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March is National Problem Gambling Awareness MONTH
March 2016

Dear Gaming Industry Members:

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month nationally and in Washington State as proclaimed by Governor Inslee. The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC), Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling (ECPG), Recreational Gaming Association (RGA), and Department of Social and Health Services Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) have chosen this month to share exciting news about enhanced responsible gaming initiatives in Washington.

“We believe that problem gambling awareness is part of our obligation to the wellbeing of our communities, employees, customers, and constituents,” said Washington State Gambling Commissioner Julia Patterson.

The gaming industry in Washington has an important role to play. Gaming industry employees are trained to deliver great customer service. They often develop relationships with regular customers and are trained to hear and respond to customer concerns. We believe that responsible gaming is built on that customer service perspective.

For several years, the ECPG has partnered with RGA and member properties across the state to train gaming employees and provide a better understanding of the issues around problem gambling. With feedback from all facets of the gaming industry -- corporate management, supervisors, and frontline employees at Tribal and non-tribal venues-- as well as members of the treatment and recovering communities, these training programs will expand this year to include broader scope of information and enhanced technological platforms, such as online trainings.

“We are in the business to offer our guests great entertainment,” said Victor Mena, COO of Washington Gold Casinos and President of the RGA. “We are not in the business to capitalize on harmful behaviors. We have a strong commitment not only to our customers and to the communities where we do business, but also to our employees. We want to ensure that we are providing a better understanding of the signs of problem gambling, the risks for gaming employees, and our corporate responsibility to address these issues.”

Problem gambling is an important public health concern and we have a great opportunity to heighten awareness and understanding of how it affects individuals, families, and communities through these trainings. Over the next few months, we encourage gaming industry members in Washington to contact ECPG ( to learn more about the enhanced trainings that will be offered and to develop responsible gaming policies that include employee training.

“Most people gamble for recreational purposes and do not suffer from serious problems related to their gambling. However, for some, gambling can become a serious addiction that can be devastating to individuals, families, and communities,” said Dr. Ty Lostutter, of the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington and ECPG Board President. “The Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling is honored to collaborate with WSGC, DBHR, RGA, and Tribal programs to make a difference throughout Washington. There is a continuum from awareness and outreach to treatment and recovery for problem gambling. The gaming industry can play a significant role in this long-term approach.”

Look for information from us about enhanced trainings to be offered later this year and how gaming industry members in Washington can learn more about this important topic.

Commissioner Julia Patterson
Washington State
Gambling Commission
Ty W. Lostutter, Ph.D.
Evergreen Council on
Problem Gambling
Victor Mena, President
Recreational Gaming
Op-ed: Allow nontribal cardrooms to offer electronic scratch-ticket machines.
New revenues from nontribal gaming could go a long way toward closing the state's budget shortfall, writes Dolores A. Chiechi, executive director of the Recreational Gaming Association of Washington.

By Dolores A. Chiechi
Special to The Times

WASHINGTON'S tribal casinos poured jackpot-sized contributions into state political campaigns in 2012 — more than $1 million, according to public-disclosure records.

That comes as no surprise, given the tribal casinos' overwhelming dominance over the state's gaming market, which netted a record $2.7 billion in the 2012 fiscal year. The tribes' share of this market climbed to 79 percent, with more than $2.1 billion in net receipts. Gaming receipts have grown steadily every year since 2000, when the total stood at $863 million, with tribal casinos then garnering a 31.6 percent share worth $273 million.

Tribal receipts are not taxed by state or local governments, and Washington's compact with the tribes does not provide for revenue sharing. All other states with tribal gaming have revenue sharing or provide at least some competitive equity for nontribal operations.

The phenomenal growth of tribal gaming is driven largely by the tribal casinos' exclusive operation of some 23,000 electronic scratch-ticket machines. The tribes have made it clear that maintaining their de facto monopoly on these machines is a top legislative priority for them.

These slot-like machines are immensely popular with gaming patrons, drawing customers away from other gaming venues, such as house-banked cardrooms. House-banked cardrooms, also known as "minicasinos," were authorized by the Legislature in 1997 to allow patrons to play against the house, rather than just against each other.

Last year's proposal by the trade association for nontribal cardrooms, which would raise nearly $400 million a biennium for the state, gained some traction among legislators, but did not garner enough support to move forward.

With our state's projected revenue shortfall of about $2 billion, including the impact of the state Supreme Court mandate regarding education funding, new revenues from gaming could make a significant difference. For example, it could replace the $367 million in fuel-excise taxes, extended in former Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget proposal. Or, it could fund K-12 class-size reductions, full-day kindergarten and professional development for teachers, which together would amount to about $320 million. It could also fund a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for school employees, or roll back 7 to 10 percent in tuition hikes at our higher education institutions.

The money would be generated by allowing nontribal cardrooms to operate a limited number of the same slot-like machines that tribal casinos already have. The proposal would limit machines to the 56 (down from 60 in 2010) existing cardrooms, and would cap the total number of nontribal machines at 7,875 statewide. New entrants into the market would have to operate card games for 5 years before they would qualify for electronic gaming.

This is a responsible proposal that addresses the concerns about proliferation of gambling venues and stands in sharp contrast to the 2004 ballot measure, defeated by voters. That measure, would have made an estimated 18,000 nontribal machines available in a large variety of locations.

Another reason given by opponents is that the state should not rely on gambling revenues because of potential social costs. This contradicts the reality of the state relying on revenues from the lottery, alcohol, tobacco and soon marijuana — all of which entail potential social costs. (For that matter, fast food could also be included in that category.)

The fact is, there is a huge, sustainable, untapped source of revenue in our state's growing gaming market. Granting nontribal cardrooms a limited number of machines is a way to tap into this revenue source without challenging the tribes' success, or renegotiating the state-tribal compact for a revenue-sharing agreement. It will also help to sustain the cardroom industry, which provides more than 6,000 well-paying jobs and millions of dollars in local tax revenues.

Our state needs to take another look at the gaming industry, and the role gaming revenues should play in state finances, especially when it comes to adequately funding education. It is time for a new deal in Olympia that puts the needs of our state and its citizens ahead of the tribal casinos' political clout, fueled by huge campaign contributions.

Dolores A. Chiechi is the executive director of the Recreational Gaming Association of Washington, the trade group for house-banked cardrooms.

Click Here to see the article at Seattle Times.

House Bill 1295 Guts the Powers of the Gambling Commission

House Bill 1295 guts the powers of the Gambling Commission, and returns exclusive authority for operational issues, such as betting limits, type of games allowed, etc. to the Legislature. It's a bad idea. The whole idea behind creating the Gambling Commission was to take such decisions out of the hands of legislators who might be influenced by campaign contributions. Since the bill would not affect tribal gambling operations, which make up nearly 80% of the $ 2.5 billion gaming market in our state, Olympia observers see a tribal push behind this bill to further encumber and limit non-tribal gaming businesses. See more here.

Let your legislator know what you think of this idea, by calling the Legislative hotline 800.562.6000.

PLEASE make your comments respectful, succinct, and factual. Our position must not be inflammatory! We must not lose respectability by making accusations or criticizing the motives of the legislature.

Calculating Tribal Casino Revenues

As per the Washington State Gambling Commission, the estimated tribal revenues it calculates are only for so-called Class III gaming, i.e. Tribal Lottery System (TLS) machines, table games such as Craps, Roulette, and blackjack, Off Track Betting, Keno and Class III poker. These are under the Commission's jurisdiction. Not included are revenues from bingo, electronic bingo Machines (unlimited by the state in numbers), pull tabs, or Class II poker.

The figures are "estimated" because the information is a summary from all the audited financial statements of 22 operating Tribes, and some of the Tribes have a September 30th year end and others have a December 31st year end.

Net gambling receipts in Washington State continue to grow.
2012 figures show $2.67 billion, a 6.7% increase over 2011. Tribal casinos take in $ 2.12 billion, for largest share of the market, now at 79% and growing.

The latest Washington State Gambling Commission figures show a steady increase in net gaming receipts, from $2.51 billion in 2011, to $2.67 billion in 2012, or 6.7 %. Since 2000, when net receipts stood at $863.4 million, these receipts have increased every year.

In that time, tribal casinos have also steadily increased their market share of all gaming activities: From 31 % ($272.6 M) in 2000 to 79% ($2.12 B) this year.

"Clearly, gaming is a growing industry in our state, "says Dolores Chiechi, RGA's Executive Director." It's time to look into ways to help all segments of the market operate on a sustainable basis, while generating much needed revenues for state and local governments."
Click here for a set of charts that illustrate the growth of gambling receipts since 1997.

Board Briefs: Article from ECPG "Insights Newsletter"
Legacy of Commitment
a Chiechi Family Tradition

Dolores Chiechi was already a registered lobbyist when her father, Vito, had a severe stroke on her birthday in 1997. That was six months after Washington's legislature passed housed banking for commercial card rooms. Dolores went to work for her father's company, Chiechi & Associates, and her first role was to help the Recreational Gaming Association with organization and representation.

The following year, Dolores became a charter member of the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling (then Washington State Council on Problem Gambling) Industry Working Group. She was asked to assist with the legislation that created a state-funded program for problem gambling awareness and treatment and, today, is the Chair of the State's Problem Gambling Advisory Committee as well as a member of the ECPG Board.

Because of her many years of hard work on behalf of problem gambling and responsible gaming issues in Washington, Dolores received the Legacy of Commitment award from ECPG this year. Presented by Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen during the Focus on the Future conference in April, the Legacy of Commitment award came as a surprise to Dolores, but not to those of us who have worked closely with her on important issues over the years.

As the Executive Director of the Recreational Gaming Association (RGA), Dolores Chiechi serves and represents non-tribal card room licensees, employees, and the vendors that service the industry. She has been an important spokesperson in the Gaming Industry in support of Responsible Gaming Initiatives and Problem Gambling Awareness.

"Most people who gamble do so for recreation and suffer no problems. However, for a small percentage gambling becomes a serious addiction," Dolores has said. "While the percentage is small, we in the gaming industry have all seen people with this problem. Studies indicate gambling industry employees have an even higher incidence of developing gambling addictions than other populations. As responsible business owners we have a role to play in addressing this issue."

Dolores has taken that role seriously by being a charter member of Washington's Industry Working Group that helped create policy recommendations for the Gaming Industry and helped the Evergreen Council create a Responsible Gaming Training Video for casino and cardroom employees.

She truly walks the talk when she says, "It is up to all of us in the gaming industry to continue to do our part."

Like her father, who was well known for his commitment and service in Washington State, Dolores has never shied away from leadership roles. Besides her role on ECPG's Board and as Chair of the Problem Gambling Advisory Committee, Dolores also served as a Board member and as President of the Washington Society of Association Executives.

When she is not working, Dolores enjoys time with her fiance, family, and friends--particulary if it is on or near the water. She loves boating, jet skiing, clam digging, and fishing with some of her favorite locations being Puget Sound, Lake Cushman, Lake Kachees, and Ocean Shores; as well as traveling to Belize, Hawaii, and Palau.

And, when family is involved, Dolores can often count on a big crowd. She is the ninth of 9 children and counts 27 nieces and nephews and 10 great nieces and nephews. Her family and, most importantly, her father, have been a great inspiration in her life and work.

"My father, Vito Trifone Chiechi, rose above huge challenges after his debilitating stroke that paralyzed his entire left side," said Dolores. "He got out of bed every day thriving and striving to make a difference in as many lives as he could. He left behind a legacy of family values and traditions we all continue to foster."

That legacy of commitment remains strong today in Vito's daughter Dolores.

Article from ECPG Insights Newsletter

Victor Mena, David Fretz to lead RGA Board of Directors

Victor Mena, Chief Operating Officer of Washington Gold Corporation was unanimously elected as the RGA¹s new president for the 2012-13 term. David Fretz, President of Great American Gaming, was elected Vice President.

Mr. Victor Mena

Joining them on the Board are George Teeny, Second Vice President/Sergeant-at-Arms; Jo England, Treasurer, Max Faulkner, Past President, Tim Iszley, and Chris Kealy, Immediate Past President.

The Board and its officers were elected during the general membership and planning meeting May 17th in Olympia.

The Board expressed its heartfelt thanks to Chris Kealy, for his three terms of service as President, leading the RGA in its efforts to bring electronic gaming to house-banked card rooms and put our industry on a sustainable, stable track.

Marathon legislative session ends.
No electronic gaming legislation this year.

The Legislature finally called it quits Wednesday morning, April 11th, just before 7:30 am. That's right, am. The legislature pulled an all-nighter working past the end of the 30-day special session, requiring the Governor to call another special session that lasted all of 7.5 hours. Going back to last year, those 7.5 hours represent the fifth special session in that time period. Those specials account for just short of 100 extra days; in essence an entire extra session was spent dealing with the state's fiscal issues.

RGA Gaming Proposal – HB 2786 / SB 6601
Both measures were on the table throughout special session but were not part of the final agreement.

We have been encouraged by the traction our proposal gained among individual legislators and will continue our efforts to move our proposal forward. While the state's financial problems helped focus attention on the revenue relief our legislation could have provided, our proposal will provide long-term, sustainable revenue and job growth, which remain critical issues for our state into the foreseeable future.

Keep those calls and e-mails coming!

As legislators try to come together on a budget, new revenue sources, such as revenues from non-tribal electronic gaming, are still very much in play. Hundreds of RGA member employees and card room patrons have contacted their legislators and fiscal committee leadership to urge them to move HB 2786 and SB 6601, because they provide significant, sustainable revenue sources while saving and creating jobs in the card room industry. Join them by calling the LEGISLATIVE HOTLINE 1-800-562-6000 and leaving a message urging support for these bills.

Statewide poll shows solid voter support for allowing electronic scratch ticket machines in house-banked card rooms to help raise revenue for education, health and human services, and public safety.

A statewide poll conducted by EMC Research on behalf of the RGA shows that up to 67% of likely voters support electronic scratch ticket machines for house-banked card rooms. Initially, voters supported electronic gaming for card rooms by a 50% to 34% margin, but when given additional information, such as the limited footprint of the proposal, and the fact that revenues would be strictly allocated to education, health and human services, and public safety, support jumped to as high as 67%.

Interestingly, most of the opposition to the proposal is driven by those who disapprove of any sort of gambling (23%). Support for non-tribal electronic gaming among those who approve of or feel neutral about gambling rose to 82%.

See the key findings of the poll here...

House Republican budget writers will explore Electronic Machine Gaming for House-Banked Card Rooms.

From the story on TVW Capitol Record:
"...Alexander said they're not giving up on the idea of expanded gaming. "We will be exploring the options of gaming alternatives, whether that be in the area of extending video terminal machine gaming to our existing non-tribal casinos" or punch-card technology. He said the potential revenue is attractive, particularly in contrast to an increased sales tax, which Republicans do not support."

HB 2786: The Electronic Gaming Act of 2012

With the legislature focused now on budget issues, the RGA's electronic gaming bill was introduced in the House on February 16th. A companion bill in the Senate is expected to be introduced shortly.

HB 2786 is a bi-partisan effort, with five Democratic and seven Republican sponsors, who see this not only as a bill to ease the current budget shortfall pressure, but as a long term, sustainable revenue source for critical programs like education, human services and public safety.

The bill also saves and generates jobs in our industry, which is not only good for our workers and the families they support, but for our communities and the state as a whole.

For an overview of what this new bill does, check out the FACT SHEET.

A more detailed analysis of the bill can be found here.

A copy of the bill is here.

Washington Policy Center's Policy Guide discusses tax advantages of tribal businesses, including gaming.

In its 2012 policy guide, the Washington Policy Center, one of our state's most respected think tanks, provides a very clear and thorough discussion of tribal vs. non-tribal gaming issues.
Read the chapter on "Tax Advantages of Tribal Businesses" here. To see the entire policy guide, click here.

Washington State Gambling Commission
releases opinion poll findings.

A poll conducted last summer on behalf of the Washington State Gambling Commission by WSU shows some interesting results:

  • While gaming revenues are way up over 2005, gaming activity is down.
  • People with higher incomes are more likely to gamble than those with lower incomes.
  • 91% look at gaming as a fun, recreational activity.
  • The biggest concerns about gaming are internet gambling (credit card fraud, cheating) and underage gambling.
  • The State Lottery is the most popular form of gambling, but the most money is spent on tribal and out-of-state casino gambling.

For the complete here.

Card Room Workers speak out about their jobs.

Some 6,000 workers who depend on house-banked card rooms to support themselves and their families want legislators to know how important these jobs are to them and their communities.

Take Chris Douglas, for example, who works as a surveillance lead at Maverick's Casino in Cle Elum. He writes:

"My job is vital to my very survival, especially when living in an area of declining employment. But it's a lot more than that. This job has given me my honor, my self-respect, and my dignity back. I'm a proud member of the Maverick's Casino & Saloon family!"

Here's the letter in Chris' own hand.

A fresh proposal to allow limited electronic gaming
in house-banked card rooms.

The RGA's lobbying team worked around the clock during the legislature's special session that began November 28th, to try and gather sponsors from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate for its new bill to authorize electronic gaming in house-banked card rooms. The session ended earlier than anticipated, but the team will pick up its efforts again when the regular session starts on January 9th.

The bill is titled THE ELECTRONIC GAMING REVENUE ACT OF 2012, "concerning the authorization and regulation of electronic scratch ticket machines for house-banked card rooms and providing funding for education, health and human services, and public safety."

We felt it was important that the bill title and description focus on its impact in creating much needed new revenue to help "buy back" some of the devastating cuts in education and other vital state programs. The bill authorizes house-banked card rooms to operate the same kinds of electronic scratch ticket games currently allowed only in tribal casinos. There is a limit of 200 machines per establishment, with a total limit statewide of 7,875. Only currently operating house-banked card rooms—now 63—will qualify. New licensees will have to operate for at least 5 years before they are eligible.

The measure will raise $380 million per biennium, with as much as $160 million in the first year of operation. These are conservative estimates, developed by Gaming Market Associates, a leading gaming marketing firm based in Las Vegas. For more of what the bill does, click here for a quick overview, or for a more comprehensive Bill Summary and section by section analysis click here.

Stay tuned for updates as the bill moves forward...

Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Policy Position Electronic Gaming Act of 2012 H-3076.1

The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors supports H-3076.1, an act relating to the authorization and regulation of electronic scratch ticket machines for non­tribal, house-banked card room establishments and utilizing the taxes generated for education, health and human services, as well as public safety; amending RCW 67.70.040, 67.70.330, and 9.46.291; creating a new section; adding a new chapter to Title 67 RCW; and declaring an emergency.

The legislature has declared that electronic scratch tickets are a legal form of gambling in the state of Washington. This position is intended to grant specific authority to the Washington state lottery commission to regulate electronic scratch ticket gambling by non-tribal house-banked card rooms that are currently allowed in state tribal gaming venues.

The Chamber Board finds this chapter will assist in job creation and retention. The Chamber Board further finds that this chapter is necessary for the immediate preservation of public health and safety and the support of state government and its existing public institutions as it is intended to generate tax revenue appropriated in the 2011-2013 biennium. Programs dependent upon the additional revenue forecasted under this chapter provide for the health, education, and welfare of the citizens of the state of Washington.

The legislature faces a looming $1.4 billion deficit in this biennium. Citizens are rightly resistant to further taxes and fees imposed on their existing limited budgets. A fee imposed on recreational gaming would be self-imposed to only those who choose this form of entertainment.

If you would like to download this document CLICK HERE

Washington Fairs Associations supports RGA Bill

The Washington State Fairs Association has come out in support of electronic machine gaming to boost state and local revenues. The Association is a non-profit group of fair and youth shows that has been working to showcase our state's agriculture, business, and industry since 1940. Learn about the good work they're doing HERE.

$2.5 billion...
State Gambling Commission releases FY 2011 gaming industry figures. Tribal casinos dominate market share and growth.

Recreational gaming is a $2.5 billion industry, according to the latest figures released by the Washington State Gambling Commission. The figures show that year over year, gaming has grown from $2.29 billion in FY 2010 to over $2.5 billion in FY 2011. That's a nearly 10% increase.

Just about all of that increase, however, is attributable to tribal operations, which increased from an estimated $1.74 in FY 2010 to $1.95 in FY 2011! Market share for tribal casinos is also steadily increasing, from 72% in 2009 to 78% in 2011.

Meanwhile, house-banked card rooms continue to have declining receipts, though they are holding their own. Receipts declined from $252 million in FY 2009, to $228. 6 million in FY 2010, and $225.7 in FY 2011.

All other sectors, except the state lottery, which increased receipts by about 8% also continued to decline. For an illustration of the overall trend in gaming receipts and their distribution in 5-year increments since 2005, CLICK HERE.