At the heart of our company’s commitment to encouraging responsible gaming is our industry-leading Responsible Gaming Ambassador. A key component of our commitment, the program trains Team Members to be experts in offering assistance to anyone experiencing a gambling problem. To close out our observance of Responsible Gaming Education Week, we spoke to some Sands Responsible Gaming Ambassadors about their experiences with the program, who shared their perspectives on the company’s dedication to responsible gaming.
Francesca Comelli is a manager at The Palazzo tower’s Prestige Club, our VIP lounge. A 13-year Sands Team Member, Francesca joined the Responsible Gaming Ambassador program in 2018, inspired by a personal connection to problem gambling. “I wish I knew then what I know now,” she says of the knowledge she has gained through the training. But she has turned lessons from the past into inspiration for helping people in the present: “Since my training, I have, however, been able to assist a friend experiencing a gambling problem.”
That training – consisting of intensive, research-based concepts combined with live role-play of different problem gambling scenarios, helped her see signs she may have otherwise missed, and allowed her to encourage a friend to seek help. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the training,” she says. “Sands does business with ethics and care. We do what’s right, and we lead by example with programs like this.”
Responsible Gaming Ambassador Susan Schaffer agrees. “I love the fact that Sands truly cares about people,” she says. “It’s not just about the money or the bottom line.” Susan, a Sands Team Member since 2006, completed her Responsible Gaming Ambassador training eight years ago. It helped her learn to effectively interact with guests regarding problem gambling. Indeed, Ambassadors are trained to speak to guests one-on-one if a gambling problem is suspected. “It’s not easy for anyone,” she grants. “But it’s something that needs to be done.”
Being trained for these potentially uncomfortable interactions has also taught some of our ambassadors to be more empathetic in other areas of their life, as well. Rich Carlson, a Poker Room manager and Responsible Gaming Ambassador, credits his training with opening the door to understanding hidden struggles others may face. “The experience has helped me become more understanding and sympathetic. As an Ambassador, I’ve been called on to help with guests before, and have provided information, but it’s also taught me to look for ways to help anyone I can, in any situation, rather than waiting for them to come to me.”
These and all our Ambassadors form the core of our company’s dedication to encouraging responsible gaming. Along with directing guests to resources to helpful resources and engaging in one-on-one conversation, they also do their part in communicating the availability of the 24-hour problem gambling helpline, a 24-hour, confidential resources anyone can call to get help with problems related to gambling, or to get information on responsible gaming.
Sands encourages everyone to Have a Game Plan – Play Responsibly. If you or someone you know needs help or information, you can confidentially call the helpline at 800.522.4700.