Unicorns Aren’t Real, but the House Advantage Is – UNLV Distinguished Fellow Alan Feldman

How GameSense and the International Gaming Institute Are Making a Difference in Responsible Gaming

Alan Feldman is a Distinguished Fellow in Responsible Gaming at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and today he’s discussing GameSense, a customer-forward program that reminds casino-goers to have a fun, safe, and healthy gaming experience. 

Promoted on slot end cap signs, rotating messages throughout the properties, or at ATMs, some GameSense advertisements feature humorous slogans like “Unicorns aren’t real, but the house advantage is.” The industry doesn’t want people to think that the casino experience is comparable to a game that’s innately competitive or professional; you’re at the casino to have fun, and GameSense aims to remind you of that. 

The Highest Level of Customer Service

Feldman explains that “if in fact as an industry we are committed to the highest level of customer service, then you have to take an expansive view of responsible gaming as a critical component.” GameSense is a responsible gaming program, but it also lends itself to brand and reputation enhancement; over 90 percent of the public values programs like GameSense, and the number of people who expect that a major casino company would have something like it in place is equally high. 

Early feedback from MGM– one of the main companies using GameSense – has been terrific. Since installing the program, MGM reports that the number of people who have taken or read brochures on responsible gaming has doubled. Feldman says that “we’re at an inflection point in the industry where we can begin to see this notion of responsible gaming taking center stage within our customer service culture.”

The Potential for Similar Programs

Because they hope other companies will use the program too, MGM doesn’t have exclusive rights to GameSense. GameSense itself is proprietary, but as its practical and philosophical aspects are rooted in good customer service and common sense, people could potentially develop similar programs. 

The International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is happy to help interested parties develop a similar system. Since Feldman’s arrival, he’s been involved in talks about all of the things the Institute can bring to responsible gaming. The program hopes to soon have a responsible gaming certification program in place, or at the very least include its lessons in the existing hospitality and gaming curricula.

Compliance versus Culture

While it could be marginally useful for casinos to implement GameSense as a means of compliance, ultimately, embedding responsible gaming practices in the entire casino culturemeans that the company has made a true commitment to its customers, proving to them that they’re doing everything possible to ensure they have a good time. 

A sustainable business requires a sustainable customer base, and it’s important to ensure ongoing healthy enjoyment and to prevent people from getting themselves in trouble.

An Industry with a Heart

Feldman isn’t aware of any industry in the world with the ability to deliver as high a level of customer service as they do, and he’s “extremely positive about the future and how responsible gaming as a practice is going to continue to grow in this industry.” The responsible gaming effort is going to disprove those who criticize the industry as predatory or heartless; frankly, those accusations have “never been true.” 

Feldman holds firm that this industry is an outstanding member of the worldwide community. It’s an industry with a heart.


UNLV’s International Gaming InstituteSelf-limiting/self-exclusion gamblingSelf-exclusion by GameSenseBritish Columbia Lottery CorporationGameSense MassachusettsGameSense CanadaGameSense at MGM Resorts

Learn more about episode guest Alan Feldman on his UNLV page or follow him on Twitter.

Listen to Alan’s interview on the NO LINE podcast by clicking here or at iTunes.

Responsible Gaming Education Week

Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW) was created by the AGA in 1998 to increase awareness of problem gambling among gaming industry employees and customers and to promote responsible gaming nationwide.

The AGA and the entire gaming industry realize that education is essential to promoting responsible play and increasing awareness of gambling disorders, and RGEW provides gaming companies with an opportunity to expand on work they do every day educating employees and patrons about the issue.

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