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Gaming Guru

 

Help is Available for Problem Gamblers

22 January 2003

The gaming industry as well as state officials have always acknowledged that although the vast majority of people enjoy gaming as an entertainment option, a small percentage are unable to gamble responsibly. When drafting Michigans gaming laws and regulations, State of Michigan lawmakers took the issue of compulsive gaming seriously. The Michigan Compulsive Gaming Prevention Act, passed in 1997, created the Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund and specified that revenues shall be deposited into the fund from: 1) the three Detroit casinos; 2) the Michigan Lottery and 3) the Michigan Horse Racing Industry. The Fund receives approximately $2.2 million in revenues annually. In accordance with the Compulsive Gaming Prevention Act, the Michigan Department of Community Health determines how this Fund may be used.

On January 1, 2003 Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Janet Olszewski, of Williamston, as the new Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). Mark Kielhorn of the MDCH is in charge of assisting Mrs. Olszewski with overseeing the Compulsive Gambling Prevention Fund. The MDCH reported that Michigan residents spent over $5 billion on legal forms of gambling in 2002.

In recent years the MDCH has implemented programs to assist Michigan residents who suffer from compulsive gambling. There is a 24-hour toll-free confidential helpline, 1-800-270-7117, for people to call if they or someone they know has a gambling problem. A Detroit-based crisis intervention organization answers the helpline calls, coordinates the initial consultations with qualified counselors and oversees ongoing treatment of clients when necessary.

The Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline 800 number appears on all lottery tickets, lottery, casino and horse racing advertisements and billboards are located throughout the state promoting the 800 number. In addition, the number is promoted via radio and television advertisements.

The MDCH has also supplied new brochures, wallet cards and church bulletin inserts which address compulsive gambling issues and includes the Gamblers Anonymous Twenty Questions. Various billboards in vicinity of the Detroit casinos also alert drivers to the dangers of compulsive gambling and urge people to call the helpline if they have a problem.

The MDCH has worked closely with Detroit casinos, which pay the lions share to the prevention fund, to promote the awareness of compulsive gambling. Michigan legislation includes a provision requiring compulsive gambling signage to be placed in specific locations throughout the Detroit casinos. Many Detroit casinos have gone above and beyond the requirements of the law and placed large plaque-style compulsive gambling signs in key locations throughout their casino.

There are two MDCH web sites dedicated to compulsive gambling: www.michigan.gov/mdch, which is the main site, and www.teengambler.com, which targets younger gamblers.

There are other resources available concerning compulsive gambling aside from the information provided by the MDCH:

- Michigan Council on Problem Gambling - http://www.ncpgambling.org/michigan.html

- National Center for Responsible Gaming - www.ncrg.org

- National Council on Problem Gambling - www.ncpgambling.org

- American Gaming Association - www.americangaming.org

If you, or a family member, have a problem, help is available for the asking. Gaming is supposed to be a fun, recreational activity, and for the vast majority of gaming patrons that is what it is. For the few who develop a problem, the good news is that treatment works - so get help if you need it.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com