Vice Squad
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Private Response to Problem Gambling

Many states in recent years have set up self-exclusion lists
for gamblers. People who sign onto the list are then barred
from casinos in the state. The idea is to help bolster the self-
control of problem gamblers.

The world's largest casino company, Park Place casinos,
intends to go one (or two) better. They will maintain a similar
list that folks who are concerned about their gambling problem
can join. One additional feature, however, is that Park Place
itself is also willing to take the initiative, and to bar people
whom it identifies as having a gaming problem. (Usually these
people are known by casinos as "our best customers".) The
second feature of the Park Place initiative is that to back up
their policy, people who are on the list will forfeit any jackpots
that they win -- i.e. they will be barred from winning any
substantial amounts, even if they manage to slip into the
casino. Sounds like a particularly effective way to take the
lure out of gambling.

It will be interesting to see the lawsuit that will arise when
the first person is involuntarily banned, and the one that will
follow the first denial of payment of a jackpot. Last month,
Overlawyered reported on a lawsuit filed by those who felt
that Detroit-area casinos were not enforcing strictly enough
the exclusion list that the plaintiffs had voluntarily joined --
the gamblers could have been jailed for up to a year for
going to a casino after they had joined the list!

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