The casino industry's largest lobbying group in the U.S. on Thursday rolled out a new code of conduct with consumer protection measures that it says are meant to promote responsible gambling.
The code of the American Gaming Association calls on casino operators to be more transparent with patrons and provide training to employees. Its announcement in Las Vegas came within months of two high-profile criminal cases that drew attention to the effects of compulsive gambling as authorities believe the perpetrators were problem gamblers.
"(Responsible gaming) is an everyday, year-round responsibility that we have to every player that walks through our doors and onto our casino floors," said Elizabeth Cronan, the association's senior director of gaming policy. "... We appreciate that this is an issue that must be top-of-mind industry-wide for all employees, from those that interact daily with consumers on the gaming floor to the senior executive leadership and the boards of directors."
The new code calls on casino operators to generally explain patrons the odds of winning or losing at various games and to not use advertising that contains claims that gambling activity will guarantee a person's social, financial or personal success. It also includes training requirements for employees on procedures for dealing with underage gambling and other issues.
The industry's longstanding estimate is that between 98 percent and 99 percent of casino patrons gamble responsibly. This year, however, the remaining one to two percent have grabbed attention around the world.
In April, the man who randomly gunned down a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook in the footage talked about having trouble with his girlfriend and losing everything he had to gambling. Two months later, police in the Philippines said the lone suspect behind a deadly attack on a casino and shopping complex in Manila was a heavily indebted Filipino gambling addict.
The association's members, such as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, are expected to commit to the code. On Thursday, Cronan as well as industry representatives and a regulator participated in a panel discussion at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Alan Feldman, MGM's executive vice president of global industry affairs, said the industry over the past two decades has focused on tackling the issue "when the fun stops" — also the name of a problem gambling awareness campaign — but the company is expanding its efforts to address the concerns even before the activity stops being fun and affordable.
"... What we should be doing is having a regular ongoing dialogue with our customers to make sure that what they're doing is safe and fun for them and their families," he said. The company later this year will roll out a new responsible gaming program at its properties in Las Vegas and other states.
The lone regulator on the panel, Nevada Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson, said the next challenge for the industry that fuels the Silver State's economy is the legalization of recreational marijuana. He said existing gambling regulations address impairment from alcohol, but the statutes and regulations are "silent" on marijuana impairment.
"And what happens when persons might be impaired from marijuana intoxication and continue to gamble?" he asked.