NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction

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.


Post a Comment

<< Home