A message from Chairman Steve Crosby about the anticipated launch of the Play Management Program
In light of recent discussion about the anticipated launch of MGC’s unique new “Play Management” system, I would like to clarify a misperception about delay and discuss our collaborative approach to this responsible gaming strategy, as well as share some of the challenges we have overcome as we near implementation.
Some important background:
The Gaming Commission’s “Play Management” system, called “Play My Way,” is a voluntary electronic system by which slot machine players will have an opportunity to personalize their play by setting a budget before they begin gambling. This budgeting tool will provide players with automatic notifications to help keep track of their spending. No such system is in use anywhere in the United States and there are few similar systems in use anywhere in the world. This pilot program is one tool in a much broader, comprehensive responsible gaming strategy to provide players with a range of information and education so that they can make an informed choices about when to gamble, how much to spend and when to walk away.
“Play My Way” is being custom-designed for use in Massachusetts, both in its technology and its content, working in close collaboration with Bally, Plainridge Park Casino (PPC), the Mass Council on Problem Gambling, and the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance. As the Commission has made clear from the outset, the use of “Play My Way” at Plainridge Park Casino is a test, to see whether we can design a voluntary tool that can have a significant impact on helping people manage their gambling behavior. Although we too are anxious to offer this budgeting tool to patrons, our priority must be to ensure that we develop an efficient system that maximizes uptake, is user-friendly and is helpful to patrons. We will launch it when we have it right.
Throughout this development process, Plainridge Park Casino, beginning with a commitment from its CEO, Tim Wilmot, has been a willing and supportive partner. Penn National, along with our other two licensees, MGM and Wynn Resorts, have broken ranks from traditional operator practices and supported our efforts to find new and effective ways to promote responsible gaming. The delays in launching “Play My Way” are due solely to the efforts of the Gaming Commission and its partners to get this innovative test program right and to assess it with a rigorous evaluation program by the Division on Addiction. Just for the record, Plainridge Park Casino has played no role in the delay of launching this program.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that Massachusetts, pursuant to a firm mandate from the Legislature, has already established a series of unique new initiatives to promote responsible gaming, and has already established a reputation nationwide as progressive innovators in responsible gaming strategies. While our Play Management program is an important responsible gaming tool, it is but one part of the Commission’s much larger commitment to mitigate the potential negative impacts of gaming, much of which is unique to Massachusetts. These unique features include our comprehensive research agenda on the impacts of the introduction of casino gambling; the adoption of a comprehensive GameSense responsible gaming program, which includes a GameSense Info Center, collateral materials and mass market advertising; and the use of GameSense advisors staffing the Plainridge Park Casino. No other jurisdiction in the United States has responsible gaming advisors on the floor of the casino.
Since December 1, our GameSense advisors have had over 4,500 interactions with PPC patrons, lending an entirely new dimension to a responsible gaming program. During the course of these interactions, GameSense Advisors clearly and effectively communicate information and education about responsible gaming to Plainridge customers – 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. To further support GameSense, the Gaming Commission has developed a comprehensive multimedia campaign to introduce targeted audiences to the GameSense brand with a total advertising budget of $200,000.
At our Commission meeting on March 17th, the Commission will view a presentation of the final “Play My Way” branding, technology, and content, and we hope to formally launch the program at Plainridge Park Casino by the end of April.
We will continue to work with our licensees and our partners to design and implement the most comprehensive and effective responsible gaming program in the country.