Employee Gambling Casino Gambling Has Grown Term Paper

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Employee Gambling

Casino gambling has grown over the last few decades from a highly specialized, limited activity to a vast, widespread pastime for hundreds of thousands of individuals. While this expansion has created employment opportunities and generated billions of dollars for tax revenue, there are downfalls to the practice that are inherent due to the type of industry. This paper will examine one such possible negative aspect of increased gambling, that of employee gambling problems. This paper will analyze casino employee gambling in terms of frequency, legality, and the problems associated with the practice, including the possibility of addiction. This analysis will show that while casino employee gambling may seem a right to some, the potential negative effects of gambling for casino employees are problematic enough that the practice should not be legal.

First, it is important to understand the scope of gambling as a whole. Prior to 1980, casino gambling was only legal in two areas, those of Nevada, and Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, as other states began to look for ways to increase economic growth, the idea of gambling became more popular to other state legislatures. As a result, by 2004, 29 states had legalized casino gambling, either through riverboat casinos or through land-based casinos (Garrett, 11).

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As a result of this increase, annual gaming revenue has expanded from nearly $9 billion in 1991 to over $40 billion by 2001 (Ader, 6). According to some estimates, this amount is more than Americans spend on theater, sound equipment, cable TV, golf, and CD music combined (Garrett, 9). Overall, this increase has resulted in direct employment for over 354,000 people (American Gaming Association, online).

Term Paper on Employee Gambling Casino Gambling Has Grown Over Assignment

While this certainly sounds positive in terms of revenue and employment, there is a darker side of these statistics that is generally not discussed, that of employee gambling addiction, and other problems associated with casino employee gambling. According to Schaeffer (1999), research shows casino employees have a higher prevalence of pathological gambling behavior than the general adult population (Schaeffer, 375). The director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling reported nearly 10% of hot line calls for gambling problems came from casino employees themselves (Wexler & Wexler, 103).

The problem of compulsive casino employee gambling affects all levels of employees. According to the Council, workers from housekeeping to executives have called for assistance with gambling addiction. The stories of high level problems are vast. In one case, a housekeeper stole items from guests to support her habit. A casino limousine driver called immediately prior to attempting suicide due to gambling debt. In many cases, pit-bosses allowed illegal betting, due to receiving a pay off from the gambler. There were also many stories of divorce, drug and alcohol addiction, and repeated financial problems (Wexler & Wexler, 104).

According to research, employee gambling problems eventually come to affect job performance. Employees with a gambling addiction are often pre-occupied, erratic in performance, inconsiderate to guests, show high levels of borrowing from coworkers, are often absent or tardy, and sometimes resort to theft and embezzlement. Further, such employees may attempt to "fix" the games to pay off loan sharks and to avoid other possible violence against them for money owed (Wexler & Wexler, 104).

It is important to understand, however, there is a large difference between occasional gambling and compulsive gamblers. The DSM-IV has included pathological gambling as a psychiatric problem, with a listing of diagnostic criteria. This includes a preoccupation with gambling, such as reliving past winning experiences. Additionally, the pathological gambler must gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve excitement, has repeated efforts to stop gambling, is restless and irritable, gambles to relieve guilt and anxiety, often returns even after a large loss, and lies to family members and others to conceal the problem. Further, the compulsive gambler often resorts to illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, and embezzlement to continue funding gambling (DSM-IV, 672).

There are several reasons employees working in casinos have a higher rate of gambling problems. The first is simple exposure. Dr. Rob Hunter of the Charter Hospital Gambling Treatment center in Las Vegas estimates that nearly 15% of casino workers have a compulsive gambling problem (Buntain, 40). Hunter also notes that testimony from many experts in the field point to a clear relationship between exposure to gambling and addiction (Buntain, 41). Kevin DeSanctis, president of Trump Plaza, agrees with such concepts. According to DeSanctis:

The problem you encounter when employees start to gamble is that they're too close to it, they're here every day, they see it every day, and it's not good for them. it's good for the employees to go home and forget about gambling for the 16 hours a day that they're not here," (Romano, 3).

DeSanctis notes his own belief stems from his time as vice president of Hilton Hotel and Casinos, where employees were allowed to gamble on the premises. DeSanctis remarks, "There's a real danger here for addiction," (Romano, 4).

Another reason for a possible increase in gambling among casino employees is that of a predisposition to addiction. According to Dr. Howard Shaffer, director of the medical school of Harvard's division of Addiction, casino employees are at higher risk because these employees often have existing addictive behaviors, such as smoking or drinking. For example, according to Shaffer's study, those with existing alcohol addictions have three times the risk for a gambling addiction as those without prior drinking problems. Those with depression are three and a half times more likely to be pathological gamblers. Shaffer states gamblers tend to have other symptoms of problems, such as depression, anxiety and hyperactivity, which may lead them to seek employment at a gambling establishment. While Shaffer notes it is unclear which of the symptoms, those of gambling, alcoholism, smoking, and depression, serve as the catalyst for other problems, it is clear that they are linked. The study, which sampled 4000 casino workers in four different areas, was prompted by previous studies that showed high stress workers such as medical personnel and pharmacists had higher rates of substance abuse, showing a link between high stress and addiction. Shaffer pointed out it was clear that those who gamble would likely be employed by a casino, in an effort to satisfy their addiction. The results of the study showed nearly twice as many casino employees were classified as compulsive gamblers than the general population, and having any other addiction seemed to raise this level considerably (Ferguson, online).

These results are particularly concerning when one considers gambling on Indian reservations. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988 allows Indian tribes to own and operate casinos on reservations. Tribal gaming is now available in 25 states, and generates nearly $13 billion a year in annual revenue (Volberg, 123). This is a positive, since the money can then be spent on improving the lives of those living on the reservation. However, national alcohol statistics show Native Americans have alcohol dependency rates nearly three times the national average (Newhouse, 5A). When examined in light of Shaffer's research, this could easily amount to an even larger potential for problems in casino employee gambling.

It should be noted, however, that although Shaffer's logic is sound, there are casinos that prohibit gambling by employees within the casino in which they work. In Atlantic City, for example, most casinos do not allow employees to gamble, even during their days off, within the casino they work. Recently, the employees of these casinos have been pushing to gain rights to do so, stating the right to gamble is one that should not be denied to them. However, many casino owners disagree. The problem, according to these individuals, is that allowing casino workers such as pit bosses and dealers to gamble within the casino creates both a motive and the opportunity for fraud and possible compulsive gambling problems. Additionally, these critics note, since these individuals would have personal relations with casino patrons, they would be more likely to be open to suggestions of rigging the system (Romano, 3).

Legislators and state regulators, however, are appearing to be more sympathetic to the casino industry, and are considering lifting the ban in many areas. In many states, casinos are now allowed to be open 24-hours a day, and have larger areas for slot machines. Additionally, many casinos have begun to allow employees to gamble, simply because the money they provide would "go to the competition" if they do not, as Roger Gross of the Casino Journal notes. Gross also notes it is only Atlantic City and a few other small areas that currently do not allow gambling of casino employees within the same jurisdiction (Romano, 3).

Arnie Wexler of the Council of Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey also points out that banning employees from gambling in the casino where they work also tends to stop those same individuals from receiving help with their addiction. Many employees agree. In a study at Trump Castle, over 75% of employees gambled, but many felt they… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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