Former Gaming Executive, Professor Praises CO’s Problem Gambling Efforts

Written By Phil West on 01/10/2024 - Last Updated on January 11, 2024
Photo of people praising a man on a story about a professor lauding Colorado's efforts on problem gambling.

An expert on the casino industry affiliated with a top Colorado university notes that the recent boost in gambling revenue is good for Colorado. But with an increase in gambling comes an increase in problem gambling that needs to be accounted for.

David Farahi, an adjunct professor with the University of Denver and a former COO for the Monarch Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk, told Colorado Public Radio that it’s an overall good development for the Centennial State to allow gambling within its borders.

“If we can bring a Vegas-quality asset with Vegas-quality games to Colorado, we will steal trips from Las Vegas, and we will grow the pie for the state of Colorado, and every indication is that has happened.”

Farahi, however, is also conscious of how the growth of gambling can increase problem gambling.

“Whenever you have an expansion of gaming. Especially one that is going to put sports betting in people’s pockets, through their phones, you’re going to have an expansion of problem gambling.”

So far, he’s satisfied with the state’s efforts to help problem gambling in Colorado.

Self-excluded players have access to counseling

Colorado Public Radio notes that Farahi serves on the board of Kindbridge Behavioral Health. Kindbridge provides resources to curb problem gambling.

That includes a program Kindbridge launched in partnership with BetMGM in September. The pilot program gives players access to telehealth meetings with specialized professionals trained to help people struggling with gambling.

Kindbridge finds existing qualified providers and develops others with the potential to work with problem gamblers. Though the program focuses on players who choose to self-exclude, BetMGM will also occasionally flag problematic behaviors and perform direct outreach to players.

The program allows self-excluding gamblers to take themselves out of the loop for a one-year, three-year or five-year period. That action keeps them from being able to use sports betting apps or play in Colorado casinos for the time designated.

Farahi said the program has been beneficial.

“Colorado is really leading the nation in that kind of model. Which I think is absolutely fantastic, and I think that more states will follow suit.”

Gaming officials say few Coloradans have problems with gambling

The Colorado Division of Gaming worked with the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado to launch the voluntary self-exclusion program. Director Chris Schroder established the program as a priority shortly after taking over the department he told Colorado Public Radio.

“A very small percentage of guests develop a gambling problem. But we want to make sure that we give those individuals the resource they needed to make sound decisions and educated decisions for themselves.”

Farahi echoed that.

“There are enough people that can have a healthy relationship with gambling for the industry to have a robust business. We do not need to be predatory.”

Colorado’s also gone down other avenues to promote responsible gaming. They include the Colorado Lottery issuing reminders not to gift tickets to children, and the Colorado Legislature adding to the state’s responsible gaming fund coffers through legislation passed in 2022.

Photo by Shutterstock / Illustration by PlayColorado
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Phil West

Phil West is an Austin-based writer and editor who has been published in a wide range of publications throughout his career, including the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times,, The Striker, and The Daily Dot. He's currently writing about Austin FC (and more generally, about MLS and world soccer) at Verde All Day, an independent Substack-hosted and subscriber-supported site. He's also a Senior Lecturer in The Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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