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8/3/2009

Iowa's Commercial Casinos Focus on "Knowing the Code" during Responsible Gaming Education Awareness August 3-7

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Latest Research Indicates Continued Low Rate of Problem Gambling - Iowa's 17 commercial casinos are observing Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW), August 3-7, 2009; for the twelfth consecutive year. This year the theme is "Know the Code" and will focus on best practice standards created by the industry. The "code" refers to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming, one of the pillars of the industry's commitment to responsible gaming education and practices. RGEW 2009 will emphasize the importance of this lasting industry pledge to employees, patrons and the public to integrate responsible gaming practices into every aspect of our daily operations. These are then incorporated into staff training so employees can become ambassadors and understand the importance of talking about responsible gaming practices among their colleagues, family members, friends and casino customers. RGEW is an annual reminder that 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.

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

The Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) represents the 17 state-regulated and commercially licensed casinos. Each property has at least one person designated to serve on the IGA's Responsible Gaming Group.

They meet quarterly to share best practices and discuss a checklist that was tailored from the Responsible Gaming Code of Conduct to assure consistent efforts are being put forth. Plus they review other tools, training and resources that are available to educate the public.

To assist people seeking help, the IGA 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.

Iowa Statistics on Gambling Behavior

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 "reports and studies".

"The BRFSS percentage has only changed a few tenths of a percent in eleven years demonstrating that more than 98% of people are able to gamble responsibly," said Wes Ehrecke, President of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA). "However, 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."

"The bottom line is that the commercial casinos are striving to encourage anyone needing help to make the necessary call to the 800-Bets-Off Helpline and hopefully this increased focus on Responsible Gaming Education to heighten staff and public awareness will accomplish that;" said Ehrecke.

"At the same time we have seen consistent research that validates most people who go to commercial casinos intend to do so responsibly; wisely using their discretionary entertainment dollars and having fun."

For more information, please call Wes Ehrecke, President of the IGA. His phone number is (515) 267-9200. The fax number is (515) 267-9300. You also can reach Wes by e-mail, wese@iowagaming.org or visit the IGA's website at www.iowagaming.org.

The IGA is an advocate for its members acting as a viable part of the state's economy and adding value to the entertainment and tourism industry.  The IGA's members are: Ameristar Casino Hotel – Council Bluffs; Argosy Casino – Sioux City; Catfish Bend Casino – Burlington; Diamond Jo Casino – Dubuque; Diamond Jo Worth Casino – Northwood; Harrah's Casino Hotel – Council Bluffs; Horseshoe Casino & Bluffs Run Greyhound Park – Council Bluffs; Isle of Capri Casino – Bettendorf; Isle of Capri Casino – Waterloo; Lady Luck Casino – Marquette; Mystique – Dubuque; Prairie Meadows – Altoona; Riverside Casino and Golf Resort – Riverside;  Rhythm City Casino -  Davenport; Terrible's Lakeside Casino – Osceola; Wild Rose Casino – Clinton and Wild Rose Casino – Emmetsburg.

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