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When Casinos Prey On Problem Gamblers

By Chuckmonster on Friday, 2nd October 2015 10:40am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 3


The American Gaming Association is a one stop shop of lobbyists, legal road pavers, political action groups, industry event planners and pro-gambling researchers dedicated to expand the gambling industry. The AGA interfaces with federal, local and jurisdictional government entities to solicit, write and enact new legislation, coordinate voting campaigns and put the gaming industry's expansion plans into action.

This week, the AGA held their annual conflagration, the Global Gaming Expo. The G2E is a ginormous industry powwow containing an orgy of panel discussions, keynote speeches, award ceremonies, back of house deal making and a jaw dropping display of the latest and greatest in casino gaming technology on the convention floor. Oooo! Real Housewives of New York slot machines! Ramona is suuuuuch a bitch!

It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.

One of the primary sources of "misinformation" the AGA fights is citizens fighting the encroachment of casinos in their back yards. Citizen groups usually claim that casinos destroy the fabric of communities and cause heart break and financial ruin for people who become addicted to gambling.

The industry claims to never prey on problem gamblers, enacting policies to wave players off, allow self exclusion and putting "When the Fun Stops" pamphlets near ATM's and the casino cage.

Then how do you explain this:

The marquee at Whiskey Pete's Hotel & Casino on the California/Nevada state line in Primm, NV proudly reminds everyone passing by that they can "Get Even Before Leaving." Is this a witty rhyme by the marquee writer or a casino purposefully targeting problem gamblers?

The concept of "needing to get even" is a hallmark trait of problem gambling behavior, and question #7 on Gamblers Anonymous "Are you a problem gambler?" questionnaire.

So what does the American Gaming Association, really have to say about problem gambling? I Googled "AGA problem gambling" and clicked on the first result.

This is what loaded on the AGA website:

If you want information about problem gambling from the American Gaming Association, it "looks like you're out of luck."

Nice graphic.

Tagged: aga   g2e   gamblers anonymous   whiskey petes   primm   addiction   when the fun stops   


Comments & Discussion:

I hear problem gambling hotlines love it when you call and ask "I have a problem gambling: How can I do it better?"

Jokes aside, I wonder how much (if any) training is given to dealers about spotting and stopping problem gamblers. Bartenders aren't supposed to overserve, either.

But I bet professionals in both of those industries would (rightfully) tell me how hard it is to spot some addicts.

Problem gambling exists but its prevalence is greatly overstated, and it is basically impossible to "quantify" when gambling becomes a problem on a group level.

The medicalization of problem gambling is terrible. Tons of so-called 'addictions' don't reach the biological threshold for dependency at all. We're far too willing to treat people as "addicted" to things they simply do habitually. And a lot of so-called "addictions" arise from things like boredom and poverty moreso than any activity or substance's ability to render someone dependent on it (see Dr. Carl Hart's work on the subject - he gave cocaine-addicted rats a bunch of other things to do BESIDES cocaine and the result was that the rats strongly moderated their cocaine consumption).

Actual problem gamblers need help, but a gambling hobby is not a gambling problem. We panic far too much about gambling problems, which affect only a small minority of gamblers.

Not to mention that paranoia over "problem gambling" at slot machines is often used to prevent more casinos (and therefore more table games) from opening up.

I am reminded of a friend in Detroit commenting on the debate to allow gaming there 15-20 years ago, "That's all Detroit needs more gangs, drugs, and hookers". I do feel there are societal ills that happen in a casino, however few want to systematically go after the ills. The ACA seems to pay just enough lip service to soothe the bureaucrats in jurisdictions. Then again considering their raison d'etre it might be what you can (and maybe should) expect from that stakeholder. That all said I think Nevada, ground zero, does a good job of trying to alleviate the societal ills and balance the liberty we expect.

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