Friday, February 10, 2012

Self-Exclusion as a Substitute for Mandatory Limits?

The Australian government is attempting to require that all players of "pokies" (electronic gaming machines) at clubs and pubs choose an expenditure limit. When they hit that limit, the players would have to wait (24 hours?) before they could resume gambling. The Australian loyal opposition is looking into alternative measures, including a national self-exclusion system. Perhaps more controversial is the possibility of third-party or family exclusions, where someone can be barred from gambling following an application not from the gambler him or herself, but from a close family member. Of course, family exclusions already exist in Singapore -- and in Australia! Another measure that the opposition is considering is to remove ATM access at gambling locales for would-be punters on the exclusion list. The inquiry by the Australian opposition is slated to be completed by the end of the month.

Illinois Casinos and Self-Exclusion

The lack of recent posting is due to my neglect and not to any slowdown of developments in the fast-paced world of exclusion and other commitment devices. One neglected article from last October contained some interesting information about the state-wide casino self-exclusion program right here in Illinois. Here are three tidbits:

(1) "Harrah’s employees receive a $500 reward if they catch one of the individuals from that [self-exclusion] database in their casino."

(2) There are over 8,500 people on the Illinois self-exclusion list, which dates to 2002. Since that time, over 1,700 arrests have been made, presumably for excluded gamblers trespassing on casino property.

(3) The Illinois exclusion program involves a duration of five years, but reinstatement as an eligible gambler requires that a counselor provide an affidavit indicating that the individual is capable of controlled gambling. "More than 30 self-excluders have attempted to be removed from the list, the gaming board says. However, none of them have been able to provide sufficient evidence..." Wow.

Thanks to the author of the article, John Solymossy, for digging a little deeper than often is the case.

Update: The FAQ section of the Illinois Gaming Board's Self-Exclusion website gives a slightly different interpretation on reinstatement. Here it is:
The Illinois Self-Exclusion Program is for life. Removal from the list of Self-Excluded persons is very difficult. After five years a Self-Excluded person may request removal from the Self-Exclusion List. However, in order to be removed from the Self-Exclusion List, a Self-Excluded person must provide an affidavit from a licensed mental health professional who is also a certified gambling addictions counselor. The affidavit, which must be addressed to the Administrator of the Illinois Gaming Board, must attest and confirm that the licensed, certified gambling addictions counselor has determined that the Self-Excluded person no longer is a problem gambler and can gamble responsibly. Obtaining such an affidavit will be difficult.  The Administrator will take such an affidavit into consideration when deciding if a person should be removed from the Self-Exclusion List. If the submission meets the requirements for removal, there may be further investigation required by the IGB before considering the request. The IGB’s legal staff may also seek public action from the five members of the Illinois Gaming Board in order to remove a Self-Excluded person from the Self-Exclusion List.  In addition, a person seeking removal from the Self-Exclusion List must provide the following:
  • Documentation as to treatment received for the person’s gambling problem, length of treatment, and names and qualifications of treatment providers.
  • A written recommendation, from a qualified mental health professional who is a certified gambling counselor, as to the person's capacity to participate in gambling without adverse health and mental health risks or consequences related to gambling.  “Certified gambling counselor" means an individual who has completed a specific course of study in the treatment of problem gambling and has been certified by a certification organization acceptable to the Board. Those organizations include the following: National Council on Problem Gambling, American Compulsive Gambling Counselor Certification Board and the Illinois Dept of Human Services.
  • Upon request of the Administrator, a written recommendation, from a second or subsequent physician or qualified mental health professional who is a certified gambling counselor, as to the self-excluded person's capacity to participate in gambling without adverse health and mental health risks or consequences related to gambling.
  • All information required under Section 3000.755(a), including name, address, date of birth, social security number, a copy of the person’s driver’s license, a physical description and a current photograph.
  • A statement informing the Administrator whether the person has been present at any riverboat gaming operations while on the Self-Exclusion List and, if so, the names of the riverboat operations at which the person was present and dates and times of attendance.
  • A waiver of liability of the Board, its agents and the State of Illinois for any damages that may arise out of any act or omission committed by the person as a consequence of his or her removal from the Self-Exclusion List, including any monetary or other damages sustained in connection with the person's renewal of any gaming activities.
  • A verified, written consent to the release of all of the person's medical and counseling records related to the proposed removal from the Self-Exclusion List.
  • Any additional information, forms, recommendations, or other materials necessary, as determined by the Administrator, to demonstrate the elimination of the mental health or medical condition underlying the person's acknowledgement that he or she has been a problem gambler and unable to gamble responsibly.