Monday, February 14, 2011


A comment on this blog from last June informed us of the process for ending a self-exclusion in Pennsylvania. The idea is that once your chosen term for exclusion is over, you still might have to jump through some hoops to be reinstated. I think that there is something to be said for the need to take a positive step to be reinstated, as long as that step is not too onerous. (One of the problems with making reinstatement difficult is that wavering people might decide to forgo self-exclusion entirely; I think that also is a problem for exclusion schemes that offer only lifetime or long-term bans.)

The National Center for Responsible Gaming publication on Self-exclusion (54-page pdf here) contains an appendix summarizing self-exclusion programs in US states and selected other jurisdictions. Drawing on this source, some of the reinstatement schemes that involve barriers, and those barriers, follow:

Illinois: requires an affidavit from a mental health professional indicating that controlled gambling is feasible; Louisiana has a similar provision;

Kansas: excluders must take courses on healthy lifestyles and undertake a problem gambling assessment;

Pennsylvania: two personal visits, at least five days apart, are required for reinstatement; classes might be mandated, too;

Delaware (racetrack casinos): an in-person request for reinstatement is mandated;

Florida (racetrack casinos): A written request, and evidence of treatment, is required from the excluded individual; further, the casino manager must indicate in writing why the ban should be lifted;

Maine, New Mexico, and West Virginia (racetrack casinos): a petition is necessary for reinstatement; some New York racinos also require a petition for reinstatement;

SKYCITY Adelaide in Australia: excluders seeking reinstatement must undergo counseling, and agree to limits on both gambling spending and casino visits;

Ontario and Nova Scotia, in Canada: petitions are required for early reinstatement, and an investigation is then triggered;

Singapore: self- or family-excluded individuals must apply in person for reinstatement;

South Africa: an application, plus evidence of treatment, are required for reinstatement;

United Kingdom: an application for reinstatement is required, with a one-day cooling off period before the ban can be lifted.

Motivating Workouts

Self-exclusion noted a gym where non-attendance at scheduled workouts results in fines. The fine system is presumably motivated by the gym's capacity constraints: popular classes are over-subscribed, so reservations are required. The fines dissuade people from making, but then not honoring, their reservations. The system is similar to cancellation fees for hotels or airlines or upscale restaurants.

Via the Freakonomics blog, we learn of a Boston-area gym-pricing option that features higher fees for missed workouts. The variant of the fee schedule that involves enhanced payments for missing a daily workout has much in common with the fines imposed by the Chicago gym. Nevertheless, the motivations behind the two plans seem to be quite different: one is about managing a capacity constraint, and the other is about bolstering workout incentives. (And as the Boston plan is one that is self-selected among other fee arrangements, perhaps there is a systematic difference in the "types" of exercisers in the two locales.) Does the motivation behind the pricing scheme matter, or will the two similar plans produce similar results in terms of exercise behavior?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Foreigners Can Self-Exclude in Singapore

In the lead-up to the opening of two resort casinos, Singapore established a self-exclusion program. At first, self-exclusion was made available only to Singapore citizens and permanent residents. In recent months, however, the self-exclusion option has been extended to foreigners living in Singapore who hold temporary work permits. To get out the word, the institution that manages the self-exclusion program sent out 95,000 letters to employers, letting them know that their foreign workers now have access to casino self-exclusion.The employers themselves will not be able to initiate the casino exclusion of their employees. (Other types of involuntary exclusions are allowed in Singapore, including bans initiated at the behest of family members of a gambler.) Employers can facilitate a voluntary self-exclusion, however -- and it might be hard for a foreign worker to reject the proffered aid.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Missouri's Introduction of Self-Exclusion

In the United States, the first government-sponsored self-exclusion program was instituted by the state of Missouri in 1996. One of the people involved with the creation of the Missouri program has written a brief essay describing the initiation of self-exclusion; the essay, "The Emergence of Self-Exclusion Programs," appears on pages 3 to 6 of a 2010 publication (54-page pdf here) from the National Center for Responsible Gaming. (The entire volume, brought to my attention by the Pennsylvania press release linked in the previous post, is devoted to self-exclusion; more commentary on the volume, I suspect, will e-materialize on this blog in the future.) Missouri's voluntary self-exclusion program emanated from publicity concerning its involuntary program. Like many jurisdictions, Missouri bars some individuals (often those with gambling-related offenses in their background) from entering casinos. When a list of such excluded individuals made the news in 1995, a person suffering with his inability to control his gambling asked if he similarly could be banned. From such humble beginnings has grown a program that now includes more than 15,000 people who have volunteered for a lifetime ban on patronizing Missouri's casinos.

Friday, February 4, 2011

2,000 Applicants for Pennsylvania Self-Exclusion

Legal casinos came to Pennsylvania in late 2006, accompanied by a system of self-exclusion that applies to all gambling locales in the state. Within six months, more than 50 people had signed up for exclusion. Since that time, self-exclusion has been something of a growth industry in Pennsylvania: in January, 2011, the state announced that 2,000 erstwhile gamblers had made use of its self-exclusion service -- and more than one-quarter of these had chosen a lifetime ban over the one-year and five-year options, though the one-year ban was the majority choice. The one-year and five-year exclusions do not simply expire; rather, the excluded gambler has to request that the self-imposed ban be lifted after the exclusion period has elapsed.