By Chad Nation, Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 10:41 AM CDT
Daily Nonpareil/Nonpareil Online
The three Council Bluffs casinos joined forces Monday to kick off Responsible Gaming Education Week.
Ameristar Casino Hotel, Harrah’s Council Bluffs Casino & Hotel and Horseshoe Casino have participated in Responsible Gaming Week since its inception by the American Gaming Association in 1998.
Employees from all three casinos and local gambling treatment providers assembled at Harrah’s Monday to accept a proclamation from Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan.
Council Bluffs Finance Director Art Hill read Hanafan’s proclamation and commended the employees for promoting responsible gambling.
“We want to thank the employees of the casinos and the executives for all you do to promote responsible gaming,” Hill said.
Jane Bell, director of governmental affairs at Ameristar, said Ameristar would focus on this year’s theme, “Taking the Mystery Out of the Slot Machine,” by correcting misconceptions about the games and hosting activities to dispel common myths.
“We are proud promote responsible play and to participate in Responsible Gaming Education Week. It is a great opportunity to educate the community about gaming disorders,” she said.
Jeff Graber, director of surveillance at Harrah’s and Responsible Gaming chairperson, said the gaming community in Council Bluffs is fortunate to have a good relationship with treatment providers for gambling addiction.
“It is important to have a relationship and partnership with treatment providers,” he said. “We have a common cause, and we’re proud to be close to those who can provide help.”
Graber said part of being a “strong community citizen” as a casino is providing assistance for problem gambling.
“Assistance is needed for a select group – between 1 and 4 percent – and when that instance arises we have somewhere to direct them,” he said.
Mary O’Neill, program director for gambling treatment at Heartland Family Services, said the number one source for referrals for treatment comes from the casinos themselves.
Graber said while employees cannot catch every problem gambler, they are trained to recognize signs that would indicate someone “is having a bad time.”
“Our corporate philosophy is that we want our customers to have fun. If they are not having fun or can’t set limits, we don’t need their business,” he said.
Graber said Harrah’s would use the week to continue ongoing communications with employees about not only problem gaming but also underage gaming and responsible alcohol service.
“It is a special week, but it also reinforces what we want our employees to do every week,” he added.