HISTORY ABOUT GAMBLING ADDICTION

HISTORY ABOUT GAMBLING ADDICTION

In 1979 Dr. Robert Custer started the National Foundation for Study of Pathological Gambling. He invited Sheila and me to join him. He thought he was going to raise enough money to cover the entire cost of treatment for any gambler who wanted treatment for gambling addiction. We were invited to Las Vegas by Steve Wynn — the only person in the gambling industry back then who would even say the word gambling addiction. We also put him on the board of the NFSTPG. We spent one week meeting with a lot of the top people in Nevada. Our efforts resulted in a check for $10,000 from Wynn. After we returned, we held similar meetings with top executives in Atlantic City, but no one would give us a nickel. We had an addicted gambler in New Jersey who was arrested and was admitted to a pre-trial intervention program. As part of the program he was required to perform a number of hours of community service which he did and funded the NFSTPG. He stayed for about a year until his participation in the pre-trial intervention program ended. And that was the end of Dr. Custer’s dream

In the mid-1980’s, when I was the Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Alyce Parker and other officials from Harrah’s met with me to talk about compulsive gambling addiction. They

told me they were interested in posting signs in their casino in Atlantic City to alert customers that help was available for problem gamblers. The CCGNJ had already started a hotline for gamblers in New Jersey — 800 GAMBLER — which actually was available to callers around the country. Harrah’s wanted to post the hotline number in its Atlantic City Casino – something no other casino in the world was doing at that time.

Ironically, just a few weeks before it was going to go up in Harrah’ I got a call to meet with Steve Norton who was executive vice president at Resorts International Inc. which owned one of the casinos in Atlantic City. When we met, he had signs made up saying if you or someone you know has a gambling problem call the CCGNJ hotline 800 GAMBLER. He asked if we would have any objection if Resorts put those signs up. I told him I had no objection and thanked him. The signs went up that day.

A few years later I went to see Chuck Hardwick who was then the Spealer of the New Jersey Assembly. The casino industry was pushing for some piece of legislation, so I got Hardwick to add an amendment that required a line on any casino related advertisement: “if you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help call 1-800 GAMBLER.” It passed and now you see the hotline number posted all over the place, on billboards, in magazines and newspapers and other signs all over the country in casinos..

I think it was early or mid 1990’s that the American Gaming Association was formed. A couple of years later, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission was created. From my memeory, it was shortly after that when we started to hear the words and ideas about Responsible Gaming Programs.

Arnie Wexler CCGC

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One Response to “HISTORY ABOUT GAMBLING ADDICTION”

  1. Tom Tucker says:

    Dear Arnie:

    Great website and you’re correct. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission was formed and went around the country in 1998 and their report was released in 1999.

    Keep up the fine work.

    Tom Tucker

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