A recent Star article (9/12, “Schools could get lesson plans that teach math, risks of gambling”) did an excellent job of highlighting a proposed new classroom program to teach the mathematics and risks of gambling, and in summarizing the accomplishments of the National Center for Responsible Gaming.
The article also mentioned a new employee training program (EMERGE) developed by Harvard Medical School. There are some key points made in the article that require clarification.
The EMERGE training program provides employees with a comprehensive introduction to how gambling can become an addiction, their company’s responsible gaming program and how to respond to requests for information. Such training does not mean employees should try to identify problem gamblers.
In fact, the training discourages employees from approaching customers who appear to have a gambling problem, as research has shown even highly trained health professionals have difficulty identifying problem gamblers.
The training does, however, play an important role critical for employees’ own health. A Harvard Medical School study showed that casino employees have a slightly higher rate of problems with gambling, drinking and smoking than the general population. Although most will never develop a gambling disorder, better understanding addiction may help those employees.
Executive director, Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders Division on Addictions
Cambridge Health Alliance, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School