Gaming operators are pouring millions of dollars into responsible-gaming programs. This expenditure may be viewed as the cost of doing business, as most jurisdictions demand RG programs when issuing licenses.
But during the discussion “Leaders Panel — Walking the Tightrope of Player Protection and Growth” Tuesday at the Player Protection Symposium in New York City, panelists agreed that the return on investment from such programs is incalculable and helps stave off damaging outcomes.
“The money we invest in RG – Caesars Entertainment is doing it, Entain and BetMGM, and many others (are) – will come back in spades,” said Bill Pacrell III, a lobbyist with the Princeton Public Affairs Group. “If we don’t do that, then (there are negative headlines when scandals occur). Because once legislators or governors or regulators get a hold of an issue as sensitive and important as this, it’s going to really hurt the industry.”
The Player Protection Symposium, held at the Midtown Loft and Terrace in Manhattan, kicked off the first day of SBC Summit North America. “Walking the Tightrope,” hosted by Shelley White of the Responsible Gaming Council, focused not only on the necessity of RG programs, but also their inherent benefits.
Caesars Entertainment Board Member Jan Jones Blackhurst noted that the gaming operator established a “Code of Commitment” in 1999 designed to emphasize the casino company’s obligations to its employees and their families and the communities in which they operate.
“So, it changed the culture into one where people felt safe, engaged, and proud of the company they were working for,” she said.
And because Caesars established that as a baseline for its operations, the communal atmosphere became part of the player experience and how the company has approached problem gaming for the last three decades.
“It’s everything from training every single employee on responsible gaming to having 800 ambassadors (across all Caesars’ properties) who are trained at a higher level to intervene when they see a customer having a problem,” Blackhurst said.
Tribal-gaming operators have long realized the necessity of RG programs. San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Executive Advisor to the Chairman Jacob Coin stated, “No known ethnic group in the country suffers more from addictions than Native people.”
To deal with that, Coin said, tribal leaders knew they could draw from their respective cultures to address responsible-gaming issues.
“The conversations started very early,” Coin said. “I was sold that the culture was going to be the foundation for whatever the tribes were going to develop and create in terms of approaches and how to deal with responsible-gaming issues.”
While problem gambling has long been an issue, gaming operators didn’t always promote initiatives addressing the issue. Blackhurst admitted that some outside the industry think that casino operators “are breeding addiction and that addicted people can always find places to gamble.
“We can help,” Blackhurst said. “But we have to remember that the large majority, almost 97 percent of the people who enjoy gambling entertainment, enjoy it responsibly. And if you understand that, you realize there are two messages. There’s a broad message about responsible gaming and why it matters, and there’s one specifically targeted at disordered players.”
Coin noted that San Manuel Tribe, located in Highland, California, was designated as a responsible-gaming establishment by the state 15 years ago. Coin said that benchmark was achieved through extensive training of its gaming employees “and making sure that we are doing everything possible to ensure that those vulnerable people who come to our property are treated and dealt with in the proper ways.”
“The bottom line is we want to send the message to the world is that gaming should be and could be a wonderful entertainment option. If needed, we have these safeguards in place and we’re happy to be a part of that.”