a good start for Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2017

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  • update: The first community forum presentation on problem gambling of the NYS Responsible Play Partnership will be held Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at Elston Hall, at Schenectady County Community College, at 5 PM. It is free and open to the public. Please be there to show your support for not only more problem gambling treatment resources, but also for education and outreach resources to help deter problem gambling from ever getting to the stage where professional intervention is needed.

One year ago, we posted “Will problem gambling awareness month inspire action?” (March 2, 2016), posing the question: What are our public health officials and other local political and community leaders doing to combat problem gambling?

That 2016 Awareness Month post argued that:

[O]nly organized programs specifically focused on problem gambling prevention, education, and treatment, with ongoing outreach activities, can hope to address the effects that a casino in Schenectady is likely to have on our community. With Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor now scheduled to open in a year, such programs are needed ASAP and must especially target vulnerable groups, such as aging adults, low-income residents, and youth. [To see the full post, with its discussion, links, etc., click this short URL: http://tinyurl.com/ProbGambSchdy]

Education-Prevention Trumps Treatment. Our hope was that community education and prevention activities might be in operation prior to the Casino’s opening, in order to help inoculate the population of Schenectady against the anticipated tsunami of publicity for the Rivers Casino at Mohawk Harbor, with its resulting Casino Fever.  As expected, in addition to the Casino’s own advertising and promotions, publicity for the Casino has included government and media cheerleading, as casino “gaming” is promoted as a normal, glamorous, and even civic-spirited activity. Our goal was, and is, not to urge the general public to avoid or boycott the Casino, but instead to help create an informed attitude toward casino gambling that places it into the low-risk category of casual entertainment and recreation, rather than an acceptable high-risk habit leading down the path of problem, disordered, or pathological gambling.  Unfortunately, in the past year, our local government leaders have not stepped forward to put Problem Gambling Awareness [“PGA”] programs into place in time to inoculate our community from casino fever.

nyrpplogoNonetheless, rather than point fingers or speculate on motives, I am happy to say there has been important activity at the State level that promises to bring significant PGA information to Schenectady, as well as other New York communities “hosting” casino, racino and similar “gaming” facilities. Those activities were announced in an email sent on February 28, 2017, by New York’s Responsible Play Partnership [formed in 2013], recognizing March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The text of the email can be found at the bottom of this posting. [See “What state’s doing to help you gamble responsiblyNew Yorkers can now ban themselves from facilities” (Schenectady Daily Gazette, by Brett Samuels, March 1, 2017)] The full text of the email can be found at the end of this posting.

probgam-pg2016-1920x1080-banners_nat_final . .  click on this thumbnail for the full Awareness Month poster:

The opening paragraphs of the NYRPP announcement, states:

New York’s Responsible Play Partnership (RPP) – consisting of the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York State Office on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the New York Council on Problem Gambling – today announced a series of initiatives in recognition of March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

The Commission also launched its statewide self-exclusion program … [which] allows problem gamblers to ban themselves from all casinos operating in New York State

The RPP’s plans for March include visiting newly opened casinos to review the operators’ efforts to promote responsible gaming practices, followed by public meetings in the communities hosting the casinos to educate the public on the resources available for those who need help.

hopeline-text-square-purple-300x300 The RPP will also foster awareness through a focused social media campaign, conversation-driving signage at all gaming facilities across the State and development of a new public service announcement reminding New Yorkers that the OASAS HOPELINE (1-877-8HOPE-NY/TEXT HOPENY) exists to address all forms of addiction – including gambling. Finally, for the first time ever, the New York Lottery will feature responsible gaming messaging as part of its daily televised drawings.

  • Dates, times and locations for the public meetings will be announced in the near future. The Gazette reported, “A meeting is expected to be held in Schenectady in late March, though official details have not yet been announced.” We will list the information about the Schenectady meeting(s) when available.
  • LagoLogoB&W According to the Gazette, “Mary Cheeks, general manager at Schenectady’s Rivers Casino & Resort, previously said the business’ policies to promote responsible gaming include employee education and training, self-exclusion policies and listing the state’s addiction help hotline on advertisements and social media posts.” We believe that Rivers Casino, like del Lago in Tyre (which is paying for their County to hire two problem gambling counselors, or for treatment and one for prevention), should do much more to help the community learn about problem gambling. The Racing Commission has noted that fees and tax revenues (such as the annual fee on each slot machine) should not be counted as the casino fulfilling its obligation to mitigate such issues in its host community.

Statewide Self-Exclusion. RPP’s Awareness Month email (text below) stresses the new statewide nature of its Self-exclusion program, noting it is “the broadest self-exclusion program in the nation”, and stating:

The statewide policy closes a decades-old regulatory loophole in New York that made it possible for video lottery and casino patrons to voluntarily ban themselves from one gaming property only to continue playing at a neighboring facility unabated.

crimescene-casino The wisdom of a statewide ban is not obvious, and this site will delve further into the notion of a gambler being forced to self-exclude from every facility in the state. Will such a ban discourage many persons from entering the self-exclusion program, which in fact subjects the signer to criminal charges for entering the forbidden facilities regulated by the Racing Commission?  For a large portion of at-risk gamblers, it is proximity that creates their biggest danger. Why wouldn’t a geographic ban within a reasonable radius of the signer’s primary casino be effective? Why make it impossible for the signer, for example, to vacation with family or friends anywhere in the State and spend one evening at a casino? Would’t signing become an embarrassing stigma?

probgam-pgam2017toolkitlogoHave the Conversation.  A very important part of RPP’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month program for 2017 is its request that every New Yorker have a problem gambling conversation with at least one person in March. We will have much more to say on the Have the Conversation project, but for now please note that the New York Problem Gambling Council has put together a very useful Toolkit, with helpful one-page Action Sheets for Youth, Parents, Senior Citizen Caregivers, School Personnel, and School Administrators.  Click on the Toolkit logo to the right of this paragraph, or go to http://tinyurl.com/HTCtoolkit, to see and download the Have the Conversation Toolkit.

After a year of disappointment over the lack of public programs in Schenectady County relating to prevention, education and treatment for Problem Gambling, I am looking forward to see the RPP’s programs in action and resources in wide circulation.

. . share this posting with this short URL: http://tinyurl.com/2017PGAMschdy

The email message explaining NY Responsible Play Partnership’s efforts this month to increase Problem Gambling Awareness is immediately below.

email message 

From: “New York Council on Problem Gambling” <council@nyproblemgambling.org>

Subject: New York’s Responsible Play Partnership Recognizes National Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Date: February 28, 2017 at 12:22:28 PM EST

Reply-To: mhadden@nyproblemgambling.org

nyrpplogo 

New York’s Responsible Play Partnership Recognizes National Problem Gambling Awareness Month

NYS Gaming Commission launches “broadest self-exclusion program in the nation”

Public and private partners undertaking series of efforts, including visiting new casinos and meeting with communities to underscore State’s commitment to responsible gaming practices

New York’s Responsible Play Partnership (RPP) – consisting of the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York State Office on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the New York Council on Problem Gambling – today announced a series of initiatives in recognition of March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

The Commission also launched its statewide self-exclusion program – recognized by a national advocate as “the broadest self-exclusion program in the nation” – for individuals who self-identify as needing help in their battle with problem gambling. It allows problem gamblers to ban themselves from all casinos operating in New York State

The RPP’s plans for March include visiting newly opened casinos to review the operators’ efforts to promote responsible gaming practices, followed by public meetings in the communities hosting the casinos to educate the public on the resources available for those who need help.

The RPP will also foster awareness through a focused social media campaign, conversation-driving signage at all gaming facilities across the State and development of a new public service announcement reminding New Yorkers that the OASAS HOPELINE (1-877-8HOPE-NY/TEXT HOPENY) exists to address all forms of addiction – including gambling. Finally, for the first time ever, the New York Lottery will feature responsible gaming messaging as part of its daily televised drawings.

“The Responsible Play Partnership continues to be an effective tool in forging a comprehensive smart gaming policy in New York State,” said Commission Executive Director Robert Williams. “By engaging all stakeholders involved in the issue – problem gambling treatment providers, casino operators and regulators – and venturing into the community, we are driving focus to the issue and making more resources available for those who need help. The Commission is proud of the RPP’s work, and this month provides a perfect opportunity to highlight New York’s ongoing commitment to responsible gaming.”

“While most people can gamble responsibly, unfortunately, some develop gambling problems,” said OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “The RPP collaboration over the years has made a positive difference in our State, ensuring help is available for problem gambling and providing prevention programs to keep problems from developing. I look forward to more successes to come.”

“We are proud to partner with the Gaming Commission and OASAS to recognize National Problem Gambling Awareness Month,” said NY Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director James Maney. “The initiatives we have undertaken, including producing widely seen public service announcements, developing a comprehensive statewide self-exclusion policy, and bringing together gaming facility operators and the problem gambling treatment community, have indeed made a difference and elevated the issue. The RPP will continue to promote a responsible gaming environment in New York State.”

New York State’s specific plans for National Problem Gambling Awareness Month include the following:

• The RPP will visit each of the newly opened casinos in Tioga County (Tioga Downs), Seneca County (del Lago Resort & Casino) and Schenectady (Rivers Casino & Resort) to meet with facility management, tour the facility and review implementation of each facility’s required responsible gaming plans. In conjunction with these visits, the RPP will hold public meetings in nearby communities to underscore New York’s commitment to promoting responsible gaming, educate the public and community leaders on the resources available in the region, and ensure that persons dealing with problem gambling have access to the help they need. Dates, times and locations for the three events will be announced in the near future.

• The RPP will begin production of the latest in a series of public service announcements to promote a responsible gaming environment in the state. This PSA will promote the OASAS HOPELINE (1-877-8HOPE-NY/TEXT HOPENY) as a critical resource to those battling gambling addiction (in addition to all other forms of addiction). PSAs addressing the overall issue of problem gambling, addressing underage gaming and discouraging giving children lottery tickets as gifts are available in both English and Spanish on the Commission’s YouTube page.

• Messaging and signage promoting the HOPELINE will be displayed at all licensed gaming facilities, including 17,000 Lottery retailers across the State.

• The RPP members (@NYSGamingComm, @NYSOASAS and @NYProbGambling) will coordinate a focused social media campaign to promote awareness of problem gambling

• Signage at all licensed gaming facilities in the state will encouraging New Yorkers to start their own conversation about problem gambling with their families, friends and fellow players.

• For the first time, the New York Lottery’s daily televised drawings will include responsible gaming messaging.

Statewide Self-Exclusion Program

In February, the Commission launched a comprehensive statewide self-exclusion program, described by National Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Keith Whyte as “the broadest self-exclusion program in the nation.”

The statewide policy closes a decades-old regulatory loophole in New York that made it possible for video lottery and casino patrons to voluntarily ban themselves from one gaming property only to continue playing at a neighboring facility unabated.

New York’s new statewide self-exclusion program gives gamblers who recognize they need help the ability to sign a universal self-exclusion contract acknowledging that they elect to ban themselves from participating in all casino gambling, video lottery gaming, off-track pari-mutuel wagering, internet and account wagering and interactive fantasy sports in New York.

Upon signing, problem gamblers willingly acknowledge they face arrest for entering a gaming facility licensed by the Commission. To administer the program, all licensed gaming facilities across the state have access to a secure, Commission-maintained database where information on all self-excluded individuals is housed. The Commission is finalizing plans to extend the state’s self-exclusion program to include Lottery winnings and casinos operated by Native

American Tribes within the State’s borders.

As it has since its inception in 2013, the RPP will continue to work with gaming operators, players, and the problem gambling prevention and treatment communities beyond March, educating the public about the warning signs of problem gambling and raising awareness about the help that is available close to home.

The RPP was formed in February 2013 to address collaboratively problem gambling in New York State. Since then, the RPP has undertaken a series of initiatives, including the State’s first-ever public forum featuring experts and stakeholders from around the world discussing best practices and policies in the era of expanded gaming. To learn more about the RPP’s work, visit here.

Please send any comments about this email to mmilea@nyproblemgambling.org

 

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