Update: November 18: The Boston Globe is reporting that the state’s Gambling Commission is likely to require the state’s licensed casinos and its licensed slots parlor to assist gamblers who want to set limits on how much they gamble. Yay, us!
In our last episode we saw that, post-election, there are still many decisions to be made about about the gambling industry in Massachusetts, and there may be opportunities for the 840,000 or so of us who voted “yes” on Question 3 to influence those decisions.
Here comes an opportunity now.
As the Globe reported Monday, the state’s Gaming Commission is considering whether the casino industry ought to assist gamblers who want to set limits on how much they gamble. The assistance would work this way: before sitting down in front of a slot machine, a casino patron decides that setting, say, a $50 limit on gambling losses that day would be a prudent idea. This amount is entered into a “loyalty card,” which tracks that individual’s gambling activity throughout the casino. As the losses mount, the patron is informed, through the loyalty card, that the $50 limit is approaching. If the the player reaches the limit, he or she can still choose to override it and continue to play, but at least there’s been a reminder.
This assistance is known in the industry as a “play management system.” Considering that it’s voluntary for casino patrons in the first place, you might be wondering what possible reasons the gambling industry would have for opposing it. Here they are. First, borrowing from the strategy of climate science deniers, the industry contends that there is no scientific evidence showing that a play management system works and a whole lot more study is needed before it is instituted here. Second, the industry wonders whether gamblers might respond inappropriately to a play management system. They might, for example, set very, very high limits so that they never hit them and end up losing more money than if they had never set a limit in the first place. Isn’t it sweet of the casinos to care about us like this?
The industry will be exerting its considerable power to try to convince the state Gaming Commission to abandon this very modest proposal to counter gambling addiction. So what can you do?
The Gaming Commission is asking for your opinion. You can send an email (ideally before 5 PM tomorrow, November 13) to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Play Management System” as the subject line, asking the Commission to require the companies with gambling licenses here in the state to make a play management system available to casino and slot parlor customers. It is, almost literally, the least the industry can do.
We’ll keep you posted.