Monday, May 3, 2010

More Casino Exclusion Noncompliance

As effective as casino self-exclusion can be for combating pathological gambling, its implementation often leaves something to be desired: gamblers in some jurisdictions repeatedly enter casinos from which they have excluded without being removed. Recently, casinos in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been fined for allowing self-excluded individuals to gamble. The transgressive customer in New Jersey used aliases to set up frequent player accounts: thirteen of his fifteen aliases were spotted by the casinos, but two "worked." While the two New Jersey casinos were fined $10,000 each for allowing this self-excluded, pseudonymous person to gamble, they were "allowed to keep the more than $87,000 he lost while gambling there because they did not knowingly allow an excluded player to gamble, the commission said." The self-excluded generally are drawn from the pool of a casino's best customers.


  1. What is the justification for punishing a casino for failing to catch a self-excluder who works hard to get back in?

    If the casino is being lax in enforcing self-exclusion, then the fines would incentivize them to implement more rigorous systems. Was that a factor in the commission's decision? The fact that the casino caught 13 out of 15 aliases suggests they were performing good enforcement, but it's clearly impossible to say without more facts.

    If, though, the casino did what it was supposed to and the individual just beat the system, punishing the casino would disincentivize casino ownership in general, not just encourage enforcement of self-exclusion. While that may or may not be a good thing, it doesn't seem to be the purpose of this law.

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree, that if it were known that the casino had made all reasonable efforts at enforcement, there would not be much of a case for a fine. (Though if you think that there are social damages from letting a pathological gambler wager, then you might choose a strict liability regime over a negligence regime for casinos - so the fine might work well anyway.) But the intensity of enforcement effort can be hard to verify. What is easy to see is the significant (short-term, at least) profit incentive that casinos have to be less than diligent at keeping the self-excluded people away. An Australian study in the late 1990s found that a bit more than 2 percent of the population were pathological gamblers -- but they were responsible for about one-third of casino profits.

  3. Self-exclusion in Pennsylvania has two interesting properties: you can sign up 24/7 at any casino, but you are required to make TWO visits to the office of the gaming control board to be removed from self-exclusion. The visits must be at least a week apart, but no more than 60 days apart. This makes it easy to enter but difficult to leave.

    Enforcement in New Jersey occurs at the tables. I've been asked for ID lots of times, and I am clearly older than 21.

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