What you need to know

  • The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is committed to the encouragement of responsible gaming practices through innovations including the GameSense Info Center and PlayMyWay
  • A robust Public Health Trust Fund will fund problem gambling prevention and treatment
  • Extensive research is being undertaken both before and after the advent of casinos to provide scientific data surrounding problem gambling

An innovative approach

The Expanded Gaming Act placed particular emphasis on encouraging responsible gaming and the prevention of problem gambling. The Act uniquely mandated a physical space for responsible gaming support inside all Massachusetts casinos, and directed MGC to pursue innovative and active methods and tools to meet this legislative mandate.The Commission has designed and implemented several highly innovative responsible gaming initiatives aimed at increasing informed player choice.

  • The GameSense Info Center at Plainridge Park Casino, staffed by GameSense Advisors from 9:00am to 1:00am every day
  • GameSenseMA.com, a website with tips and tricks to promote responsible gaming practices
  • PlayMyWay is an innovative budget-setting tool. This tool prompts rewards card holders to voluntarily choose a daily, weekly and/or monthly budget to track their spending while at Plainridge Park Casino.

Signs of a gambling problem

Gambling Disorder is behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. It is a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.

A person shows signs of gambling disorder if he/she:

  • Needs to gambling with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired excitement
  • Exhibits restless or irritable behavior when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
  • Is often preoccupied with thoughts about gambling
  • Often gambles when feeling distress
  • Chase’s ones losses/returns another day to get even
  • Lies to conceal the extent of gambling
  • Jeopardizes a significant relationship, job or opportunity because of gambling
  • Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling

While anyone can develop a gambling problem, research conducted in Massachusetts has shown that certain subgroups of the population may be particularly    vulnerable to problem gambling. These include: Veterans, African American/Black, Immigrants, Asians and Hispanics. MGC is taking steps to further assess these additional risks.

Self-Assessment

Are you concerned that about a potential gambling problem? Take the ten-question self-assessment provided by the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Prevalence of problem gambling

Research commissioned by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found a 2.0% prevalence of problem gambling before the advent of casino gaming. The research also found 8.4% of the population was at risk of developing a gambling problem.

Resources in Massachusetts

Massachusetts devotes substantial resources to the prevention of problem gambling and the provision of problem gambling treatment services.

Treatment tools

Massachusetts devotes substantial resources to the prevention of problem gambling and the provision of problem gambling treatment services.

  • Voluntary Self-Exclusion
    This program supports a person’s decision to voluntary bar themselves from any Massachusetts gaming facility for a period of time
  • Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling Helpline
    A 24-hour confidential helpline that can provide counseling and information about self-help meetings and groups. Call 800.426.1234 with specific concerns about gambling.
  • Outpatient Treatment Centers
    The Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services contracts with Outpatient Treatment Centers that are available to all those seeking professional counseling for problem disorders. Counseling is available to anyone concerned about gambling: those who gamble, their families and/or significant others. Treatment is available regardless of insurance coverage.
  • Self-help
    Self-help groups are available to support people experiencing gambling problems, as well as their loved ones.

MGC Responsible Gaming Framework

The Responsible Gaming Framework is intended to inform gaming regulation in Massachusetts and provide an overall orientation to responsible gaming practice and policy adopted by the MGC and gaming licensees.  The framework is not designed to function as a regulation, but to guide the Commission’s decisions as it promulgates regulation.

The Responsible Gaming Framework is based on the commitment by the MGC and its licensees to the guiding value of ethical and responsible behavior.

The Responsible Gaming Framework provides an approach through which licensees can ensure their general gaming practices are consistent with the Commission’s expectations that gaming in the Commonwealth will be conducted in a manner to minimize harm.

The MGC Responsible Gaming Framework supports the implementation of the expanded gaming law (chapter 194 of the Acts of 2011, M.G.L. chapter 23K, or “the Gaming Act”) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The legislation includes a number of key mandates to ensure the successful implementation of expanded gaming including, protection for host and surrounding communities and mitigation of social impacts and costs.

 

Public Health Trust Fund

The Gaming Act established a Public Health Trust Fund, which will be used to support social service and public health programs dedicated to addressing problem gambling and related issues, including research, prevention and treatment. When fully operational, $15 – $20 million annually, making Massachusetts by far the state devoting the most resources to problem gambling. This includes a comprehensive research agenda that is studying social and economic conditions in and around gaming facilities.

To read about the Research Agenda and find the reporting that has been conducted to date, click here.

The Public Health Trust Fund is administered jointly between the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).

The Public Health Trust Fund Executive Committee adopted a Strategic Plan for Services to Mitigate the Harms Associated with Gambling in Massachusetts. The plan provides detailed strategies to address problem gambling and explores the relationships between problem gambling and other health concerns — laying the groundwork for the development of a strong public health response to those issues most affected by the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts.

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