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The second largest casino corporation in the world announced it will implement BCLC’s GameSense responsible gaming program (of its own volition) at all MGM casinos nationwide within the year.
In addition to bringing GameSense to all of its properties, MGM will contribute $1 million over five years to help fund a joint research project among BCLC, MGM, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute (UNLV IGI).
According to a statement, the project is designed to “enhance GameSense and all responsible gambling products based on new, data-driven, scientifically-based expertise in responsible gambling.”
This is a bold move by MGM, and one other casinos may embrace.
“MGM is excited to adopt the GameSense platform and to form this dynamic research enterprise,” said MGM Resorts International Executive Vice President of Global Industry Affairs Alan Feldman. “Our vision for GameSense is to transform the guest experience at our properties by providing a program that is rooted in enhanced customer service, player education, and leading research.”
BCLC President and CEO Jim Lightbody praised MGM for the decision:
“We believe it’s our role to take the lead in providing better responsible gambling programming that supports our players, helps reduce harm and strengthens the gaming industry as a whole.
We are thrilled MGM Resorts recognizes the value of our GameSense program, and wants to align with us to further the positive role it can play in reducing gambling-related harm.”
The announcement by MGM and BCLC came during the fifth annual New Horizons in Responsible Gambling Conference in Vancouver, B.C. While it marks the first time a commercial gaming company in the US has voluntarily adopted this type of responsible gaming program, it’s not the first time the GameSense program has appeared in the country.
Historically, casinos have been skeptical of programs like GameSense, but after a successful pilot program in Massachusetts they’re now starting to embrace them.
Massachusetts requires all of its casino operators to use GameSense (and a pre-commitment program known as PlayMyWay).
The GameSense program is already in place at the state’s Plainridge Park Casino, the first US casino to use it. The program is also employed by the Connecticut Lottery and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
MGM has likely been keeping a close eye on how the GameSense program has been received by visitors at Plainridge Park, considering the MGM Springfield Casino will be opening its doors in September 2018. It will also be required to use GameSense.
What MGM has likely seen is the light touch GameSense uses, as well as the positive perception of GameSense from casino patrons.
According to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s annual report, 87.7 percent of survey respondents said their primary concern was resolved by visiting a GameSense Info Center or speaking with a GameSense advisor.
A further 82 percent of survey respondents said they would visit the GameSense Info Center again.
Furthermore, the industry as a whole is becoming more in tune with responsible gaming as a policy, rather than viewing it as a handcuff.
Forward-thinking companies have come to the conclusion that embracing responsible gaming policies — and in doing so attracting the right type of customer — is good for business.
Casino revenue is increasingly coming from non-gaming areas. The new attitude toward the casino floor (from both operators and regulators) is to ensure it’s an entertainment option, not a haven for problem gamblers.
As Penn National’s Jay Snowden said during the keynote address of the 2016 NCLGS Summer Meeting, problem gamblers aren’t the type of customer Penn National (and the industry writ large) is trying to attract.
Or, as MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby put it, from a regulatory point of view, programs like GameSense are “a calculated risk” designed to push the casinos to look beyond gambling.
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