By Sara Slane
Special to the Reporter
It’s an exciting time to be a gaming enthusiast in Massachusetts. Plainridge Park continues to thrive, MGM Springfield is set to open in just a few weeks, Encore Boston Harbor’s construction is rapidly progressing, and the doors are now open for the state Legislature to legalize sports betting. Fans of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics – the whole of New England – could soon have more ways to enjoy gaming responsibly.
At the American Gaming Association (AGA), we have always taken our duty to promote responsible gaming seriously. When the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in May, we recognized that more people than ever could soon enjoy more gaming opportunities. As such, we are making it a priority to ensure that everyone – seasoned participants and new bettors alike – is aware of how to bet responsibly.
To that end, we’ve updated our Code of Conduct on Responsible Gaming to make it more relevant to sports betting. And this week today in Boston we hosted a roundtable event to elevate the discussion as part of our annual Responsible Gaming Education Week. Earlier this year, AGA brought together renowned thought leaders, stakeholders, and academics to form a new Responsible Gaming Collaborative designed to identify the programs and policies that best address responsible gaming issues.
Specifically, the Collaborative, which includes Boston-based experts from Harvard Medical School and the National Center for Responsible Gaming, is committed to holding governments accountable for proven solutions. It is our hope that this group of diverse stakeholders will produce truly innovative and unique solutions to such an important issue.
The gaming industry is already an active partner with the communities in which we operate, supporting local, small businesses, providing career opportunities and good-paying jobs, and contributing to local non-profits and philanthropic initiatives.
In Massachusetts alone, the industry contributed over $75 million in tax revenue in 2016, which supported local aid, health-care payment reform, transportation infrastructure, and education. Our commitment to the economic prosperity of our communities is matched only by our commitment to ensuring that those living in our communities have access to the resources and education necessary to play responsibly.
Each year, the gaming industry provides local and state governments with an estimated $300 million for responsible gaming research and treatment programs. Our Collaborative will help make sure that governments are appropriately allocating these resources and finding new ways to advance the mission.
There’s so much opportunity for Massachusetts gaming. That’s exactly why the AGA and the Responsible Gaming Collaborative are working together to promote safe, responsible gaming, serving as resources for all New Englanders who choose to responsibly enjoy this mainstream form of entertainment.
Sara Slane is senior vice president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association.