NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Global Gaming, Part 1: Asian and Australian Approaches to Responsible Gaming

The recent rapid growth of the gaming industry in Asia has been accompanied by increased interest in responsible gaming practices and policies targeting Asian populations. This afternoon’s session, Global Gaming, Part 1: Asian and Australian Approaches to Responsible Gaming, sought to shed light on the existing responsible gaming practices in Asia as well as those being implemented in Australia.

In his presentation, Ivan YIU, head of the Youth and Family section and Coordinator of Addiction Counseling Services at the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in Hong Kong, examined the meaning of gambling in Chinese culture and the implications it has for prevention and treatment. YIU pointed out that Asian people generally are regarded as liking gambling more than people from Western cultures, and that research shows countries with primarily Chinese populations have a higher prevalence rate of pathological gamblers than other places in the world.

YIU identified some of the cultural characteristics of Chinese gamblers, which included the knowledge that gambling is a socially recognized way of making money in Chinese culture, a strong belief that intuition and inspirations will help winning and a strong illusion of control in gambling, which is aggravated by cultural beliefs of supernatural factors like “Fate,” “Luck” and “Feng Shui.” YIU also pointed to the fact that Asian families often are more willing to pay off debts of gambling family members.

These characteristics have an important influence on the types of responsible gaming programs that are created and implemented in Asian populations, YIU said. To best fit the needs presented by these cultural characteristics, Asian community prevention efforts include education about the probability of winning in different forms of gambling activities, education about alternative ways to relax and cope with stress, education on assertive skills relating to dealing with peer pressure and more. Similarly, Asian treatment efforts include the development of culturally sensitive screening tools, such as the newly created Chinese G-MAP, which differs from Western tools in that it puts more focus on the family environment rather than just on the individual; relapse prevention by paying attention to high-risk occasions such as Chinese New Year, and cognitive therapy that takes into account cultural and supernatural beliefs.

The need to adjust responsible gaming education tools for Asian population was echoed by Scott Ross, director of government relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Las Vegas Sands opened the first U.S.-owned casino in Asia, the Sands Macao, in May 2004 and will be opening the Venetian Macao next year. In some of its recent responsible gaming education efforts, Ross explained that the company has had to adjust its programs to ensure they are tailored to the cultural needs of their Asian employees and customers. These adjustments range from translating acronyms so they make sense in the new language to adjusting the premises and values upon which the education efforts are based.

Ross stressed that the key to any good responsible gaming program is partnerships with the health sector, the government and other key stakeholders. Las Vegas Sands’ Asian responsible gaming program will include a responsible gaming policy and mission statement, the implementation of a responsible gaming committee, a self-exclusion program, staff training and education sessions conducted by fellow staff members and partnerships with health and government groups.

In addition, Vicki Flannery, a gaming industry consultant and the first CEO of the Australian Gaming Council, offered some history and insights on responsible gaming strategies in Australia, including the emerging trends in current strategies. These trends include a continued call for tough measures with regard to the advertising and restrictions surrounding gaming, loss limit and pre-commitment measures, community awareness and education, school programs, financial literacy counseling and the continued measurement of treatment effectiveness. She pointed out that policy issues surrounding responsible gaming remain a “hot issue,” but that there has been some trend to a public health model, which focuses on the collaboration of myriad stakeholders and helping consumers make an informed choice, in some Australian states. Additionally, Flannery said the industry really has improved its performance in the realm of responsible gaming over the past five to six years.


Post a Comment

<< Home