Iowa casinos participating in Responsible Gaming Education Week

(KMAland) — Iowa’s 19 state-regulated commercial casinos are making an effort this week to educate customers on responsible gaming.

The 18th annual Responsible Gaming Education Week allows casinos to place extra emphasis on making sure patrons are well-versed in responsible gaming. Iowa Gaming Association President and CEO Wes Ehrecke says the week is great opportunity for casinos to reach out to the public.

“Our 19 commercial casinos with their staff focus on heightening awareness that going to a casino should be for the fun and entertainment that’s it intended to be,” said Ehrecke. “Well over 98 percent of people — research continues to show — can indeed do so. Bet with your head and not over it are things we try to emphasize.”

A big part of Responsible Gaming Education Week involves changes to voluntary self-exclusions from casinos. Ehrecke says voluntary exclusions were first presented in 2004.

“Something that was put in place about 13 years ago was for someone that wanted to exclude themselves, it was for life,” said Ehrecke. “They could voluntarily sign up that they would be banned from the casino and if they came back, they would be arrested for trespassing and forfeit their winnings.”

This past legislative session, legislators modified the self-exclusion program to include a five-year ban option.

“If they have been on exclusion for at least five years, they can request to come back and be reinstated,” said Ehrecke. “They need to do that through the racing and gaming commission. On our website at it describes that a little more. Going forward, the new legislation gives the option of five years versus a lifetime.”

The legislation also allows those in the self-exclusion program to be present in a casino, just not on the gaming floor. Ehrecke says Iowa is ahead-of-the-curve when it comes to responsible gaming education.

“We’ve been at the forefront for well over 14 years for not only the funding for our 800-Bets-off help line, doing proactive treatment and awareness and prevention,” said Ehrecke. “We are continuing to educate that these are premier entertainment destinations and we are finding ways to keep things fun. We’ve collaborated closely with the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program and working with the gambling treatment providers to have a good partnership.”

Casinos participating in Responsible Gaming Education Week include Ameristar Casino Hotel, Harrah’s Casino & Hotel and Horseshoe Casino — all in Council Bluffs — as well as 16 others around the state.

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