With the opening of one of the largest casinos in New England last weekend, there are several social welfare agencies that are concerned that the number of problem gamblers will rise.
Massachusetts Legislature Acts
Heeding the warnings from these agencies, the Massachusetts legislature, the General Court, decided to look into the issue. It decided to find a program that would help track and assist problem gamblers before they become overwhelmed by their addictions. The program would help them to maintain their lives and jobs as they were before the MGM Springfield opened its doors.
The new program, called GameSense, will advise gamers of the odds on gambling and help to identify problem behavior before it begins to cause problems for them and the community.
Under Massachusetts law, GameSense must have spaces in each new casino that opens. The state chose to allow GameSense to be its program of operation within its casinos.
GameSense was created and developed in Canada and has been used in other states, such as Illinois. The law in Massachusetts states that all casinos must have mental health counseling services. But, GameSense sees itself as more of a person or group of people who can relate to customers based on their training and experience within the casino world.
Many of the people hired to work in the GameSense office of the casinos are former casino employees. They wanted to remain in the casino, but do not want to work on the casino floor. These new jobs allow GameSense employees to stay involved with the casino and act as counselors and advisors to gamers. The program also has a website if clients would feel more comfortable speaking to them via the Internet.
What Makes GameSense Unique
GameSense came about after psychologists studied the problem behavior of gamblers and found some interesting information. First, problem gamers often have trouble understanding the games found in gambling and what the odds are in terms of their ability to win. Often, problem gamers see gambling as a way to make money to pay for things, rather than as a form of entertainment. Gamblers who see gambling as a financial strategy often go in with a make-or-break mentality, which results in them losing large amounts of money to continue to chase their losses.
The theory behind GameSense is that if the odds, rules, and strategies of the games are explained to the patrons, they are more likely to gamble for entertainment. They will be less likely to gamble for financial gain. Many gamblers come into the casino with a foolproof strategy they feel can beat the house. However, they find that after talking with the GameSense employees they tend to make better choices. They make better decisions about the times they should gamble when they should stop gambling – especially if a machine is not paying out — and when they need to walk away from gambling for a period of time.
In addition, gamblers can benefit from speaking with GameSense employees for other reasons. They may set goals with the help of the employees. For example, the gamer may decide to set spending limits or goals each time he or she comes in to gamble. They may set time limits for themselves on games. For example, if a game has not paid out at the end of an hour, the gamer may decide to switch games. The employees may also convince gamers to come back and see them if they feel they are having trouble sticking to their spending or time goals.
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