Everyone needs to take responsibility for responsible gaming

Everyone needs to take responsibility for responsible gaming

August 15, 2017 3:11 AM

Some sage advice for top-level gaming executives, delivered by Jan Jones of Caesars Entertainment Group at a recent conference in Spain on the subject of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), certainly goes hand in hand with the current American Gambling Association (AGA) roadshow announcing the group’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming.

The former Las Vegas mayor stressed that the general public often regards the gaming industry as a force intending to do them harm. She added that this is a perception that needs to be quickly reversed.

“The gaming industry has a valuable story to tell, we just don’t know how to tell the story,” she said, adding the gambling industry is “a worldwide powerhouse” and “creates more jobs and innovations than many other industries,” but we can’t just do business in any jurisdiction, we need licenses.

Jones advised fellow executives to develop a well-funded CSR program, make sure it is well thought out and driven by the CEO. This is the way to change the perception, she said.

“Imagine an industry where you don’t have to beg for a license. Imagine an industry when people presume you’re going to do good, not that you’re going to do harm,” said Jones.

Jones’ words seem to dovetail into the AGA’s recent push to make known its Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming.

The new guidelines make the following pledges to patrons:

AGA members will make information available promoting responsible gaming and where to find assistance, including a toll-free help line number. This information will be available and visible on casino floors and at cash access devices.

AGA members will make available on their gaming-related Web sites information describing responsible gaming, their policies and practices related to responsible gaming and where to find assistance.

AGA members, where permitted by law, will make available to patrons and employees information generally explaining the probabilities of winning or losing at the various gambling games offered by the casino.

Each AGA casino company will have a policy in effect for all of its casino properties providing opportunities for patrons to request in writing the revocation of their privileges for specific services such as:

• Casino-issued markers

• Player club/card privileges

• On-site check-cashing

• Complimentaries

• Gambling promotions

In addition, each AGA casino company shall make reasonable efforts on a facility-by-facility basis to honor a written request from any person that it not knowingly grant that person access to gambling activities.

There is a great deal more to this recent push for responsible gaming. Some of it is merely paying lip service to lawmakers because they control who gets a license and who does not. However, a great deal of it serves as a blueprint as to what casino companies should be doing to assist customers.

However, the AGA should not lose sight of the need for grass roots support of the code; that is the casino personnel on the front lines dealing the games and supervising the casino floor. An example would be some of the side 21 (blackjack) games now played at most casinos. I asked a pit boss and dealer recently what were the true odds to win one of these side games so I could get a better idea of the risk/reward involved and neither knew the true odds. They looked at me like I was a man from Mars.

Knowledge of your chances of winning is where responsible gaming really begins. Only then can a player make an informed decision to take the risk involved.

Most players know when gambling that the odds are against them, but don’t mind a reasonable risk for a commensurate reward. A better-informed casino staff is the real cornerstone of responsible gaming. Most players don’t mind losing, however, they should insist on a decent chance to win. Only the player with the cash can really decide if the risk/reward is worth it.

Jones continued her cogent and logical line of thought by noting that it’s important to make CSR a core part of casino companies and, if achieved, the regulators will become collaborators rather than overseers.

She concluded her remarks by stressing that investors also need to know the story because it could influence decisions on where they put their dollars.

In the end, responsible gambling remains the player’s responsibility. However, the casino companies must make sure the information is available to allow the player a chance to fairly meet that responsibility. As has been pointed out in this space previously: everyone needs to be responsible for themselves.

That’s really what responsible gaming is all about.