A Massachusetts non-profit gambling addiction group inadvertently advertised free slot machine spins as part of a fundraiser. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
A baffling move
When you are an organization that works to help problem gamblers, something you tend not to do is encourage them to gamble. Somewhat incredibly, the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health (MACGH), a gambling addiction non-profit group, was recently found to be advertising free spins for slot machines. That seems counterproductive.
what looked to be a fundraising partnership between the council and a casino
As per its website, the MACGH is a private, non-profit agency that “promotes public health by mitigating the negative personal and community impacts of gambling and gaming.” Anti-gambling advocates expressed their dismay when they saw what looked to be a fundraising partnership between the council and a casino.
A local event
the fundraising event has already taken place, having been advertised on the council’s Facebook page. The Toys for Tots toy drive was held at the Plainridge Park Casino on December 1; the flyer said that the event was in coordination with the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health. In one of the promotions for the event, people who bought a toy received $10 in free slot machine play at the casino.
Plainridge Park Casino is a gaming machine property – it has slots and electronic table games – and is one of three commercial casinos in Massachusetts.
People were stunned to see that a gambling addiction prevention organization was possibly part of a fundraiser that was incentivizing people to donate by offering free slot machine play. People expressed concerns about such a group working closely with a casino interest in the state.
Concerns about the impact of the flyer
Stop Predatory Gambling’s Harry Levant proclaimed that the council had encouraged its social media followers to go to a casino to get access to some free play. Naturally, some people with gambling addiction follow the council’s Facebook page.
Levant himself is a recovering gambling addict and is currently obtaining a gambling addiction research Ph.D. He wonders how many gambling addicts ended up going to the casino to take advantage of the promotion and will need help once more.
council wanted to share the flyer, but did not properly review the contents
Responding to a request for explanation from local media, a spokesperson for the MACGH explained that the council wanted to share the flyer, but did not properly review its contents. It was not aware that a gambling incentive was in place for donors and that the original social media post has been taken down.