MGM host referred “top-tier player” for problem gaming help

Hampden County

As problem gambling awareness month draws to a close, a longtime responsible gaming advisor who works with the Gaming Commission said Massachusetts’s efforts to educate players are working and having an influence on the casino industry.

Amy Gabrilla, a senior advisor with the commission’s GameSense program, told regulators Thursday that a recent interaction with an executive host — whose job is to cater to high-rollers and to cultivate regular players — from MGM Springfield moved her to tears.

She said she recently led a “grueling” training session on responsible gaming and the resources GameSense makes available to all players with MGM Springfield officials, including this particular executive host. Shortly after the session, the executive host referred a client — “definitely a top-tier player,” Gabrilla said — to Gabrilla for assistance with potentially problematic gambling.

“Honestly, I cried,” Gabrilla told the Gaming Commission. “Never in my 22 years in this business would I have ever believed that an executive host — a guy who lives off getting people to play, that’s his business — was willing to drop off one of his best accounts to me because he felt it was the right thing to do.”

The commission adopted GameSense as its “comprehensive responsible gaming strategy” and the program includes information centers in each of the state’s gaming facilities and advisors like Gabrilla whose interventions range from casual conversations about things like betting odds to more in-depth assistance.

Gabrilla said the state’s efforts to promote responsible gaming have rubbed off on staff at MGM Springfield, which opened in August. She said 10 of the last 15 people who have added themselves to the state’s voluntary gaming exclusion list did so after an MGM Springfield staff member referred them to GameSense.

“The fact is that we are now in this space where we’re changing the narrative of responsible gambling in the industry from the inside out,” Gabrilla said. She added, “It blows my mind … It’s something I never thought would happen.”

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