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Harm Minimization Training, Knowledge, and Behaviour of Canadian Casino Employees


Casino employees regularly interact with problem and at-risk gamblers and thus have considerable potential to both prevent and reduce gambling-related harm. While harm minimization (HM) and responsible gambling (RG) are routinely espoused by the casino industry, the actual level of employee HM/RG training, knowledge, and behaviour is unknown. The present study investigated this issue in the Canadian context by examining employee surveys collected by the RG Check accreditation program (8,262 surveys from 78 Canadian casinos/racinos collected between 2011 and 2020). These surveys revealed that almost all casino employees receive HM/RG training, but the amount of training tends to be quite limited (one hour) except for supervisors, managers, and security personnel. Basic HM/RG knowledge among all employees appears adequate, although their understanding of probability is incomplete. The most important consideration is whether this training and knowledge translates into meaningful HM/RG behaviour towards patrons. The large majority of employees (83.1%) report engaging in at least one HM/RG interaction with a patron at some point during the course of their employment (median length of 4 to 9 years), with security personnel reporting the highest rates. However, the frequency, nature, and impact of these interactions is unknown.

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  1. RGC is a Toronto, Ontario based organization formed in 1983 whose stated goal is the prevention of problem gambling. The RGC receives its funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), and from the various products and services it sells (including its accreditation services).

  2. The frequent referrals to security have to do with the fact that security personnel (a) are mobile and in the best position to take people to appropriate people/resources compared to staff who need to attend to their station; (b) typically receive additional RG training specific to interacting with distressed patrons; (c) are the usual patron contact point for entering into a self-exclusion agreement; and (d) regularly liaise with police for security issues, so are also a natural contact point for the police if the patron is potentially suicidal and needs to be taken to a hospital for assessment.

  3. Harrigan & Dixon (2009) established that the average likelihood of any type of win on a single spin of 23 different slot machines used in Canada ranged from 4.9 to 16.7% depending on the machine. If we assume an average win rate of 10%, then the probability of losing on both machines is 90% x 90% = 81.0%. Thus, the probability of winning on at least one of the two machines is 19.0%, which, although not exactly double, is very close to it. If ‘winning’ refers to winning the jackpot, then the person is essentially correct. Although slot jackpot odds.

    vary considerably, 1 out of 1,000,000 is a reasonable median figure. Thus, the odds of not winning the jackpot on both machines is 99.9999% x 99.9999% = 99.9998000001%. Thus, the odds of winning the jackpot on either machine has increased to 0.000001999999%, or 1.999999 out of a million.


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Appendix A

RG Check-Staff Survey (January 2019)

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Christensen, D.R., Nicoll, F., Williams, R.J. et al. Harm Minimization Training, Knowledge, and Behaviour of Canadian Casino Employees. J Gambl Stud (2022).

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