Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Self-exclusion orders often are limited in duration and in geographic scope, but they are otherwise categorical: an excluded person cannot gamble at all at a place from which he or she has chosen to exclude. In that sense, self-exclusion is an all-or-nothing proposition: either you can gamble under the same regime that governs everyone, or you cannot engage in gambling.

Lots of folks who fear their loss of self-control, however, might not want to renounce their vice of choice entirely. For these people, rules that allow limited indulgence, as opposed to enforcing abstinence, might be preferable to self-exclusion. Many people try to adopt and enforce such rules on their own, through two-drink limits or by only carrying a small amount of cash into a casino. But in the case of gambling, casinos can help, and sometimes they do, by offering special rules, such as voluntary credit limits or opt-outs from gambling on credit altogether. Further, the regulatory structure surrounding gambling can provide some limits, of the not-so-voluntary variety. Until recently, Missouri casinos had a loss limit of $500 per two hours, and $6000 per day (that would be a sufficiently bad day for me). To enforce the limit, every casino-goer needed to present an ID, and would be issued a boarding card. The boarding card would have to be swiped at buy-ins for table games and inserted in a reader during play at electronic games, so that the limit could be enforced. One side effect of operating with mandatory loss limits was that self-exclusion orders could be policed more easily, thanks to the ID requirement. It might be the case that the Missouri self-exclusion program is being undermined by the repeal of the loss-limit regulation.

More on self-limiting behavior in future posts, I hope.

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