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7/30/2010

State of Iowa Proclamation: Aug 2-6 is Iowa Responsible Gaming Education Week

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Iowa’s Commercial Casinos Focus on “Taking the Mystery Out of the Machine” during Responsible Gaming Education Awareness August 2-6

– Latest Research Indicates Continued Low Rate of Problem Gambling

DES MOINES (August 2, 2010) – Iowa’s 17 commercial casinos that are members of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) are observing Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW), August 2 – 6, 2010; for the thirteenth consecutive year.  This year the focus is on “Taking the Mystery Out of the Machine” to help customers understand how slot machines work. Some of the insights provided in a guide prepared by the American Gaming Association (AGA) include dispelling myths about odds of winning a jackpot, how slot machines operate randomly on every spin, the types of machines and evolution of games and ensuring highly-regulated compliance. “This valuable tool is available to educate employees and patrons during RGEW and as a year-round ongoing responsible gaming resource;” said Wes Ehrecke, President of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA).

This RGEW week will also focus on collaboration between the gambling counseling agencies and the commercial casinos to educate about best practices, prevention and awareness efforts and treatment services including the 800 BETS OFF helpline; as well as highlight an industry commitment to responsible gaming that includes a voluntary statewide self-exclusion trespass program for those individuals who identify themselves as needing assistance. 

RGEW 2010 will emphasize the importance of employees, patrons and the public to integrate responsible gaming practices into every aspect of their daily lives. These are also 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 some are offering an innovative employee training quiz on responsible gaming. Iowa Governor Chet Culver also issued a Proclamation recognizing the importance of RGEW.

» Download Proclamation

The IGA represents the 17 state-regulated and commercially licensed casinos; and 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. This effort helps to assure proactive initiatives and new ideas are being shared; and casinos are collaborating with organizations interested in curbing problem gambling and offering proactive responsible gaming efforts.  Plus this group regularly reviews other tools, training and resources that are available to educate the public on a year-around basis.

To assist people seeking help, the IGA continues to provide a vast array of resources on its website. 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 continue to show that around one per cent of Iowan’s who gambled in the last 12 months experienced financial, family or work related problems because of gambling; which has remained consistent for the past several 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 BRFSS percentage has only changed a few tenths of a percent in more than eleven years demonstrating that more than 98% of people are able to gamble responsibly,” stated Ehrecke.  “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 for the fun and entertainment intended.”

Contact:
Wes Ehrecke, CAE
President
Iowa Gaming Association (IGA)
(515) 267-9200

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