Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Letter of the day | BGLC committed to responsible gaming programmes

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:16 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I read with great interest your letter of the day for February 12, 2020, ‘Gambling: Endemic woes in Jamaica and small developing states’, and it evoked mixed feelings of both concern and confidence.

The writer did quite well to convey her frustration and disappointment with the current level of gambling and gaming activities as our industry continues to expand.

I would like to address some of her concerns and fears as well as establish some level of hope for combating this issue of gambling-related disorders in Jamaica.

RISE PROGRAMMES

1. The programme for Responsible Gaming and The Prevention and Treatment of Gambling Disorders operated by RISE Life Management Services is sponsored by the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), the regulators of gaming.

Jamaica is one of a few countries in the world and the only country in the English-speaking Caribbean that has a responsible gaming programme and employs this model of Regulator Driven Responsible Gaming Initiatives. RISE was honored in September 2019 to present this model at the International Association of Gaming Regulators Annual Conference held in Montego Bay, St James. We have in recent times provided support to other countries within the Caribbean and Africa seeking our expertise as they build out their responsible gaming programmes.

2. While RISE continues to lead the charge of addressing gambling-related issues on behalf of the BGLC, we acknowledge that many of the points of the writer are well made. The effects of any addiction are far-reaching and families that do not have the requisite knowledge and skills will suffer greatly.

With that said, RISE offers counselling and support to not only the person addicted to gambling but also the family members, as addiction is a family disease.

3. We also support gaming lounges in providing a Voluntary Self-Exclusion Programme that allows persons wishing to ban themselves from large gaming venues to do so islandwide. This component isn’t treatment in and of itself but an adjunct to treatment.

4. The issue of underage gambling, especially in this era of the most socially accepted and legalised gambling in Jamaica’s history, has not gone unnoticed. RISE provides underage gambling prevention sensitisation sessions in schools across Jamaica, and over a two-year period (2017-2019) we have engaged with over 40,000 school-based youth islandwide.

Over the past 12 years, Supreme Ventures Ltd has sponsored our underage gambling prevention poster competition which has now evolved into a jingle competition. It is important to have major gaming industry players be good corporate citizens and provide support, especially with regard to youth gambling prevention.

5. Additionally, we provide training in prevention education for guidance counsellors and are in the preparation stages to launch our Treatment and Intervention Guide for working with youth who are engaged in gambling activity. We expect to initiate this programme in April 2020 and believe that it will be a game changer in dealing with youth gambling in general and school-based youth specifically.

NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL

Having said all of that, we at RISE and the BGLC are well aware of all our shortcomings as far as this programme is concerned. The BGLC, I can assure you, is committed to expanding and refining this responsible gaming programme, which involves treatment and prevention components.

We recognise that it is not business as usual, and that it is crucial to develop the programme to keep pace with the evolving gaming industry. This is evidenced by our commitment to engaging in more research as it relates to the industry and its impact, as well as the development of a responsible gaming strategic plan to guide us from 2020-2024.

I thank the writer for further highlighting the need to double or triple our efforts to provide the requisite services for persons and families in need. I go further to invite her to visit RISE with regard to the issue mentioned, as we can provide assistance and support.

As the gaming industry grows so must all of our relevant support services.

RICHARD HENRY

MSc Psychology

Programme Manager

BGLC/RISE Responsible

Gaming Programme