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Council of Churches of Western Mass to Form Responsible Gaming Council

Contact: Archbishop Timothy Paul, 413-733-2149, 413-263-9006 mobile

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., May 23, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Council of Churches of Western Massachusetts will create a regional responsible gaming council. The new initiative will be called the "Western Massachusetts Council for Gaming Accountability" (the WMCGA). The WMCGA will work in partnership with the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling and the National Council on Problem Gambling.

The WMCGA will ultimately be comprised of nine member organizations: six from the Greater Springfield Area and one from each of Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The organizations will represent a wide range of viewpoints, including religious, spiritual, academic, behavioral and clinical.

"We evaluated all three Western Massachusetts competitors and while all of them demonstrated a commitment to responsible gaming, MGM Resorts International is the lessor of the evils and as a company has the most impressive track record of supporting responsible gaming," said Archbishop Timothy Paul Baymon, President of the Council of Churches of Western Mass and Founding Chairman of the WMCGA. "The MGM Springfield development team in particular showed the greatest commitment to supporting the formation of the WMCGA to mitigate the adverse impacts of gaming on a community. We reached out to all four bidders."

The Council of Churches pointed to MGM's role in helping found the National Center for Responsible Gaming (the "NCRG"), as well as their commitment to public education, employee training, and awareness programs focused on problem gaming.

"We have great respect for the Council of Churches and their willingness to address this very important issue," stated Alan Feldman, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for MGM Resorts. "MGM has a strong history of supporting responsible gaming practices and that starts by partnering with organizations that provide family and social services in the area."

In addition to his role at MGM Resorts, Feldman serves as the Chairman of the Board of the NCRG. The NCRG was founded by major gaming industry companies in 1996, to fund research around responsible gaming. It is widely recognized as one of the leading authorities on responsible gaming, having commissioning nearly 200 published studies on problem gaming since its inception.

The Council of Churches will seek support for the WMCGA from whichever casino granted license to operate in Western Mass for counselor training for instituting WMGCA counseling programs and related services.

"Our membership has expressed clear concerns about gaming coming to Western Massachusetts. While we are opposed to casinos, there will be a casino coming to Western Massachusetts and if done responsibly," stated Baymon.