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8/4/2008

Commercial Casinos Begin Second Decade of Responsible Gaming Education Awareness August 4-8

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Latest Research Indicates Continued Low Rate of Problem Gambling

Iowa's commercial casinos are observing Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW), August 4 – 8, 2008; for the eleventh consecutive year. The theme "Let's talk about Responsible Gaming" will focus on the role of gaming industry employees as ambassadors for the responsible gaming message and the importance of talking about responsible gaming practices among their colleagues, family members, friends and casino customers. RGEW encourages employees to begin a conversation about responsible gaming at home, on the job and in the community as part of the industry's ongoing year-round efforts.

To assist people seeking help with responsible gaming; the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA), that represents the 17 state regulated and commercially licensed casinos, continues to provide a vast array of resources on its website at www.iowagaming.org/responsible_gaming/resources.aspx. Resources include the First Step to Change; an online guide to changing gambling behavior, the downloadable voluntary self exclusion form, a quiz to try and identify who is 21, as well as links to Iowa's gambling treatment centers, the I-800-Bets-Off Hotline; plus several helpful brochures that answer questions and provide tips on responsible gaming and how to keep the gaming experience fun.

The member casinos have various individual activities planned which include offering an employee training quiz on responsible gaming; heightening awareness about warning signs, and inviting local gambling treatment counseling agencies to set up a table to interact with patrons and meet with staff about intervention skills. Iowa Governor Chet Culver also issued a Proclamation recognizing the importance of RGEW.

"Iowa's commercial casinos are collectively the largest tourist destination in the state serving more than 23 million guests annually and it's clear that the vast majority of those who visit a casino do so responsibly," said Wes Ehrecke, President of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA). "We want to ensure that the small percentage of those who suffer from compulsive behavior have access to all of the help that is available which is why we provide extensive information at each casino and on our website," said Ehrecke.

In fact, the latest statistics on Iowan's gambling behavior show that 1.1% of Iowan's who gambled in the last 12 months experienced financial, family or work related problems because of gambling which has remained consistent with previous years. The Iowa Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an ongoing telephone survey, which is financially and technically supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The statewide survey, a scientifically designed and validated method of collecting information from 5,000 household telephone surveys is conducted annually by the University of Northern Iowa for the Iowa Department of Public Health and posted at www.1800betsoff.org under "statistics".

"The percentage has only changed a few tenths of a percent in ten years demonstrating that more than 98% of people are able to gamble responsibly," said Ehrecke. "The statistics are consistent with the highly regarded National Gambling Impact Study Commission's Report released in 1999 showing a similar percentage and the more recent NESARC (National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions) study that interviewed more than 40 thousand people."

The NESARC study showed the lifetime prevalence rate of pathological gambling was 0.42% with the rate for men at 0.64% and the rate for women at 0.23%. The study was conducted in 2001-2002 with individuals 18 years and older residing in all 50 states and Washington DC. The study was done through face-to-face personal interviews and had a response rate of 81%.

"The bottom line is making sure anyone needing help will make the necessary call, and hopefully this increased RGEW effort to heighten awareness will accomplish that;" said Ehrecke. "At the same time this research validates that most people who go to the commercial casinos intend to do so responsibly; wisely using their discretionary entertainment dollars and having fun."

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