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Las Vegas gamblers, expect to lose. That’s what casinos are saying as part of a new safe-betting campaign

Las Vegas gamblers, expect to lose. That’s what casinos are saying as part of a new safe-betting campaign
At the MGM Grand, a man plays a slot machine beside an electronic sign that's part of the new GameSense campaign. The program encourages responsible gambling. (Jay Jones)

Las Vegas casinos have a message for gamblers willing to blow away their entire paycheck or next month's mortgage payment: Don't do it.

"That is of absolutely no value to us at all," said Alan Feldman, an MGM Resorts executive vice president. "There is no win in that for us. Our business is built on healthy customers enjoying themselves, their ability to afford it and their ability to return."

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Over the last few weeks, MGM Resorts has launched GameSense, a campaign that encourages responsible gambling. The program is featured at the company's 10 hotel-casinos in Vegas, as well as other properties in Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi and New Jersey.

Richard Taylor, MGM Resorts' director of responsible gaming, points to an interactive kiosk in the MGM Grand casino. The kiosk informs people on a variety of gambling-related issues, including what to do if a friend is spending too much money at the tables or slots.
Richard Taylor, MGM Resorts' director of responsible gaming, points to an interactive kiosk in the MGM Grand casino. The kiosk informs people on a variety of gambling-related issues, including what to do if a friend is spending too much money at the tables or slots. (Jay Jones)

"When you go to gamble, you hope to win, but expect to lose," is a catchphrase somewhat surprisingly shared by Richard Taylor, MGM's director of responsible gaming.

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Taylor explained that the educational campaign — players will learn of it during transactions at Mlife players club booths — is designed to demystify the gambling experience and encourage people not to get in over their heads, whether at slot machines or tables.

"Set a budget, set a time limit, and enjoy yourself," Feldman said.

"Once they go through that budget and they've had a great time, it's fine that they walk away and leave," Taylor added. "Hopefully, they'll come back again and have a great time with us."

Gamblers who visit the Mlife booths at MGM Resorts' 10 Las Vegas casinos, including at MGM Grand (pictured), will learn about GameSense, a new program that encourages people to gamble responsibly.
Gamblers who visit the Mlife booths at MGM Resorts' 10 Las Vegas casinos, including at MGM Grand (pictured), will learn about GameSense, a new program that encourages people to gamble responsibly. (Jay Jones)

Guests who visit the players club booths will be made aware of a nearby, interactive kiosk that provides information about various gambling issues. Trained employees can also provide brochures that list useful tips.

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Among them:

"Gambling outcomes are random. Play for fun instead of for the money."

"In the long run, you won't lose if you play with money you can afford to lose."

"Don't bring ATM cards with you to the casino floor. This helps you stick to a budget."

"It's not cool to borrow from friends to gamble."

MGM Resorts is donating $1 million to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to determine the long-term effectiveness of GameSense.

"We're in the first year now, gathering baseline information on how customers and employees think about responsible gambling and what they know about the GameSense program," Brett Abarbanel, director of research at the university's International Gaming Institute, said in an email from Singapore, where she sits on an advisory panel focused on problem gamblers.

"We'll be following up at regular intervals, to see how their [players'] knowledge and attitudes change over time as the program is implemented," she noted.

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Along the Strip, MGM Resorts has casinos at Aria, Bellagio, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Monte Carlo and New York-New York.

Brochures in most casinos direct potential problem gamblers, or their friends or family, to seek help from a 24-hour hotline, (800) 522-4700.

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