With a new casino on the horizon in Schenectady, clinicians gathered at Proctors on Thursday for the first day of a conference on how to address problem gambling.
The Problem Gambling Training Partnership conference kicked off Thursday morning. About 150 people filled the theater Thursday morning to learn about New York state’s legislation and regulations on casinos, as well as background on the concept of problem gambling. It’s a two-day event, and the Schenectady seminar is one of four being held across the state as casinos pop up.
Kimberly Eisen, the program coordinator for the conference, said Schenectady was chosen as one of the four locations this year because it has a casino being built in the city.
“The impetus [for the event] is the expansion of casinos, but we recognize there are other avenues for people to gamble,” she said, with presenters noting the lottery, fantasy sports and other methods of gambling available to consumers.
Rivers Casino & Resort is expected to open on the Mohawk Harbor site off of Erie Boulevard in February or March of 2017. The casino will feature 1,150 slot machines, 63 table games and poker room with 15 tables. It will also include a VIP room. An adjacent, 163-room hotel is expected to open about six months after the casino.
The target audience for the problem gambling conference is clinicians, such as mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists and psychoanalysts. The program trains attendees on understanding how problem gambling, or gambling addiction, develops, and how best to provide assistance or treatment to clients who deal with the issue.
Day one of the seminar began with a speaker breaking down legislation in New York that led to the construction of casinos across the state. A second presenter provided an introduction to problem gambling, and how a hobby can become a concern.
Jaime Costello, the speaker, asked the audience to name some words they associate with gambling. “Fun,” “money,” “stressful” and “risk” were some of the most commonly chosen words. Costello then explained how clinicians could identify the difference between a social habit and a problem habit.
Day two of the conference is scheduled to focus more on the intervention and treatment tools for problem gambling. One presentation will discuss resources available to communities, mental health professionals and problem gamblers.
Two Problem Gambling Training Partnership conferences were already held in New York state this year, with one taking place in White Plains and the other being hosted in Uniondale. The fourth and final scheduled conference will be in Rochester in October.