Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gamblefree Day and Kiwi Third-Party Exclusions

For the last eight years, September 1 has been Gamblefree Day in New Zealand, when problem gambling is highlighted. One of the methods that New Zealand has adopted to combat problem gambling is self-exclusion. The guidelines for exclusion seem very sophisticated, and they include provisions for casinos to involuntarily exclude suspected problem gamblers and for family members and other third parties to raise a call for increased scrutiny that could lead to an involuntary exclusion. As the guidelines note, "One of the most common indicators of problem gambling is notification from a relation, friend or family member of the patron." Many areas of New Zealand allow for multi-venue exclusions. In July, one locale with pokie machines was forced to turn off the machines for two days because a gambler seeking exclusion was not, in fact, excluded.

Skycity operates hotels and casinos in New Zealand. If a Skycity casino wants to exclude a suspected problem gambler, it gives the gambler a chance to voluntarily self-exclude first -- but given that a refusal to self-exclude will lead to an imposed two-year ban, it is hard to endorse the notion that such an exclusion is fully voluntary.

New Zealand also promotes responsible gambling by requiring slot machines to display a clock and the amount won or lost, along with reminders to take breaks.

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