Most people who visit Iowa’s 19 state-licensed casinos don’t suffer from gambling addiction, but for the few who do, those environments can be very detrimental.
This is Responsible Gaming Education Week in Iowa. Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, says it’s a time to focus on educating casino employees and patrons.
“Well over 98% of people can go to the casino for the fun and entertainment it’s intended to be using their discretionary dollars,” Ehrecke says, “but for those that it might be a problem, we want to heighten awareness about resources that are available, gambling treatment counselors, 1-800-BETS OFF and other tools and resources they could explore if they’re experiencing a problem.”
Last year, significant changes were made to the voluntary self-exclusion program as a result of legislation passed in the Iowa legislature. This week, continued emphasis will help clarify and explain to patrons this reform that allows a person to voluntarily ban themselves for either five years or for life. Ehrecke credits the work of gambling treatment counselors at facilities near all 19 casinos.
“They are coming in to spend time, in some cases interacting with the patrons by setting up tables near the entrances,” Ehrecke says, “but especially with the employees to do staff training to better understand intervention skills and how to recognize if someone may be having a problem.” Ehrecke says there is a new online link that was created by the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program for those who are in need of help.
“They have developed this new link called Your Life Iowa,” he says. “It’s not just gambling. It could be substance abuse. It could be mental health, various issues people might be experiencing and they have it all under one umbrella. YourLife.Iowa.org is a very helpful resource for people.”
There is also more information at www.iowagaming.org.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)