The state’s 19 state-regulated casinos are holding events for Responsible Gaming Education Week. Iowa Gaming Association president, Wes Ehrecke says it is a cooperative effort.
“A theme that we have this year is partnering with a treatment provider. Most of the people who can go to a casino — probably well over 98 percent — can go for the fun and entertainment that it is intended to be,” Ehercke says. “But for those who might be experiencing compulsive behavior or problem gambling –we want to heighten awareness and know where they can go for help.”
He says workers in the casinos learn how to handle problem gambling issues. “Staff will have training from the treatment providers to know what the warning signs are and the intervention skills to use to speak with a person if they might be experiencing problems,” Ehrecke says. Ehrecke says people can sometimes try to use gambling to try and escape other issues in their lives and that’s something the treatment providers are teaching casino workers.
“We want to be able to recognize that to be able to get them to help. We don’t want folks who are experiencing problems to come to our casino, that’s not what it is intended to be,” according to Ehrecke. He says while the initiatives to heighten awareness will take place at the casino properties throughout the week, the casinos try to promote responsible gaming throughout the year. “We want people to come to the casino for the fun and entertainment that it is intended to be, to bet with their head, not over it. To have a budget, to be responsible, not (to spend) their dollars earmarked for food, clothing, shelter and the like, but really their discretionary dollars earmarked for entertainment,” Ehrecke says.
Ehrecke says the state has great treatment programs and the casinos will do the best they can to help those who need their services to get help.