As MGM Springfield opens today as Massachusetts’ first full-fledged casino resort, researchers expect a spike in problem gambling rates. The casino plans on addressing the serious issue by relying on GameSense, a responsible gaming program developed by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation in 2009.
The $960 million MGM Springfield is now holding its grand opening ceremony with great festivities planned for the weekend. While there is a lot of excitement and expectations for the economic impact on the state and the local community are high, researchers predict increasing levels of compulsive gambling in Springfield and across the state.
Currently, around 2 percent of all state residents admit they suffer from some gambling issue, including gambling addictions, according to Rachel Volberg, who is a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Based on past studies and statistics, problem gambling is expected to surge after the opening of MGM Springfield. Moreover, the low-income population in the area will be at high risk for developing gambling addiction because of the high unemployment rates, the poverty and violence, says Lisa Brecher, a spokesperson for the Gandara Center in Springfield.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has adopted GameSense, a comprehensive responsible gambling program which offers information and support to gamblers. The Commission requires all casinos to implement the scheme and assist their patrons in adopting healthy, responsible behaviours and attitudes.
The new casino is also offering the program and customers will be consulted by experts to reduce the risk of developing gambling disorders. MGM Resorts Executive Alan M. Feldman commented that while they have always been promoting responsible gambling practices, GameSense is different and impressive. The company has actually become a licensee and is now offering it across its properties, he explains. In February 2017, MGM Resorts International signed an agreement with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, becoming the first company in North America to fully integrate the program across its casinos.
Why Is GameSense Unique?
GameSense was introduced by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which is the gambling regulator in the Canadian Province of British Columbia, in 2009. This is an innovative responsible gambling program, which focuses on the player but rather than simply offering a voluntary self-exclusion scheme, it combines it with various other tools. It encourages players to adopt healthy behaviours such as setting personal time and financial limits to gambling, as well as honesty with one’s own family and friends about gambling habits.
In addition, GameSense includes informing players how exactly odds are stacked against them. Casino patrons also learn about the common myths and misconceptions about playing and winning at different casino games – slots, roulette, poker, baccarat, blackjack, craps, etc. With these tips, the program aims to transform players into better and smarter gamblers who view gambling as a form of entertainment and not a strategy for financial gain.
GameSense Info Centers are located in all casinos across Massachusetts, including in the brand new MGM Springfield. Their offices are open 16 hours a day and 7 days a week and advisors will offer assistance to anyone who needs information or support in battling a gambling addiction.