BANGOR, Maine – No matter how many thousands of patrons walk through the doors of Hollywood Slots in Bangor — still Maine’s only slot machine facility — officials realize that there will always be a percentage at risk for problem gambling.
Throughout the massive slots parlor there are signs warning customers to play responsibly. At all ATMs there are reminders for users not to overextend their bank accounts. All employees are trained to intervene in certain situations and are encouraged to promote gambling-abuse hot lines. The casino also has what’s known as a self-inclusion list, where patrons can voluntarily put their name on a list that denies them entrance into the facility.
While those safety measures go on year-round, for one week every year — this week, in fact — the national American Gaming Association promotes Responsible Gaming Education Week across the country.
“Responsible gaming is something we promote 365 days a year because it’s important to all aspects of our operation,” Hollywood Slots General Manager John Osborne said. “But Responsible Gaming Education Week is a special time when we try and create some engaging events that help remind our employees and members of the public about our ongoing commitment to create an entertaining, safe and rewarding gaming experience for everyone.”
Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway is holding a series of events and activities to help raise awareness of the importance of responsible gambling practices among its guests, employees and members of the community.
Many of the events involve internal employee competitions, including an educational film competition and a billboard competition.
On Monday night, the casino was set to unveil the winning billboard, which plays off the popular Crash Test Dummies television ads.
From 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, the public is invited to view the top three responsible-gambling films that were created by Hollywood Slots employees. The three films are parodies of “Family Guy,” “Star Trek” and “The Shining.”
In addition, marketing materials will be set up all week throughout the casino, including T-shirts, brochures, buttons, stickers, ribbons, posters and table tents.
Jason Birney, director of marketing for Hollywood Slots, said he has worked at gambling facilities in other states and has seen fewer problems in Maine than in those places, although he didn’t have data to back up that observation.
“We have a lot of first-time users and casual gamers, and those aren’t the kind of people who develop problems,” he said.
Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway, owned by Penn National Gaming, draws thousands of patrons every week and generates millions of dollars in revenue. It has operated in Bangor since November 2005 but has been at its permanent location since July 2008.