Massachusetts Addresses Problem Gambling

Massachusetts is home to 8 casinos with more than 12,000 slot and gaming machines, as well as nearly 500 table games. There is a Wynn Boston Harbor Resort, set to open in 2017, that will be the 9th casino, and shortly thereafter, in 2018, the Project First Light Resort and Casino is set to open in Taunton in January. The 11th casino, the MGM Springfield, is scheduled to open the summer of 2018. Massachusetts is growing its casino operations, and along with this growth comes the disturbing byproduct of gambling, which is those that have a problem with gambling. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is taking some additional steps to try to reduce this problem before the next 2 “mega-casinos” open in the next few years.

The Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, signed the Expanded Gaming Act into law just 5 years ago, stating that the authorities in the state would commit to avoiding an increase in the numbers of those suffering from a gambling addiction. A lot of research has taken place in these past 5 years, and the result is a program that will be installed allowing those with a problem to limit what they are going to spend even before they start playing. The program is called “Play My Way.” This kind of system is not currently in use anywhere in the United States, so many have their eyes focused on Massachusetts to see how this pilot program progresses.

There is a much larger movement at play here, however, and this is one small part of what is a much larger, and more comprehensive program designed to eventually see a reduction in the numbers of problem gamblers. There are a number of responsible player initiatives all designed to help players decide when they can gamble, how much they can spend, and when they have reached their self-imposed budgetary limit, to have the discipline to walk away. Plainridge Park, currently the largest casino in Massachusetts, teamed up with Harvard Medical School in creating the “Play My Way” program. This program is scheduled to be up-and-running in Plainridge Park in June of 2016.

The Gaming Act calls for licensed commercial casinos to implement some type of measures designed at helping those who are prone to become addicted to gambling. Massachusetts Gaming Commission is cautiously optimistic that the MGM Springfield, and Project First Light Resort and Casino will both have “Play My Way” operations on premises when the doors open. This program allows players to monitor themselves, set limits to how much gaming they are going to do, and they also come equipped with automatic notifiers to warn players when they are nearing their limits.

There is big money in gambling for the state, with estimates of what the state can stand to earn from expanded gambling operations being in the $300 to $500 million range annually. That is a big number, and although Plainridge Park has not produced as much revenue in its first full-year of operation as was estimated, there is still the potential for great income for Massachusetts in expanding gambling operations and garnering more of that entertainment dollars from customers who currently patronize nearby Connecticut casinos.


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