Responsible gambling expert says problem betting is falling

Professor Bo J. Bernhard

Nearly 100 Sands China team members attended the company’s annual Advanced Responsible Gaming Ambassador training program on Thursday and Friday at Conrad Macao, Cotai Central. This program was organized for team members to become responsible gaming ambassadors with enhanced knowledge of gambling problems and awareness of the importance of responsible gaming.

This is the sixth consecutive year Sands China Ltd. has offered the training. It supplements the company’s wider responsible gaming training, which is received by each of Sands China’s 28,000 plus team members.

The program is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to create responsible gaming in Macau, and is the only one in the city done in coordination with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

A total of 99 team members received certificates issued by UNLV on Friday, after attending one of two training sessions held on September 20 and 21.

The program is delivered by responsible gaming expert Professor Bo J. Bernhard, executive director of the UNLV International Gaming Institute.

“One of the things we are very excited about is now we are starting to study the results and we are finding very positive effects here in Macau,” Bernhard told the Times.

“The problem gambling community if you will the company that helps problem gamblers is growing every year. It’s a terrible existence to have a gambling problem, [but] never has there been a better day for problem gamblers than today. So as somebody who has been coming to Macau for 20 years and working on these programs between six and 10 years, it’s really exciting for me to come and visit every year and see the positive results.”

After completion, the ambassadors are able to provide appropriate assistance to patrons exhibiting signs of problem gambling, and initiate conversations using crisis management and intervention skills.

“I have been coming out here for many years now, going back to the years before Cotai was here, and I’ve been very impressed. Because when I first started coming there was not a problem gambling community, there were no professional treatment clinics that did this work. We were just starting the research work at the University of Macau. For example, now the University of Macau has a big program. Our [Macau] treatment community is very large, in many ways, this is the best time, if you will, to be a problem gambler in Macau, even as painful as it can be,” said Bernhard.

The responsible gaming expert also noted that problem gambling rate in Macau was going down.

“So one of the things that’s very encouraging is that Dr. Davis Fong and his colleagues at University of Macau has found is actually the problem gambling rate in Macau is going down. Now this seems perhaps surprising because the gambling opportunities are growing, but this is actually very normal in a community where you are seeing the science of problem gambling improve, the research and our understanding of problem gambling improve, and also the treatment of problem gamblers is getting better and better and better.”

“So it’s a good thing. It’s good news to learn that the rate of problem gambling has actually gone down since the inception of the expansion of casinos here in Macau,” the professor said.

Bernhard also remarked that it is important to talk about how Macau is primarily a tourist market.

“In general, tourist-oriented casino economies are healthier or better on the problem gambling front than every day local-oriented jurisdiction and gambling markets,” said Bernhard.

Sands China’s Advanced Responsible Gaming Ambassador training program is a global initiative launched by parent company Las Vegas Sands Corp. in 2013.

New elements are integrated each year as part of the company’s efforts to support measures introduced by  Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ).

Nearly 530 team members have completed Responsible Gaming Ambassador training to date, totaling over 3,200 hours of instruction.

Categories Macau