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Initiative seeks to prevent problem gambling issues at Tribe’s properties

HOLLYWOOD — As the Tribe’s gaming properties continue to expand across the globe, it has launched a new program to educate players and lessen issues associated with problem gambling.

PlayersEdge is an initiative focused on player engagement – whether they are new, casual or experienced.

The subject is important, Paul Pellizzari said, because if someone has a gambling problem it can have a wide range of negative impacts – psychological, physical, in family relationships, with work and in finances.

Pellizzari is the vice president of global social responsibility for Hard Rock International.

Paul Pellizzari is the vice president of global social responsibility for Hard Rock International. (HRI)

He’s been working on PlayersEdge with Angie Martinez, manager of social responsibility and Tribal business relations at Seminole Hard Rock Support Services.

The two have also consulted with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling on the initiative.

The program uses several methods to provide information and education on the gaming floor.

For those who need it, PlayersEdge offers information, assistance and support services, including referrals for those who decide to voluntarily self-exclude from gaming.

More than 15,000 “guest-facing employees” (those who interact with guests) will receive a “frontline fundamentals” online training course that explains different aspects of player behavior.

The employees learn how to interpret behavior and take the correct action, whether it’s simply providing a guest information, or for more serious situations, how to escalate a response.

There is also an expanded training for supervisors and managers. They will receive a “supervisor support” classroom session where role playing is done and real-life scenarios are explored.

These more senior personnel are taught how to interact with and support distressed gamblers, with help from trained clinicians and problem gambling experts from the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.

In addition, visitors to gaming properties will soon notice a PlayersEdge outreach campaign on the gaming floor.

“There will be a regular stream of messages to help all types of players on an ongoing basis,” Pellizzari said. “We are educating people in the environment where they are gambling and normalizing messages in the gambling environment.

Historically the messages are hard to communicate and we want to be effective at it.”

Formats to get the message out, Pellizzari said, include a mix of print, digital, web and social.

Pellizzari said visitors can expect to see posters, cards, brochures and messages on screens that will be located at the end of slot machines, for example.

The overarching goal, Pellizzari said, is to keep gaming fun and make sure players are able to enjoy it for the long term.

He said HRI and Seminole Gaming are committed to building a healthy base of customers who gamble safely and return to properties year after year.

Pellizzari has worked for the Tribe for one and a half years. In that time, he’s been working to evolve the responsible gaming program.

“We built PlayersEdge by listening to gamblers. We want to communicate the right information by appealing to how they actually think and behave in casinos,” Pellizzari said. “By understanding the risk profiles and experience levels of different player types, we can segment and target information more precisely, bringing a new focus on preventing problems before they start.”

Now in Hollywood, but originally from Canada, Pellizzari has been working in corporate responsibility initiatives for 25 years.

While PlayersEdge trainings have already been underway, it is expected to be fully rolled out sometime in January 2020.

More information is at playersedge.org.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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