Monday, July 14, 2008
Compulsive gambling experts tend to emphasize the personal responsibility of the gamblers themselves to overcome their addiction, and many self-exclusion programs declare that ultimately, it is the bettor's responsibility to keep away. Nevertheless, successful self-exclusion programs do require a credible threat of enforcement, and casinos may well have to be monitored to ensure that they put some effort into erecting and maintaining entry barriers aimed at those on the excluded list. Self-excluded individuals tend to be heavy gamblers, of course, and hence a very profitable clientèle for the casinos. So gambling establishments might have a financial interest in looking the other way when a self-excluded (former) patron walks in the door.
In other self-exclusion news, remember that fellow who wanted a self-exclusion litigant's name revealed? The court had only released the litigant's initials, and this other guy had the same initials, so people too lazy to look deeply into the matter kept thinking that the other dude was the self-exclusion litigant. (I can sympathize, being frequently confused by the unwashed masses with Japan Airlines.) The court rendered a Solomonic decision: the name of the original litigant would not be revealed (in keeping with the anonymity promised to those who place themselves on New Jersey's self-exclusion list), but the court officially affirmed that the "initial" gambler was someone other than the later complainant.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
One of the standard features of a self-exclusion program is that someone who has volunteered to join the excluded ranks is removed from the list of those who are sent promotional material. This is another area of slippage between theory and practice, apparently. The Illinois Gaming Board is fining a casino $800,000 for not sealing off the self-excluded from marketing appeals. The same casino received a $600,000 fine for similar activities two years ago. I would think that these significant fines will concentrate casino minds on providing a more effective barrier between their promotions and self-excluded gamblers.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I like to think of myself as the Self-Exclusion Guy.
Sorry for disappearing under the blogoscope. My temporary relocation has made it hard to participate in Web 2.0.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Gambling jurisdictions around the world have adopted self-exclusion programs in which gamblers can voluntarily agree to be barred from further gambling. The popularity of self-exclusion stems from its aid in combating problem or pathological gambling, along with its non-coercive nature. To bolster the self-control of problem gamblers, exclusion programs combine physical inaccessibility and reward diminution: bettors are supposed to remain (or be kept) away from gambling sites, and the gambling winnings of excluded bettors can be confiscated. Other elements of program design that can affect the workings of a self-exclusion program include the duration of an exclusion, its revocability, and the breadth of gambling activities to which the prohibition applies. Self-exclusion or broader user licensing programs can be helpful for control of vices other than gambling. I argue that self-exclusion should form an integral component of drug regulatory frameworks that offer substantial improvements over drug prohibition.The title of the paper is tepid too: "Self-Exclusion". But the ideas, well, they are revolutionary (in a tepid sort of way).
Update: There were some annoying ersatz characters at the beginning of the abstract on the SSRN page, so I just made a bid to remove them. We'll see if this works...
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Nevertheless, there are two obvious reforms that can help. First, people considering joining a self-exclusion list should be warned that their action might spillover to other jurisdictions. Second, long-term bans should themselves require a waiting period. A person who approaches a casino about self-exclusion should receive an immediate short-term exclusion, but for a lengthy term, he or she should have to take further action at a later date. (See the Blaszczynski, Ladouceur, and Nower suggestion noted here.) This action probably should be arranged to take place at a non-gambling locale, to reduce temptation.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I mention in the Milken article that self-exclusion programs do not have to be passive. Casino employees or representatives of the gambling commission can keep their eye on potential problem gamblers, and hold an impromptu chat with them. (Attendance records and betting information from frequent-player programs also can be put to use for this purpose.) This sort of pro-active mechanism is used at Dutch casinos, and many of those gamblers who are approached for a chat choose to self-exclude. I think that active self-exclusion (and involuntary exclusion for bad actors) might be a good idea when drugs become legal, too, as I note in the Milken piece:
Individuals who misbehave under the influence of the drug would have their licenses revoked, or be involuntarily placed on the excluded list. One could even imagine a requirement of annual evaluations for drug-license holders to determine how they are coping with the drug, and to counsel lower limits, complete self-exclusion or treatment admission for those whose drug use appears to be getting the better of them. That is, self-exclusion could be active, like at Dutch casinos, and drug sellers could be drafted into the activity of barring their best customers – a far cry from their current behavior.When I first mentioned the Milken article, I noted an unfortunate typo in the second word. I just downloaded a pdf from the website, however, and I find that the typo has been repaired! (Somehow it hadn't occurred to me that this alteration was possible -- in a lifetime of typos, what is one more? -- so I did not contact the relevant authorities.) Bravo, Milken Institute Review!
Monday, February 4, 2008
The Milken Institute Review article starts off with a delightful anecdote (by golly, it is delightful) about famed poet and opium addict Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who tried (unsuccessfully) to set up his own self-exclusion system by hiring goons to bar his entrance into pharmacies. (At the time in the UK, opium was legally available without a prescription.) When Coleridge really wanted opium, however, he would fire his agents on the spot, leaving them befuddled as to whether to obey the previous or the current Coleridge.
It is embarrassing when you make an error on the second page of a long publication. How about the second word? Somehow in the relating of this delightful anecdote, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was rendered, in large font, as Samuel Tyler Coleridge. Sigh. [Update: the wonderful folks at the Milken Institute Review corrected the typo, without bidding!]
Vice Squad has spoken about self-exclusion occasionally in the past, and hopes to speak more in the future -- assuming physical inaccessibility and reward diminution do not kick in.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
South Koreans are not supposed to gamble on US military bases but it appears that some of that revenue did come from officially-ineligible Koreans. Some of the revenue comes from military personnel or family members who gamble pathologically.
The U.S. Army and Air Force generated more than $83.6 million in revenue via 1,191 slot machines in South Korea in fiscal 2007, according to data provided by the Army’s Family MWR [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] Command and the Air Force Personnel Center.
The Army, which also runs the machines on Navy facilities in South Korea, earned the lion’s share: about $73.5 million with 927 machines. As a comparison, the Army’s 1,550 machines in Europe, including machines the service runs on Air Force and Navy installations, brought in $38.5 million during the same time period.
At least one congressman wants to put an end to on-base gambling. I have some sympathy for that point of view, but I also have another suggestion. Require every person who wants to gamble at an on-base facility to have pre-committed to a daily, weekly, and monthly (and possibly annual) total bet limit. Rig the slots so that they only operate when the player inserts his card into the relevant card reader, so that the previously recorded betting limits can be enforced electronically. (That is, the betting limit cards are like "frequent player cards" that casinos use to track betting and to target freebies.) A gambler who is afraid of his own susceptibilities to addiction can then choose low limits, or even totally self-exclude by not acquiring a card with limits in the first place. This voluntary system is not foolproof, but it is helpful. If this suggestion is seen as too tepid, then the limits can be chosen by the military.
Back in 2005, the New York Times explored some of the problems associated with gambling on US military bases abroad.