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Can Gaming Employees Identify Gambling Problems in their Customers?

by: NCRG Staff | Sep 7, 2011

Is it possible for gaming floor employees to tell the difference between their patrons who gamble responsibly and those who have a gambling disorder? A recently published Australian study that was featured in the August 10 edition of The WAGER observed that while there are visible indicators of gambling problems (e.g. gambling for long periods of time, using ATMs, placing high risk bets and avoiding social contact), gaming venue staff are not very accurate in their estimation of who has a gambling problem and who does not (Delfabbro, Osborn, Nevile, Skelt, & McMillen, 2007; Schellinck & Schrans, 2004 and Delfabbro, Borgas, & King, 2011). Visible indicators (e.g.  gambling for long periods of time, using ATMs, placing high risk bets and avoiding social contact) may not be the most reliable form of identifying problematic gambling behavior (Delfabbro, Osborn, Nevile, Skelt, & McMillen, 2007; Schellinck & Schrans, 2004). Future research is needed to lead to better employee training that will help identify problematic gambling.

The researchers conducted a survey using the Problem Gambling Severity Index among 303 patrons in seven South Australian gambling venues and found that 40 percent were not at risk for problem gambling, 29 percent were at low risk, 22 percent were at moderate risk and 9 percent were classified as problem gamblers. However, when the venue staff rated the problem gambling status of the patrons they recognized (i.e., patrons they had seen at least once or twice in their venue), they reported the following when observing this sample:

 

-  Trained employees made false negative ratings (i.e., believing that the patron was not a problem gambler when survey results showed that he/she was) for individuals who identified themselves as having problems (i.e., 64 percent).

-  False negative ratings among trained employees were even higher when indicating those who self- identified as having low or moderate problems (i.e., 83 percent).

-  Trained employees made a number of false positive ratings (i.e., believing that the patron was a problem gambler when survey results did not indicate that result) for individuals who identified themselves as being problem-free (i.e., 6 percent).

 

According to The WAGER, “the results indicate that staff ratings were not a reliable indicator of gambling disorders among patrons. It is unclear whether these low ratings are the result of the training, or the difficulty of completing this task in real-time.”

 

References

 

Brick, J., & Erickson, C. K. (2009). Intoxication is not always visible: An unrecognized prevention challenge. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 33(9), 1489–1507. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.00979.x

Delfabbro, P., Borgas, M., & King, D. (2011). Venue staff knowledge of their patrons’ gambling and problem gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, Online First. doi: 10.1007/s10899-011-9252-2

Delfabbro, P., Osborn, A., Nevile, M., Skelt, & McMillen, J. (2007). Identifying Problem Gamblers in Gaming Venues: Final Report. Melbourne, AU: Gambling Research Australia.

Schellinck, T., & Schrans, T. (2004). Identifying problem gamblers at the gambling venue: Finding combinations of high confident. Gambling Research, 16(1), 8-24.

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