Gambling Tips

Responsible Gambling and Self-Exclusion Programs: Nevada Needs to Step Up

Sometimes, people just can’t help themselves. Their self-discipline fails and they need be disincentivized to keep them from partaking in unhealthy activities. Self-exclusion programs are designed to do exactly that, help addicted gamblers by using what economists call a commitment device. They are designed to limit or outright prohibit access to gaming areas. There are 21 states with land, riverboat, or race track casinos and their self-exclusion programs can vary greatly.

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Missouri established the first statewide voluntary exclusion program in the United States and has some of the most austere guidelines. When someone signs up for what is called their Disassociated Person List, a lifetime ban is imposed on all casino based gambling activity in the state. If a person on that list is found on any gaming floor, they will be arrested for trespassing and all casino credit on their person (chips, electronic credit, etc.) will be forfeited to the casino. Ouch. A brief interview with a person on this list and some trouble they found themselves in can be heard on the Freakonomics Podcast in an episode titled, “Save Me From Myself”.

My home state of Illinois features similar protocols. In Illinois, however, people may petition to be removed from the list after five years. Also, any jackpots winnings of excluded persons over $1,200 are distributed to non-profit organizations which focus on helping addicted gamblers.*

There is one state program that is disappointingly lax- Nevada. According to the American Gaming Association’s “Responsible Gaming Statutes and Regulations”, Nevada’s self-exclusion general mandates are as follows:

Each licensee that engages in the issuance of credit, check cashing, or the direct mail marketing of gaming opportunities, shall implement a program containing the elements described below, as appropriate, that allows patrons to self-limit their access to the issuance of credit, check cashing, or direct mail marketing by that licensee…

And…that’s it. Now, to be fair, individual casinos are allowed to develop and implement their own programs, but few, if any to my knowledge, go beyond this.

This does close to nothing to combat the problem of compulsive gambling. Addicted gamblers are not driven by mailers and they’re not limited to check cashing or casino credit opportunities. No, gambling is constantly on their mind and they’ll find ways to get the necessary funds to get their fix. Trust me, ask their friends and family. Nevada’s program is downright laughable. Las Vegas is the gambling mecca of the United States. This means they should also be a leader in combating problematic gambling and be working closely with the AGA and the National Center for Responsible Gambling. I am aware that a stern self-exclusion program can negatively affect the bottom line, but so can unfavorable perceptions of the industry. On other related topic, checkout this blog about sexual addiction rehab centers.

If you or anyone you know has a problem with compulsive gambling, please don’t hesitate to use any number of resources available. Here are a few to start:

National Council on Problem Gambling

Gambler’s Anonymous

Mayo Clinic

*Thanks to the National Center for Responsible Gaming for this information. More information about self-exclusion programs can be found in their multiple volume series Increasing the Odds Volume 5Evaluating Self-Exclusion as an Intervention for Disordered Gambling

photo credit: Images Money 

About the author

Adam

Host of the Vegas Fanboy podcast. A reluctant Millennial. An amateur human.