Gambling has been around for a very long time. Most of our history has stories about games of chance for entertainment. But for as long as gambling has been around, so have people who have a problem. Gambling is for entertainment purposes and the gaming industry works with various groups to help educate the public about the potential dangers for some and how they can get the help they need. They also educate their employees in recognizing someone who may have a gambling problem that is inside the casino and the policies of the casino regarding responsible gambling.
Thirty-eight states allow casino gambling, with Las Vegas leading the way in revenues, followed by Atlantic City and Chicago. Many of the casinos outside of Las Vegas and Atlantic City are Indian casinos located on tribal lands. In the last few years many states have turned to casino gambling as a way of boosting government revenue in the form of taxes and providing jobs to those in need in the community. But there are many who question the veracity of these moves and whether the economic and social consequences are worth the initial revenue boost.
Positive Impact of the Gaming Industry
For the most part, the gaming industry has had a positive impact on the communities that surround casinos. It’s not just about gambling. Casinos are almost always built within or near hotels. They include restaurants, shopping malls and boutiques, concert venues, sporting events, and other forms of entertainment. This has provided jobs, created an economic stimulus for many communities, and generated tax revenues for state and local municipalities. Many areas have seen a growth in tourism that they might not have had, otherwise, adding even more revenue for the community.
Indian gaming, in particular, has seen some very positive changes in the tribal communities. There has been a population increase on reservations that house casinos, an increase in employment among young Native Americans, and an overall decline in poverty and the working poor. These changes tend to occur whether casinos are located on tribal lands or not. However, there are negative impacts, as well.
Negative Impact of the Gaming Industry
There has been some negative impact from the gaming industry, as well. Some communities have reported an increase in crimes like theft, and poverty. Casino owners and operators have been working with the communities they are located to help improve these conditions. A large problem associated with gambling is addiction. Most people view the gaming industry for what it is—a form of entertainment. But there is a percentage of the population with a gambling problem and this is an issue that is very important to the industry.
It is estimated that one percent of American adults have a serious compulsive gambling problem that has a large impact on their lives and their families, and two to three percent have a significant problem. They tend to believe that after a long losing streak they’re going to hit it big, so they keep chasing the losses, whether its slot machines for a big payout, or other casino games. Over time they will run through their bank accounts, max out credit cards, and sometimes turn to stealing to feed their habit. Problem gambling destroys relationships and families, has led to bankruptcy, and in some cases, jail time.
What Are Casinos Doing to Promote Responsible Gambling?
The American Gaming Association, which represents a vast majority of the gaming industry, including casino owners and operators and their employees, is working toward a culture of responsible gambling. They are actively involved in funding research on problem gambling, as well as helping to educate the public on its consequences. The gaming industry as a whole works closely within the community and with state and private treatment providers to try to help eliminate problem gambling. The gaming industry stresses that it is for entertainment, plain and simple and they do not want problem gamblers in their casinos.
Casinos all over the country have instituted programs to promote responsible gambling in their communities and among their patrons.
- MGM Grand Hotel and Casino trains its employees with programs in responsible gambling policies and procedures, they provide information on win-loss odds to demonstrate it is for entertainment only, and have instituted programs for their patrons with a problem to get help.
- Mohegan Sun has a website dedicated to helping customers who think they may have a problem and provides information on where to get help.
- Caesars Entertainment has implemented Operation Bet Smart in an effort to train employees in policies of procedures of the casino in an effort to promote responsible gaming and to know the signs. They also have Project 21 which educates the public about the dangers of under-age gambling. The casino also works closely with the National Council on Problem Gambling Inc. to educate the public on responsible gambling.
Casinos everywhere, from Las Vegas and Atlantic City to smaller, more local casinos have policies to help raise awareness of problem gambling, helping customers get the help they need, and promote responsible gambling.
Warning Signs of Problem Gambling
Working with various organizations to promote responsible gambling, including the National Center for Responsible Gaming, casinos are educating customers and employees alike to the warning signs of problem gambling. They include:
- Gambling to get money to help fix any financial difficulties
- Gambling to escape your problems
- Inability to stop playing
- Gambling until your money is gone
- Neglecting your family or other loved ones
- Unwilling to use your “gambling money” on normal spending
- Having trouble sleeping
- Unhappy at home
There are many places you can seek help if you think you have a gambling problem including Gamblers Anonymous, as well as many state and local organizations offering free treatment, and private institutions that offer treatment at low cost.
The gaming industry is committed to helping customers get the help for they need for problem gambling, educating the public and their employees about responsible gambling, and working with many organizations to fund research and treatment.