NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction

Sunday, June 13, 2010

NCRG Conference News and On-Site Reports Move to Gambling Disorders 360°

Looking for the latest information about the NCRG's annual Conference on Gambling and Addiction? Visit our new blog - Gambling Disorders 360° - for updates about the conference, including registration information, conference program details, speaker information and more. Gambling Disorders 360° also will include on-site reports from the annual conference, such as interviews with speakers, session summaries and conference highlights.

Gambling Disorders 360° is housed on the the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders' website - You can also keep up-to-date on conference news and receive special registration discounts by following the NCRG on Facebook.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Save the Date for the 10th Annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction

Mark your calendars for the 10th Annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction, themed Money, Money, Money: Current Issues Affecting Research, Recovery and Responsible Gaming. The conference will be held Nov. 15-17 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and Las Vegas Convention Center.

This year’s conference program will highlight the many ways that money and finances impact gambling disorders and treatment. Sessions will examine issues such as how financial risk affects a gambler’s decision making, integrating financial management into treatment for gambling disorders and the state of responsible gaming efforts during the recession. Join the world’s leading addiction scientists, clinicians, public health workers and industry representatives to discuss these and a host of other topics.

What: 10th Annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction, themed “Money, Money, Money: Current Issues Affecting Research, Recovery and Responsible Gaming”

Where: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada

When: Nov.15-17, 2009

Looking for the latest news and issues in the gambling disorders research community between conferences? Check out Issues & Insights, a new, monthly online column published by the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Working Together: Responsible Gaming in Indian Country

Jana McKeag, president of Lowry Strategies and a national expert in Indian gaming issues, began this afternoon’s NCRG at G2E session by discussing public misconceptions about problem gambling at tribal casinos. McKeag said that many people assume that few tribal casinos have robust responsible gaming initiatives, and, she explained, these incorrect assumption are often used by gambling opponents to undermine tribal casinos. That is why, she said, tribal casinos must “take the next step” and begin pursuing responsible gaming efforts more aggressively.

McKeag added that the NCRG’s PEER (Partnership for Excellence in Education and Responsible Gaming) program can help tribal casinos take that next step. PEER provides casinos – both large and small – with a blueprint to develop and implement world-class responsible gaming programs. PEER, she said, was a particularly important tool for tribal casinos for two reasons: First, it provides them with a report card that quantifies their responsible gaming efforts, and second, PEER can be customized to meet the distinct needs of tribal casinos.

McKeag turned the presentation over to Dr. Kate Spilde Contreras, chair of the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming at San Diego University, who has conducted research on responsible gaming efforts at tribal casinos in California. In her research, she learned that many tribal casinos wanted to implement responsible gaming programs at their facilities, but that there was a dearth of information available on how to do so. After completing her research, Spilde Contreras joined forces with the NCRG to connect tribal and commercial casinos with practical, easy-to-use responsible gaming resources.

Spilde Contreras then provided audience members with background on the NCRG. She said that the number of responsible gaming resources has grown considerably in recent years, thanks in large part to the NCRG. She added that casinos should approach responsible gaming as a corporate social responsibility initiative. As McKeag said, “responsible gaming helps maximize the benefits of gaming, while minimizing the potential harms.”

Contreras then introduced Jacob Coin, director of the office of public affairs for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and his colleague, Diana Scina. Jacob told a story about his father, who returned home from World War II with severe alcohol problems. He said that similar issues, such as gambling addiction, are plaguing Indian communities. He added that it is the responsibility of tribal leaders to preserve the cultural, spiritual and social health of their communities. He said, “We are in the entertainment business, but there is nothing entertaining about seeing people lose their jobs, homes, or families because of their addictions.”

Scina then discussed the responsible gaming efforts in place at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino. There, she said, they have placed responsible gaming posters throughout the facility. Also, they have trained all front-line employees on how to identify gamblers who may have problems. All management staff is trained to reach out to potential problem gamblers, and management also is prohibited from gambling at the facility. In addition, the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino has implemented a self-exclusion program and strict age restrictions for the entire facility, not just the gaming floor.

The panel then accepted questions from audience members, who asked about the specifics of the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino self-exclusion programs and marketing materials. Spilde Contreras briefly reviewed the PEER program and encouraged audience members to participate in a demonstration of the program at the conclusion of the breakout session. McKeag concluded the session by reiterating how helpful the PEER program can be for tribal casinos, calling it the “next wave” in responsible gaming.

Interview with Kate Spilde Contreras of San Diego State University

Click here for the NCRG Blog Team interview with Dr. Kate Spilde Contreras, chair of the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming at San Diego State University, about her NCRG Conference experience. Spilde Contreras participated in this afternoon’s NCRG at G2E session, Working Together: Responsible Gaming in Indian Country.

Analyzing the Costs and Benefits of Gambling: Cultural, Historical and Economic Perspectives

In a packed room at the Las Vegas Convention Center this morning, session moderator Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs at MGM MIRAGE, kicked off a much-anticipated discussion about the costs and benefits of gambling by asking the panel why exactly it is so difficult to measure the social and economic impacts of gambling.

Dr. William Eadington, professor of economics and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, first reminded the audience that gambling is an inherently political industry because it already is the largest industry in the world created by political processes, a fact that shades the research in this area. Eadington added that another challenge lies in the fact that there simply isn’t much research in this field because there are only a handful of researchers studying the issue.

Dr. Douglas Walker, associate professor in economics at the College of Charleston, built on Eadington’s point about the political nature of this issue, explaining that, in some ways, it makes it difficult to have good, quality research. According to Walker, politicians and policymakers have a low threshold for the quality of the research, and it seems that so long as they have some statistics to cite to show that gambling is either good or bad, they don’t have a strong interest in the quality of that information. Eadington added that this phenomenon extends to the media. He credited our “sound bite” culture and the desire to provide an easy explanation of what is an extremely complicated issue with giving a larger platform to a number of unscientific cost-benefit estimates.

Feldman asked the panelists to describe what the costs and benefits of gambling are. Walker began by explaining that there is some disagreement of what constitutes a social cost – most economists consider a social cost to be a cost which requires society to allocate resources for something when they otherwise would have been used elsewhere. In the case of gambling, this would include costs for treatment of problem and pathological gamblers, regulation and supervision. He mentioned that there is disagreement in the field about whether the transfer of wealth associated with gambling is a social cost. Walker doesn’t believe it should be considered a cost, adding that one problem with research on this topic is that people say, “this sounds like it should be a cost,” and so they decide to include it.

Regarding the costs of pathological gambling, Dr. David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research, at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, explained that while it is possible to track the life and habits of one pathological gambler, it is difficult to abstract this number out to society as a whole. He suggested instead of a cost-benefit ratio, policymakers need to view gambling though the lens of a series of tradeoffs. He said that this is a much more honest and neutral way than a lot of the numbers that are out there, but that, unfortunately, given the nature of the news cycle, people prefer to have a quick and easy number.

Eadington noted that pathological gambling is an individual cost of gambling, but that economic research tends to regard individuals as rational and self-interested. He said that future research on this issue needs to marry issues economists bring to the table with more sensitive issues from psychiatry and other social sciences.

Walker added that the benefits of gambling are easier to measure. He said they usually are measured in employment, tax revenues, and the development within complimentary industries. Ha also added that the major benefit of gambling is that consumers enjoy it and are willing to pay money for it, so why not let people spend their money the way they want to? Despite the fact that this is perhaps the largest benefit of gambling, Walker said it is largely ignored in public policy debate around gambling.

Feldman then asked the panelists what their views are of the statistics that are often used to describe costs and benefits and whether there is any veracity to them. Eadington quickly rattled off three commonly cited statistics about the costs of gambling and explained that there is no evidence to justify any of them, but they have been widely disseminated because of our sound bite culture. He added that once bad statistics are out there, they tend to take on a life of their own.

According to Walker, the fact that the cost ranges are so wide and varied indicates that there’s something wrong with research in this area. He noted that, as of yet, no one has developed a good way to measure the costs. He used the example of the losses of pathological gamblers, explaining that a lot of the existing numbers on this issue are based on self-reporting; however, several scientific studies have shown that many of these people are unable to accurately calculate how much money they lose, so the numbers are almost completely arbitrary.

Feldman then asked the panelists what advice they would give to policymakers who are seeking to understand this issue. Eadington said that pathological gambling has risen to top of public policy debate, and that he believes policy in this arena is moving toward a way to separate people who have gambling problems from those who don’t and finding a way to prevent those with gambling problems from using the product. He mentioned examples of this type of approach currently used in Australia, Singapore and China, in which governments seem to be attempting to keep gambling from “getting too big.”

Walker recommended policymakers not rely on dollar estimates because the ones that exist are unreliable. He instead suggested policymakers focus on the general issues of what the likely costs and benefits are, instead of specific dollar amounts, and more fundamental issues of what role the government has in determining how people spend their money.

Schwartz said he believes it is not the government’s responsibility to decide how much we gamble, that instead policymakers should let the market decide. He said that government has a responsibility to regulate the product and make sure the industry is fairly and honestly run, but that when government tries to regulate the supply, that’s problematic.

Interview with Doug Walker of the College of Charleston

Click here for the NCRG Blog Team interview with Dr. Doug Walker, associate professor in economics at the College of Charleston. Walker participated in one of today’s NCRG at G2E sessions, Analyzing the Costs and Benefits of Gambling: Cultural, Historical and Economic Perspectives.

NCRG Conference: Day 3 At-a-Glance

The 9th annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction wraps up today at the Las Vegas Convention Center with its special NCRG at G2E sessions, produced in conjunction with Global Gaming Expo. Here’s a quick look at today’s schedule.

8 - 9 a.m. – The Verdict’s Still Out: Updates on Problem Gambling Regulations and Litigation
David Stewart, Of Counsel, Ropes & Gray, LLP
Connie Jones, Director of Responsible Gaming, International Game Technology
Richard A. LaBrie, Ed.D., Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical
Room N107

9:15 - 10:15 a.m. – Analyzing the Costs and Benefits of Gambling: Cultural, Historical and Economic Perspectives
Alan Feldman, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, MGM MIRAGE
William Eadington, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Director, Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, University of Nevada, Reno
David Schwartz, Ph.D., Director, Center for Gaming Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Douglas M. Walker, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Economics, Georgia College and State University
Room N107

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. – G2E Opening Day Keynote Address featuring award-winning journalist Ron Insana
Room N250

11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. – Common Cause: How HR Departments and EAPs Address Gambling Disorders in the Workforce
Sue Cox, Board Member, NCRG
Robert Boswell, Senior Vice President, Pioneer Behavioral Health
Carl G. Braunlich, D.B.A., Associate Professor, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Susan McDaniel, Director of Human Resources, The Mirage
Room N107

2 - 3 p.m. – Working Together: Responsible Gaming in Indian Country
Jana McKeag, President, Lowry Strategies
Kate Spilde Contreras, Ph.D., Chair, Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming, San Diego State University
Jacob Coin, Director, Office of Public Affairs, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
Room N102

3 p.m. – G2E Show Floor Tour (Pre-registration Required)