Today marks the end of "Responsible Gaming Education Week" in Iowa. Wes Ehrecke is the president of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA). Ehrecke says it’s been an effort with all the commercial casinos and their employees to talk about responsible gaming, to focus ways to keep it fun and entertaining, while also helping those who need help.
Ehrecke says there are a lot of resources available to help problem gamblers, or for those who may question if they are going too far. He says there’s the 1-800-BETTS-OFF phone line, and on the I-G-A’s website under the responsible gaming section, there’s an area where you can take some personal and confidential quizzes if you question whether you might have a problem.
Some might think it’s contradictory for casino operators to try and keep problem gamblers out of their facilities, but Ehrecke says that’s part of their goal. Ehrecke says they’re in the entertainment business and want people to spend their discretionary entertainment dollars at their facilities with a budgeted amount. He says they want those who have a problem to get help. Ehrecke says research shows well over 98-percent of gamblers are responsible.
Ehrecke says a lot of progress has been made in studying and helping problem gamblers. He says the National Center for Responsible Gaming and the Harvard Center for Responsible gaming has done extensive research on gambling and other compulsive behaviors.
Ehrecke says it’s encouraging to be able to better understand problem gambling through research and to be able to find treatments to help. Ehrecke says over 23-million people visit the casinos in the state every year.