Putting casino entertainment into perspective

2013-06-21T00:00:00Z Putting casino entertainment into perspectiveJohn G. Brokopp Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Are casino outings for gambling or entertainment? The casino industry's spin is entertainment, which in a broad sense is credible when you factor in dining, recreation, shopping and shows.

Gambling, however, is what drives the casino industry. For a vast majority of gaming enthusiasts, this component is entertainment as well. Many people derive pleasure from spending that portion of their income set aside for recreational pursuits on casino games.

All leisure pursuits cost more money these days. Professional sporting events, restaurants, concerts, the theater, cinema, amusement parks, overnight getaways, even a golf outing once or twice a week, represent significant monetary investment.

Casino-goers can budget as much money for a gaming session as many other activities and obtain the desired result: fun, adventure and escapism. It's what they chose to do. There's even the unique bonus of possibly winning some cash.

As is the case with many other things that people do, gambling can also be a problem. It can become an addiction for some, a derisive force, and that's when a casino outing is no longer entertainment.

The casino industry is held responsible for making sure that people for whom gambling is no longer fun can get help.

"Responsible Gaming Week" has been celebrated by casinos around the country to create awareness among the public and to reinforce company goals and programs among employees. The events are held in partnership with the American Gaming Association.

Many casino employees are specially trained "responsible gaming ambassadors" to whom guests of the property can go for advice.

If a customer shows signs, or makes a direct statement, that they need help, casino representatives can meet with them and get involved. They can provide options, education, and brochures. Problem gamblers can even be prohibited from cashing checks and can be restricted from receiving (promotional) mail.

Casino operators look upon their properties as entertainment facilities not unlike a movie theater or a golf course, with the difference being that every piece of signage, direct mail and advertising has information about where help can be obtained.

Much information and statistics on addictions, including problem gambling, is available through the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Knowing that the word "gambling" often is associated with being a vice, the casino industry has worked hard and rather successfully to replace it with "gaming", which today also references the video games that people play, which, by the way, have nothing whatsoever to do with gambling.

Gambling or gaming, casino entertainment is enjoyed by more Americans than at any time in our nation's history. It remains fun for most, a problem for some, but no one can say the casino industry doesn't take a proactive stance in warning people about the danger signs and pointing them in the right direction should they require help.

The opinions expressed are solely the writer's. Reach him at jbrokopp@comcast.net. John Brokopp's Beat the Odds tips air Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM Newsradio 780.

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