SEATTLE — Though gambling can be a fun hobby for some, for others gambling addiction can lead to physical, emotional, and financial health challenges. Casinos are working to provide problem gambling resources to help protect community members from negative consequences.
“We have an enormous responsibility as operators to understand our impact,” said Kara Fox La-Rose, President and General Manager of ilani Casino. “We take that responsibility very seriously and take a leadership role in our communities to ensure that our impact is positive and productive.”
Washington State Legislator and Gambling Commissioner Rep. Shelley Kloba has worked to ensure there are safeguards at casinos, including age limits, spending limits at machines and tables, and special protections for high-limit rooms.
“This ultimately is something that someone can very quickly get themselves into financial peril or even financial ruin,” Rep. Kloba said. “And it’s not just them. It’s their families.”
Gambling is a highly-regulated industry with guidance from national, state and tribal officials. ilani Casino has programs to train frontline employees on how to recognize individuals with compulsive gambling issues. Those people can then be referred to the state support hotline or mental health providers.
The state of Washington has created a voluntary self-exclusion program where people can sign forms at facilities to be self-excluded from gambling activities. Lawmakers are hoping to expand the program to apply to not only casinos in Washington, but the lottery and casinos in other locations as well.
“The goal is to make it so that a person in that moment of clarity and resolve against their addiction can fill out one form and it can apply across the board,” Rep. Kloba said.
In addition to the state’s resources and hotline, some tribes in Washington have healthcare facilities and trained providers to provide local support.
“I encourage people to pay attention,” Fox La-Rose said. “Be honest with yourself. Set a budget. Know when to stop, and if you need guidance or just aren’t sure how to seek help to navigate through this process, we can help you get there. If you’d like to be anonymous, there’s the hotline as well.”
If you, a family member or friend is seeking help for problem gambling, you can call or text the hotline at 855-922-1558.