New Technology Helps Problem Gamblers Help Themselves


With the recent tragic events in Detroit, a great deal of attention has appropriately turned to Michigan’s problem and compulsive gamblers.

Much effort is being put forth in Michigan to ensure that problem and compulsive gamblers are able to get the help they need to beat their addiction. Michigan’s Department of Community Health has already established a toll-free help line (1-800-270-7117) and several web sites and has created a number of excellent print resources. Each of the Detroit casinos, as well as the Michigan Lottery and the horse racing industry, publicize this number through signage and other means. These efforts are designed to educate the public of the available resources, as well as to remind gamblers themselves that help is out there for the asking.

Technology plays a major role in the gaming industry, as it does in most other parts of our lives. New slot machines and table games are being developed almost daily to offer constant variety and keep things interesting and entertaining for casino patrons. Advanced systems have been implemented for tracking players, and most casinos now offer a Frequent Players Card, which allows patrons to swipe a card or otherwise electronically register their play in order to take advantage of casino comps and special events. One major gaming industry company is using technology in a unique way to combat problem gambling. Global Cash Access (GCA) has developed a network of cash access devices for use in gaming facilities around the world. They provide ATM services, credit and debit cash access, and money transfers. Last year, with the National Center for Problem Gambling, the Responsible Gaming Partnership, designed to urge casino patrons to be responsible when accessing funds for gaming purposes, was launched. The Responsible Gaming Partnership includes printed materials for casino employees and patrons, and educational events for casino employees to help them identify problem or underage gamblers, as well as educate them on intervention strategies.

Now the partnership has taken the process one step further in designing STEP (the Self Transaction Exclusion Program). This program allows problem or at-risk gamblers to register with GCA’s network and exclude themselves from being able to access cash or perform fund transfers at casinos using the system (including Detroit’s MotorCity Casino). This helps to ensure that gamblers play only with the money they have brought with them and helps to enforce their set limits for play, a major aspect of gambling responsibly.