For decades, the commercial gaming industry has demonstrated its commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) by creating and implementing hundreds of programs designed to engage employees and better local communities. Long before CSR became a cause de rigueur, many industry operators instituted environmentally friendly policies and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to charity, and their employees donated many hours of their time through volunteerism.
In March, the American Gaming Association launched the year-long “All In” campaign to highlight the significant CSR contributions of commercial casinos and our employees. Later this month, the campaign will focus on what is perhaps the industry’s most important CSR effort: promoting responsible gaming. No part of CSR directly impacts our businesses more than responsible gaming, which is why we promote guidelines and programs to keep gaming safe and fun for all of our patrons.
All AGA members agree about the importance of promoting responsible gaming practices with patron education and employee training. In fact, these activities have long been bedrocks of our business. This commitment is embodied in the AGA Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming, which was created almost a decade ago to standardize an industry-wide approach to responsible gaming across all of our member companies. The code has become the benchmark all companies follow, and is an example for responsible gaming programs around the world. Most importantly, it codifies the industry’s steadfast commitment to vigorously promote responsible gaming.
As evidenced by the code, gaming companies think about this issue 365 days a year, but every year, the industry sets aside one week during which we place special emphasis on our continued efforts to promote responsible gaming. This year, the 15th annual Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW) runs from July 30 to August 3, and will focus on ways individuals and communities can foster responsible gaming habits. This year, the theme for RGEW is “All In for Responsible Gaming,” and it asks employees to think about their personal relationships with responsible gaming, because it is an issue that affects the way individuals make decisions, play the games and enjoy our product.
For employees, this personal connection can go even deeper. Responsible gaming is an issue that is integral to their jobs, and gaming companies spend a great deal of time and resources making sure they understand the issue and its importance. As part of this year’s RGEW, the AGA is sponsoring a contest where employees are encouraged to consider what responsible gaming means to them, and then produce a short video, write an essay or design a poster. The best entries will be featured on the AGA’s website and shared across our social media channels.
We hope this will be an opportunity for employees to be more thoughtful about the issue and consider how it affects their lives, while also providing an outlet for their creativity.
While responsible gaming may be an issue that means a great deal to individuals, it is just as much a community issue. Educating employees is an important aspect of the industry’s responsible gaming efforts, but it is just as vital to teach others in gaming communities and elsewhere about how to make responsible decisions while gambling. This is why the AGA is working with business and community leaders to ensure that conversations about responsible gaming are taking place outside, as well as inside casino walls.
One way we are doing this is by working with its affiliated charity, the National Center for Responsible Gaming, to create a guide to educate human resource and employee assistance (EA) professionals on the resources and tools available to assist those with gambling disorders. The guide was developed in conjunction with addiction experts and HR and EA professionals, and is based on the latest research on gambling disorders published in peer-reviewed journals. With this guide, employers can better understand the signs of a problem and help connect their employees with the resources they need.
Another goal of this guide is to bridge the gap between research and practice, equipping HR and EA professionals with the tools to help employees who have a gambling problem. For HR professionals, it is important to have a solid knowledge and awareness of how the issue can impact individuals in their workplace, and they should be equipped with resources to refer concerned employees. Because EA professionals are often counseling and referring employees to seek additional treatment for their mental health, it is vital for them to understand the screens, assessments and resources to use.
This new resource joins a suite of AGA and NCRG-developed educational materials that help teach gaming employees, patrons and the general public about the importance of responsible gaming and how they can make informed decisions about their gambling activities. One of the goals of these resources is to make gaming more transparent and debunk the myths that often surround the most popular games. While this is important for casino patrons, it is equally important for others living in gaming jurisdictions.
Responsible gaming education is one of the most important ways that gaming companies act as good corporate citizens, and programs like RGEW and resources like the new guide for HR and EA professionals are just two ways that the AGA is helping gaming companies promote responsible gaming to employees and within communities. All stakeholders—from casino operators to gaming industry employees to local employers—have a role in ensuring that gaming remains what it is meant to be—entertainment. Together, we can make that happen.