and state problem gambling councils, for viewing during and after the week.
Responsible Gaming Education Week is held each year by the AGA as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness of problem gambling and to stress the importance of educating casino employees about responsible gaming.
“Gaming industry employees provide the first line of defense against disordered gambling and gambling-related problems, so it’s very important for them to get as much education as possible so they can be helpful to their customers,” Shaffer said.
Throughout the week, employees and other interested parties will have the opportunity to ask questions of this panel of experts via a discussion forum bulletin board on the AGA Web site. Other activities are being planned by individual casino properties across the country to mark Responsible Gaming Education Week.
Video cassettes of the broadcast also can be purchased from the AGA by faxing the order form on our Web site to 202-637-6507.
“When the AGA was formed five years ago, one of our missions was to address problem gambling in the ways scientific experts told us would be most effective,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., AGA president and CEO. “Education is one of the things they’ve recommended, and this program is just another step in helping increase awareness of this problem among our employees and in our communities.”
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.