Casino plans events for Responsible Gaming WeekWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dining specials, a fundraiser for a local behavioral health nonprofit and special appearances from “Beti,” a character emphasizing safe betting, are among the activities planned for Aug. 4-8 at Hollywood Casino Toledo to mark Responsible Gaming Education Week.
The 17th annual initiative, held the first full week of August, is a program of the American Gaming Association.
Each day will feature a special meal at Scene sports bar, including Winner Winner Ranch Chicken Dinner on Aug. 5 and Know Your Limit Beef Lasagna on Aug. 8, said Brian Hopkins, slot manager at the casino who is leading Toledo’s effort.
The casino will also donate $1 from each Epic Buffet meal purchased on Aug. 4, 7 and 8 to Unison Behavioral Health Group in Toledo.
Beti, a character based off of Progressive Insurance mascot Flo, will emphasize making safe bets. She will appear at the casino, including at the Smokey Robinson concert Aug. 8, as well as at the Wood County Fair on Aug. 4 and the Northwest Ohio Rib-off and Mud Hens game on Aug. 7.
Each year, properties owned by Hollywood Casino Toledo’s parent company Penn National Gaming compete to see who can come up with the most fun promotions while not diminishing the seriousness of the subject, Hopkins said.
Also as part of the week, all casino employees will be retrained to spot warning signs of problem gambling.
“Hollywood Casino Toledo takes responsible gaming very seriously,” Hopkins said. “It’s not just one week of the year; it’s an everyday commitment.”
As stipulated by state law, 2 percent of the tax on Ohio’s gross casino revenue goes to problem gambling resources.
“It was very important to lawmakers that money be set aside to help people who might have a problem,” said Tama Davis, director of communications with Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC).
Scott Anderson, gambling disorder treatment specialist with the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (Ohio MHAS) Bureau of Problem Gambling, has been working with problem gamblers for years.
“Gambling isn’t new to Ohio. It’s only the casinos that are new,” he said.
Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and Hollywood Casino Toledo opened in May 2012. Hollywood Casino Columbus opened in October 2012, followed by Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati in March 2013.
Gambling addiction was recently reclassified by the American Psychiatric Association as a substance-control addiction rather than an impulse-control disorder, Anderson said.
“Gambling addiction is 90 percent the same as any other addiction, but 10 percent very, very different,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t have the component of toxicity. You can’t overdose. If you gamble, gamble, gamble, you won’t pass out or get sick. If I were high or drunk, you would probably be able to tell, but there’s no way to tell that someone lost $10,000 over lunch.
“It’s a pathological relationship with mood-altering experience.”
One resource is the Ohio Problem Gambling Hotline (1-800-589-9966). A total of 16,431 people have called since January 2012, including 10,176 in the past year. From January to June 2014, the hotline received an average of 650 calls per month.
Another resource is the state’s Voluntary Exclusion Program (VEP). More than 1,000 people from 12 states and one Canadian province, including 155 in Lucas County, have voluntarily banned themselves from entering Ohio’s casinos.
More than 85 percent of the 1,032 people currently on the list are from Ohio. As of July 14, there are 879 participants from Ohio, 116 from Michigan, 21 from Kentucky, four from Indiana, three from Ontario, Canada, two from Pennsylvania and one each from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New York and Wisconsin. Twenty-four are from Wood County, four from Fulton County and three from Ottawa County.
The list includes 758 men and 274 women. More than half are 40 or younger, with about a quarter of the applicants 30 or younger.
Thirty-one percent of applicants placed themselves on a lifetime ban list, 22 percent excluded themselves for five years and 47 percent for one year.
To be added to the list, an application must be filled out in person at an OCCC office, located at each of Ohio’s four casinos as well as the agency’s headquarters in Columbus. The list is confidential and only accessible to certain OCCC employees via a secure database, Davis said.
Those on the list are removed from all direct marketing and his or her player card is deactivated. They are also excluded from entering any property operated by Penn National Gaming or Caesars Entertainment Corporation. Penn operates the casinos in Toledo and Columbus while Caesars operates the casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati.
“From a psychological standpoint, the Voluntary Exclusion Program would be a step in taking some self-responsibility during recovery,” Anderson said. “It’s a move in the direction of abstinence, a move to minimize life-damaging consequences.”
Nothing electronic flags a person on the VEP list from entering a casino. They must be recognized by a staff member. However, if they try to cash in a jackpot or use their player card, they will be flagged.
“The downside of it is it’s completely up to the individual to police themselves,” Anderson said. “Unless they run into someone at the casino who knows them or they win a jackpot or use their player card, they would go undetected, so it’s not really foolproof. It’s a voluntary exclusion program with the key word being voluntary.”
Those on the VEP list found at a casino are asked to leave and could be arrested and charged with trespassing.
For the fiscal year ending June 2014, 91 people were charged with criminal trespassing in Ohio’s casinos, 73 of them from the VEP list, Davis said. Thirty-three were at Hollywood Casino Toledo, with 25 of them from the VEP list.
Four state agencies — Ohio MHAS, OCCC, the Ohio Lottery Commission and the Ohio State Racing Commission — make up Ohio for Responsible Gambling, an initiative aimed at promoting responsible gambling in Ohio.
“We were the first state in the country to bring state agencies under one umbrella [to focus on problem gambling prevention],” Davis said. “There is a big concentrated organized push in Ohio under this collaboration to really understand who’s at risk, to target prevention messaging and help make resources available to help any Ohioan who may face a gambling problem.”
“This is something we take very seriously,” Anderson added. “We’ve taken a very proactive approach to it.”
Tags: addiction, American Psychiatric Association, gambling, gambling addiction, Hollywood Casino Toledo, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, impulse-control disorder, OCCC, Ohio Casino Control Commission, Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, Ohio MHAS, Ohio Problem Gambling Hotline, Penn National Gaming, Responsible Gaming Education Week, Tama Davis, ureau of Problem Gambling, VEP, Voluntary Exclusion Program