Posts Tagged ‘compulsive gambling’

MA Bill Bans Marketing to Gambling Addicts

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The U.S. state of Massachusetts is considering legalizing gambling, with lawmakers discussing a gambling bill on the floor of the House that would authorize full casinos as well as slot machines at the state’s dog and horse racing tracks. If the bill passes and becomes law, gamblers in Massachusetts will have somewhere to play blackjack other than online.

Recently the House voted on three amendments to the bill, approving one and rejecting two. One of the rejected amendments would have required the casinos to post the odds (all of the odds, not just the house edge) of each slot machine in a conspicuous place in 18-point type. This amendment was rejected by a 137-20 vote.

The other rejected amendment required the newly created state gaming commission to conduct specific background checks on all applicants for jobs at the casino resorts. It would also require drug testing, fingerprinting and more. Since the amendment was struck down, the gaming commission may still conduct those background investigations, but it is not required. Also, the casinos may conduct their own investigations. This amendment was rejected by a 112-45 vote.

It is the other amendment, the one that passed, that is of the greatest concern to me. By a slim 80-76 vote, the Massachusetts House approved an amendment to the casino bill that allows problem gamblers to voluntarily request to opt out of marketing for the casinos. The players are then placed on a “self-exclusion” list and the casinos will be prohibited from marketing to anyone on that list.

This is of concern to blackjack players and players of any casino game that have a gambling problem. Though the overwhelming majority of blackjack players gamble responsibly, there are some who do not. Those problem gamblers, according to some, can develop a gambling addiction (though some in the psychological community dispute the “addiction” claim).

Many people believe that it would be hazardous to market to someone with a gambling problem, because they might not be able to say no. They may end up going to the casino and losing lots of money because they couldn’t control themselves. Those who are concerned with the financial and mental safety of compulsive gamblers support legislation that bans marketing to those individuals. Those who opposed the amendment state that is unnecessary interference in the free market by the legislature.

I’m normally very supportive of a free market and a laissez-faire approach to economics by the government. However, I think allowing problem gamblers to opt out of being subject to marketing by the casinos is a good idea. The only downside is I don’t know how difficult it will be for casinos to make sure they don’t accidentally market to someone on the list. That is certainly something that needs to be addressed.

With that amendment passed, the full bill will continue to be debated by the state House. Earlier this month, the bill was modified to remove language that would have made online gambling illegal. With that language removed, there is no ban on online gambling in the state of Massachusetts.

Machine to Help with Problem Gambling

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Gambling, whether it’s done in a brick and mortar or online casino, can be a fun way to spend your time if you are responsible. Like many forms of entertainment, including sporting events, movies, theme parks and more, it costs money to play your favorite casino games. One difference, though, is that you don’t necessarily know how much it will cost you ahead of time. That’s where budgeting and planning how much to spend ahead of time comes in handy.

Some people, however, have a hard time doing that and even if they do plan, in the excitement of the moment have a hard time walking away when they should. That is a form of problem gambling, an ailment that afflicts too many players worldwide. Now there is a machine available that can help people manage their money more effectively.

A Canadian gaming company called TechLink has introduced the Responsible Gaming Device, which is made to be used in brick and mortar casinos, though it is likely that an online version will be available soon.

How it works is this: Casinos purchase a machine, called Gameplan, and install the software for that device on their gambling machines. Players purchase the Responsible Gaming Device, which can be plugged into the casino’s machines. That Device identifies the gambler and all of the conditions that have been selected.

The machine allows the player to select certain limits, whether it’s a maximum amount of losses during a time period, a certain amount of money wagered, or any other similar limit and is notified when those limits are met. The device then locks the player out and no more bets can be made. If necessary, the player can also use the device to exclude themselves entirely, which is basically a self-blacklisting.

Though this would be easy to incorporate into machines like slots and video poker, I don’t know how it could be used, if it can, for table games like blackjack. For that reason, I think the software is better suited for online casinos. That way it could be applied to every game and it could refuse to let the player make a deposit or play any games once the limit is met.

Ideally, everything that this machine accomplishes would be done by the gamblers without any help. Setting your own limits before you start playing is wise and it’s the easiest way to make sure you don’t spend too much. However, for people who have a problem with compulsive gambling, this machine is a great idea and will eventually help a lot of people. I, for one, am excited about it.