The G4 Board and it’s
members wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Responsible gambling knowledge in Europe
could be better
A UK academic who has presented some controversial
studies in the past, Professor Mark Griffiths from
Nottingham Trent University, has presented a report on responsible gambling
research to the European Parliament in collaboration with British MEP
The report “Problem Gambling in Europe” highlights
the lack of known empirical evidence surrounding gambling and problem
gambling, presenting an overview that suggests that many governments are
not doing enough research into this critical important subject.
Professor Griffiths conducted a country-by-country analysis of the
known empirical evidence on gambling and problem gambling in Europe and
found that only one-third of the nations surveyed had carried out comprehensive
The findings will be read with considerable interest in an environment
where state gambling monopolies frequently justify their stranglehold on
national markets by claiming that it is to protect citizens from compulsive
Griffiths revealed that countries that had carried out national studies on gambling
and problem gambling of varying representativeness, quality and empirical
rigour included Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain,
The Netherlands, Lithuania, Sweden and Switzerland.
However, he found Austria, France, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Slovakia,
Slovenia and Spain lacking, commenting that these countries had only
conducted their research at a regional or local level.
And almost nothing is known about gambling and problem gambling in
Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg,
Malta, Poland and Portugal.
“The debate about gambling is multi-faceted,” said Adrian
Morris, deputy managing director for StanleyBet, which has seen its share
of legal struggles against state monopolies.
“Many reasons and interpretations are put forward as to why a
particular [European Union] state does or does not grant access to its
market by operators from other Member States, be they online or offline, be
they casino, betting or other type of gambling operator.
“I have become increasingly concerned that this debate is
informed by little or no information and the argumentation seems to be
based on myths appealing to emotion rather than facts informing reason and
leading to policymaking. Unfortunately, to this day, it seems that emotion
continues to overrule facts.”
The Griffith report comes in a week where the Las Vegas Sun newspaper
drew attention to startling new research into gambling addiction involving
functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the human brain during
The scans provided the first biological evidence of what treatment
providers had long known from working with the hardest cases: For addicts,
gambling is truly compulsive and becomes all-important - eclipsing
commitments to family and work with a need not unlike scoring drugs and
The research hopefully opens the way to more effective help for the
small but tragic percentage of gamblers who fall prey to addiction.
The Las Vegas Sun article reports that a growing collection of research
has found that the most afflicted gamblers have the kinds of biological
brain disorders that are found among drug and alcohol abusers.
“Before the relatively recent use of MRI machines, scientists
could only view people’s behavior, dissect the brains of the deceased
or study brain chemistry by drawing fluid from the body. Functional
magnetic resonance imaging allows real-time study of the brain by measuring
changes in blood flow as well as oxygen levels in the blood,” the
The report goes on to examine the phenomenon of dopamine, a feel-good
chemical secreted by the brain which in the words of one eminent researcher
‘highjacks’ the brain’s reward system to create intense
cravings and an obsessive focus on gambling.
“The brain pulls off this mutiny by figuring out that, if it can
identify and connect with an addictive target - say, a slot machine - it
can produce its own jackpot - a flood of rewarding dopamine,” the
article explains. “Triggering that dopamine overflow can overwhelm
brain circuits that normally moderate risky behavior.”
Addicts in this situation seek out gambling not for pleasure, but for
the dopamine rush, which in turn creates a vicious circle where the person
focuses more intensely on gambling
at the expense of everything else.
In further studies, the dopamine rush among addicted research subjects
occurred before any gambling and in response to cues indicating that
gambling was about to occur, such as an image of a slot machine or the
person’s favourite casino.
26 November 2009
Could the game be partly to blame for addiction?
Hoping to solve the
decades-old mystery of why some people develop gambling problems, a growing
number of researchers are studying the other side of the equation: the
games that gamblers fixate on.
Casinos and slot makers have
long been accused of fueling gambling addiction. When video poker became
known as the crack cocaine of gambling, Si Redd, the founder of slot giant International
Game Technology who created the modern video poker machine and who died in
2003, didn’t get defensive. Instead, he advised addicts to get help
and move from Nevada,
“Of course it hurts me
when such things are said, I guess because it is kind of the truth,”
Redd, then retired, told the Sun in 2001. “I never intended it to
become that way, and I never could have dreamed of how successful the video
poker machine would become.”
In fact, if the industry has
learned one thing in its constant hunt for more popular slot machines,
it’s that there’s no magic formula for what makes a machine
successful. Some players prefer big jackpot games that pay back less
frequently, and others like games that hit frequently, though in smaller
increments, for example.
And researchers don’t
know why many problem gamblers in Las Vegas tell addiction counselors that
they succumb to video poker — a device that has changed little over
the years relative to slot machines with catchy themes and high-tech
features — while other gambling addicts, especially in other parts of
the world, are drawn to other kinds of games.
Indeed, the role that various
elements in a casino play in the addiction process — defined by
experts as the relationship between a person and the object of his
obsession — is up for debate.
Slot and video poker machines
get the most attention from problem-gambling researchers in part because
most people who seek treatment appear to be hooked on machines. That makes
sense to some observers, who believe that slots, for addicts, behave like
fast-acting drugs in that they allow gamblers to play rapidly and thus
trigger rewards that more quickly reinforce such behavior.
Others say the implication
that machines cause the problem is false.
“This focus on
‘things’ is taking us totally off base,” said Christine Reilly,
executive director of the industry-sponsored Institute for Research on
Gambling Disorders. “People drink excessively and don’t become
alcoholics. Things aren’t addictive. But people want a quick fix and
think if we ‘fix’ all the machines, we’ll fix the problem
associated with it. It’s not that simple.”
The machines' tease
In general, the same elements
that make games attractive to casual gamblers may also make them addictive
to others, says Mark
Griffiths, a psychology professor and director of the International
Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham
He is among dozens of
researchers who have developed and tested multiple theories about how
different elements and designs of machines influence behavior, including:
• Gamblers long ago
gave up their buckets of quarters in favor of machines that operate with
“virtual” money — racking up and deducting credits instead
of hard cash and dispensing paper tickets that need to be redeemed for
cash. It is cleaner, easier, saves the casino money — and is
psychologically pleasing because turning money into credits has the effect
of gently separating the gambler from his cash.
• Bonus rounds —
when a player is rewarded with a free spin on a separate game within the
primary one — indulge the player’s sense of involvement with a
slot machine. Similarly, features allowing players to decide when to stop a
spinning reel or the ability to “nudge” a symbol onto the pay
line can give the illusion of control.
• Many slots come alive
with the sound of a payoff even for “hits” that in fact only
pay back a fraction of the amount wagered. Gamblers tend to report these as
“wins” rather than a minimized net loss because they focus on
winnings while ignoring losses, or the amount of money spent to get those
• Sound effects, video
snippets, celebrity voices, musical sequences and even certain colors add
to the entertainment value of the machines.
It’s all about
entertainment, the gaming industry says.
The industry view
Indeed, casinos and slot
makers don’t want addicts because they create legal and financial
problems for them, said Glenn Christenson, chairman of the industry-sponsored
National Center for Responsible Gaming and
former chief financial officer for Station Casinos, one of many gaming
giants that donate money to treatment and research efforts.
“Most of the
enlightened gaming companies, the vast majority of them, understand
there’s no upside to pursuing problem gamblers,” Christenson
said. “At some point there’s going to be issues with them that
the industry doesn’t need. Companies feel they are better off being
supportive rather than ignoring the problem. I’m not sure 30 years
ago I would have been able to say that.”
Game designers like to
consider themselves more a part of the movie-production business than the
gambling business because their job is to create products that hold
Creating machines that entice
gamblers to play longer might sound like a conscious effort to cultivate
addicted gamblers. Slot companies don’t see it that way.
“This is a competitive
industry. Our game designers are trying to keep the games fun and exciting
and better than Brand X,” said Connie Jones, director
of responsible gaming for International Game Technology.
IGT hired Jones, the first
executive of her kind in the gaming industry, eight years ago to help
demystify gambling machines to a skeptical public and disseminate
problem-gambling research to governments legalizing gambling, among other
By spending millions of
research dollars on bells and whistles such as animated cartoons and sound
clips, and creating hundreds of different games a year, slot companies aim
to seek out the broadest possible audience rather than home in on any one
niche, said Marcus Fortunato, owner of Dingo Systems, a Las Vegas company
that develops slot machines for manufacturers worldwide. Compulsive
gamblers, by contrast, appear to be drawn to simpler machines featuring
such gambling basics as a
hand of video poker or easily deciphered reels of
cherries and 7s, as they probably don’t need more elaborate features
to get their fix, he said.
Added Mike Shackleford, a Las
Vegas-based mathematician and former actuary who analyzes and designs slot
machines: “Slot companies don’t sit around their boardrooms and
talk about how to make their machines addictive.”
Natasha Dow Schüll, a
cultural anthropologist at MIT who has spent years interviewing gamblers,
casino officials and slot manufacturers in Las Vegas in an attempt to uncover the
pull of slot machines, agrees.
And yet Schüll, whose
book documenting machine gambling and compulsive behavior, “Addiction
By Design,” will be published next year, says machines play more of a
role in the addiction process than the industry would care to admit.
“This isn’t like
buying shoes,” she said. “These are potent and powerful devices
that are effective in shifting your inner mood and state.”
People with gambling problems
told Schüll of “zoning out” in front of a machine and
gambling for gambling’s sake rather than for reasons that make sense
to casual gamblers and are cited by manufacturers, such as the pleasure of
winning something, however small, or the anticipation of a big jackpot.
Although slot machines are
regulated for randomness and a minimum payback for players, they
aren’t subjected to consumer protection laws or warnings like
alcohol, tobacco and other consumer products that affect behavior or
personal health, said Schüll, who doesn’t advocate any
particular regulatory approach toward gambling.
Some countries are tackling
the problem more proactively by tinkering with the machines themselves
— an approach the industry says is motivated more by politics and
public relations than science.
Hit by a rash of class-action
lawsuits by gamblers, the Canadian government, which owns some of that
country’s casinos and slot machines, has in some areas imposed
“smart cards” that allow players club members to opt into
various “safety” features on the machines, including a record
of what players have won or lost and the ability to set budgets and time
Some Canadian casinos are
using information tracked by the cards — data used for marketing
purposes by American casinos — to identify problematic behavior and
intervene on gamblers’ behalf. Some of these casinos use biometric
software to match problem gamblers with photos on file, including people
who have filled out paperwork to voluntarily ban themselves from the casino
In Australia, where publicity
about gambling addiction has fueled a politically popular “war
against gambling,” governments have slowed down the speed at which
machines play, limited the number of machines that can be offered and, in
certain areas, prevented the further spread of machines.
Nova Scotia commissioned one of the few major studies on
responsible gambling features such as pop-up reminder clocks, mandatory
cash-outs and meters showing how much is spent in dollars and cents. It
found that some features had little to no effect on the play of problem
gamblers, though players reported losing track of time and money a smaller
percentage of the time.
Some safety features —
such as forced time limits — might have the opposite effect by
prompting compulsive gamblers to gamble more or faster knowing they will
shortly be cut off from the object of their obsession, said Bo Bernhard, director of
problem-gambling research at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.
It’s unrealistic to
believe that people in the throes of an addiction can be swayed by warnings
or other educational features on a slot machine — though the
technology holds the potential to prevent people from developing gambling
problems down the road, Bernhard said.
“This is a
psychological disorder that needs to be treated by professionals, not a
machine,” he said.
Added Jones of IGT: “If
there was any solid, peer-reviewed research that identified specific game
characteristics as harmful, all manufacturers would be required to avoid
incorporating them into games. If IGT designed our games around speculation
about what may be harmful, we would likely be out of business in short
Still, education about how
slot machines work — which includes debunking gambling myths such as
“lucky” games — has an important place in the treatment
of compulsive gamblers, according to some experts.
Clinical psychologist Robert Breen, who
directs the Rhode Island Gambling Treatment Program at Rhode Island Hospital,
is among several psychologists who have successfully treated gambling
addicts by incorporating information about slot machine math into an
“But once that person
is sitting in front of the machine,” Breen said, “they’re
dead meat for the rest of the night at that point.”
Las Vegas Sun, 24 November
Delivery of specialist help for problem gamblers under threat
Funding for GamCare’s
integrated and specialist national help services for problem gamblers is
under threat by a proposal from the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board to
‘commission a national telephone help and advice line with web
support’ at a cost of £1m a year. 250,000 gambling machines
around the country, advice websites, gambling premises and countless
leaflets bear the GamCare number. In 2008, over 50,000 people contacted us
for practical help, advice, emotional support and signposting from
GamCare’s team of specifically trained and experienced advisers. Our
frontline services, by ‘phone and online, cost GamCare just
£800,000 a year to run.
The proposal is one of
several put forward by the Strategy Board for problem gambling treatment
and prevention. The Strategy Board also proposes £50k to
redevelop the underused Gamble Aware website. Not one of GamCare’s
332,000 web visitors in 2009 have come via this site.
Chief Executive Andy McLellan
“Problem gambling may
be costing the country as much as £2 billion a year. We know that
less than 1% of people who could benefit from treatment are actually
getting it. So the need for action is not only clear – it is also
“We fully endorse the
RGSB’s commitment to making decisions based on evidence and
evaluation, and therefore welcome their proposals to review best practice
in the fields of prevention and treatment. This work is overdue, and we
will cooperate fully to find out what works and to improve our services.
“But we think the Board
has been premature in coming to conclusions in advance of this review.
“An independent and
impartial national helpline already exists and is working well. The GamCare
HelpLine, costing just over £800k in 2008/9, is valued by its users,
other treatment providers and the industry, which has made a considerable
investment over 12 years in its creation, development and promotion. 94% of
its users say it is either excellent or very good. It is far from clear
what benefits there would be for problem gamblers or their families in
creating a new helpline with a new number. We are particularly concerned
that the RGSB thinks the helpline should be separated from treatment
provision, when our HelpLine is in fact the first line of treatment. We
believe the changes proposed would be detrimental to the quality and
effectiveness of the service. There would also be considerable extra
one-off and continuing costs for the industry, with no extra benefits for
Chairman Anthony Jennens
“What is needed is
urgent action to reach more problem gamblers and their families. The
quickest and most efficient way to do this is to build on the work
we’re already doing in partnership with other charities and the NHS
– and not to ignore the investment the industry has made over more
than 12 years. At this time of public expenditure cuts, it seems to us
unrealistic to expect the NHS to take on the lead responsibility for
problem gambling, and it is inappropriate to expect the industry to pay for
NHS services. Working within the funds being raised now by the industry, we
could expand our counselling to reach 90% of Great Britain by 2012, and
build stronger relationships between charities, agencies and the NHS at the
grassroots, where they really matter to individuals and communities. I do
hope the RGSB and the Gambling Commission will think again.”
- encourages the RGSB to
explore further the scope for synergies in research funded by other parts
of Government, so allowing more of the funds raised by industry to go
towards treatment and prevention
- proposes a clearer
distinction between the research needed to allow the Government and the
regulator to inform its policies, legislation and regulation – which
are legitimately areas for Government funding – and those areas
directly connected to treatment and prevention, which seem appropriate for
- urges much greater clarity
about the purpose, costs and benefits of the Gambleaware website before
funding is committed to it.
des Casinos, 30 November 2009
Pokies cap won’t stop problem gamblers
It is a
myth that your chances of winning on poker machines improve the longer you
play. Every time you play, regardless of how long you have been playing,
your chances of winning are the same. Debunking this myth is one way clubs
have contributed to a reduction in the number of problem gamblers in Australia.
that remains, perpetuated this week in a Productivity Commission draft
report, is that technology exists that allows Australia's 125,000 problem
gamblers to place regular, daily bets.
commission's Louise Sylvan told ABC radio problem gamblers wanted to be
able to determine how much they spent when they gambled, and it was on this
basis that she supported technology known as pre-commitment.
seem like manna from heaven to problem gamblers who, until now, have been
assisted by counsellors helping them acknowledge that gambling is a vice
they cannot control, and that their best course of action is to walk away.
commission wants problem gamblers to obtain a licence to gamble.
Unfortunately, the 99 per cent of people who are not problem gamblers would
be required to apply for the same licence, and face the same restrictions.
requires a chip and hardware be fitted to 190,000 poker machines in Australia.
Each machine would be linked, so a computer could track how much money you
had played on a poker machine that day.
machine would be card-operated, and no card means no play. Bad luck for
tourists, or anyone resistant to the idea of registering for a quasi
Australia Card. Big Brother has more: once you register, you would be told
how much you could gamble. Reach that amount, and the machine would shut
down. You would then be unable to play for 24 hours.
punters would shake their head, wonder how the government could tell them
how they spent their money, and probably leave the club. The problem
gambler is not so easily discouraged.
gambling is not an illness that can be treated like a cold. It is a
psychological condition. Americans call it pathological gambling,
a far more accurate description.
problem gambler will not be 'cured' simply by reaching their daily bet
limit. They could buy, borrow or steal other cards to continue gambling. Or
switch to another form of gambling, probably online. The commission gives
the green light to online gambling and its use of credit cards despite
evidence it is four times more addictive than 'land-based' gambling.
appear the commission is committed to a 'try anything' approach to reduce
problem gambling. In NSW, clubs have had poker machines for more than 60
years. If you read the report and its dire claims, you would have to ask,
how has the community survived?
start, clubs, unlike hotels and casinos, are not-for-profit organisations.
They invest in sporting facilities, food and entertainment, employ 45,000
people and pay more than $1 billion each year in tax. Last year the
Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal concluded clubs made an $811
million annual social contribution. But that is only possible because of poker
not mean we turn our backs on problem gamblers. The combined efforts of
clubs and the NSW Government have achieved a substantial decline in problem
gambling, which the commission itself estimates to now be no more than 1
per cent of the adult population.
records of G-line, the counselling service, show the calls it receives have
fallen for the past seven years to half of what it was when the service
started. Many counselling services have told me their numbers have also fallen
recently but understandably refuse to speak up for fear of losing their
It is not
easy to balance reducing problem gambling against those of us who enjoy
the draft report's recommendations will help few. It will not help the
average Australian who likes to put $50 through the pokies after a show at
the RSL on a Saturday, and it will not help the problem gambler.
commission cited Norway
as a model. But it has poker machines in newsagencies, service stations,
train stations, even supermarkets. It does not have registered clubs.
Australians need to decide if this is the gambling future they want.
Age, 23 October 2009
rules on the internet poker
-- In Denmark,
earning a living from playing poker is illegal, even if online poker games
are offered from outside the Scandinavian country, a Supreme Court ruling
found this week.
Copenhagen Post reports that a 35-year-old unemployed man was ordered by the
court to surrender 194 000 kroner he won playing online poker - his sole
income won over the course of a year - because he had violated Danish laws
banning earning a living from gambling.
was a little kinder in cancelling a 5 000 kroner fine the man had been
given by the Eastern High Court when he was originally convicted in
the issue is the fact that the decision covered only poker tournaments, and
online poker per se was not considered during the trial.
based its decision to waive the fine on the uncertainty over rules
governing internet poker.
is the second person found guilty of the charge in recent months, the
newspaper reports. In June, the Eastern High Court found a well established
organiser of poker tournaments guilty of the same charge.
sentence was later overturned by the Supreme Court, although it upheld laws
banning poker tournaments.
significant part of the Supreme Court ruling is that even though computer
servers used to run the poker games are placed outside of Denmark, the individual
computer used to play the game is located in the country and subject to
Danish law. In other words, the actual gambling action is deemed to take
place on the player's computer.
estimated 50 000 Danes play online poker, according to poker website
for the state emphasised that the decision does not outlaw online gambling.
will decide on a case by case basis whether someone is playing
professionally," Crown Prosecutor Svend Larsen said.
Poker, 10 September 2009
Egaming regulation – the only way is up
SEPTEMBER THE European Court of Justice (ECJ) published its judgement in
the preliminary ruling proceedings in the case between Bwin and Liga
Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional versus the Portuguese monopoly Santa
Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. In these proceedings, the ECJ
assessed whether the Portuguese sports betting and lottery monopoly and its
extension to include the internet was compliant with EU law.
particular, the ECJ examined “whether the freedom to provide services
precludes the Portuguese legislation in so far as the latter
prohibits operators such as Bwin, established in other member states where
they lawfully provide similar services, from offering games of chance via
the internet in Portugal.”
ruling was very specific to the Portuguese situation and the ECJ did not
decide on the legality of Santa Casa’s monopoly but only rejected an
automatic mutual recognition. Therefore, the consequences of the judgement
are limited and the ECJ judgement also has no effect on previous rulings
such as Gambelli or Placanica.
judgement also cannot be generalised to serve as a precedent for future ECJ
rulings on gaming, including on the legality of monopolies and prohibitions
of other member states. It should not have any impact in other member
states as a result.
statement contained in the ruling that bricks-and-mortar betting and gaming
are better suited for customer protection or fraud control is absurd. The
reality is that the internet warrants greater security than land-based
gaming because of the audit trail and transparency made possible by digital
distribution channels: highest security standards can be met to warrant
customer protection and fraud control in particular.
founding member of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), Bwin
helped develop the compulsory Code of Conduct for private online gaming
providers. This code stipulates strict controls which, given the
transparency of the internet, have proven more efficient in the internet
than in traditional land-based gaming and, in particular, conclusively
prevent any type of fraud. The European Sports Association (ESSA), whose
efforts also serve to prevent betting manipulation, has successfully been
able to implement this.
again the need for a contemporary regulation of online gaming becomes
clear. A legal vacuum exists in the European gaming sector because of the
rapid pace of technological progress. Among other things, this is borne out
by over a dozen preliminary ruling proceedings still pending before the ECJ
as well as numerous infringement proceedings against EU member states.
rulings will not be able to fill in for a regulation in the medium and long
run. It is now widely recognised that online gaming is a market reality and
that there is an urgent need to develop a legal framework in tune with the
times to warrant the interest of consumers, the state and operators. As a
consequence we are seeing an unprecedented trend towards regulation and
away from prohibition: for example Italy
has recently further expanded the scope of its licences, France is preparing for an opening of the
market, and Denmark and Spain
are planning to introduce regulation for online gaming.
also encouraging to see that initiatives to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act are gathering momentum in the US. There is no doubt in my
mind that the future looks bright for responsible online gaming operators.
Review Magazine, 29 October 2009
studies released this week indicate the presence of a particular gene, the
D-2 receptor, that may be the cause of substance abuse and compulsive
behaviors like problem gambling.
that some people's brains are pre-disposed to incidents of problem gambling
by genetic make-up were strengthened by the isolation of a gene that
apparently can cause abusive behavior, whether it be drug, alcohol, food,
sex, or gambling related. Scientific studies released this week in Chicago reveal that a
physical link to compulsive gambling may have been discovered, according to
reporting by CNN.
known as the D-2 receptor is stimulated in some people by the use of
substances beyond moderation, leading to what is commonly referred to as
think recognizing that there is some kind of physical link to what happens
to these individuals helps to put it into a framework," said Carol O'Hare, the
executive director of the Nevada Council for Problem Gambling. "We're
no longer talking about a moral judgment. We're no longer talking about
right or wrong."
pointed out this breakthrough means that problem gambling becomes a
treatable disorder. The discovery explains why the percentage of population
tending to have problem gambling issues remains at around three percent,
regardless of loose or strict gaming laws.
already had demonstrated a relationship between dopamine production and
compulsive gambling. The new study goes even further to alleviate concern
that online gambling or the proliferation of gaming outlets and casinos
leads to increasing numbers of problem gamblers, and makes those asserting
that certain forms of gaming are "the crack cocaine" of gambling
to appear the fool.
Casino Advisory, 6 September 2009
Eyes turn to France
as market opens up
the gambling industry has its eyes on France, and many operators
expect a boost for their business from the opening of the French online
gambling market that is scheduled for 2010. Their optimism seems to be
justified now that the draft of the legal bill opening up France's online
betting and poker market is just meters away from adoption; additionally
the online gambling market is expected to grow to Euro 1.7 billion (gross
revenues) by 2015. The consulting firm MECN and law firm Ulys have compiled
a new landmark report that offers an unprecedented in-depth analysis of the
French gambling market.
Liberalisation of interactive/online betting and
poker markets in spring/summer 2010
the key aspects of the planned liberalisation, which will probably take
effect in summer 2010, will be the opening of the interactive/online sports
and horse race betting markets as well as of online poker. Although the
draft regulation will likely be adapted, and many issues (e.g., tax
schemes) are still criticised by many operators, the strategies of most
operators clearly target France.
As one representative of an online gambling heavyweight put it: "We
will enter the French market as soon as possible – no matter what it
takes." According to MECN's new research, ca. 80% of the gambling
operators and experts surveyed consider the French market relevant or even
very relevant for their future business – this testifies to the hope
the entire industry places in this upcoming market.
Casino City, 23 September 2009
proposes ID requirements for casino’s
Alberta is considering compelling all patrons to show
photo identification at its casinos in a bid to stop banned problem
gamblers from making their way back through its doors.
proposal has similarities to the detection methods used in the Netherlands,
where every gambler must provide photo identification before entering a
a big change culturally for the province, for our industry," said Kent Verlik, executive
director of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission's social
responsibility division. "We have to be very careful in how we
approach these things."
Verlik said the regulator is researching the feasibility and public
acceptance of all gamblers having to provide photo identification before
entry. Under such a system, names would be crosschecked with those who have
signed voluntary self-exclusion agreements to ensure they don't get in.
enforce such agreements has been a vexing problem in Canada.
provinces have relied on a memory-based system - binders filled with
gamblers' photos - that has largely been seen as a failure, with gamblers
often returning to casinos, sparking lawsuits in Ontario,
Manitoba and Quebec.
and Mail series interviewed gamblers who had self-excluded but said they
returned repeatedly to casinos. It also exposed how government-owned
casinos are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on freebies - trips,
dinners, theatre tickets - to keep gamblers coming back, a practice of
which Ontario's New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath was particularly
you look at who it is who's providing at least a fair chunk of the change
that's coming into the casino doors, it's coming from problem
gamblers," Ms. Horwath said. "These ... high-rollers are the very
same ones who are often the most addicted gamblers, are often being lured
back into the casinos with their VIP perks."
gamblers provide roughly one-third of gambling revenue, studies show.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told reporters this week that the Ontario
Lottery and Gaming Corporation has invested $40-million in problem gambling
this year. He said there are challenges associated with addiction, and
"we always should be on the lookout to make sure we're doing the best
has come under heavy criticism in the past for failing to control
compulsive gambling, but Finance Minister Raymond Bachand said yesterday
that the number of video lottery terminals in the province has been
the number of locations where VLTs are installed has been cut by 30 per
is now among the world leaders with respect to social responsibility in
controlling gambling through various practices introduced recently,"
said Mr. Bachand, who is responsible for the province's gaming industry.
Simpson, the British Columbia NDP social development critic, whose purview
includes gaming, said in an interview that he was disturbed to read data in
The Globe series showing how some casino gamblers are individually losing
more than $1-million annually.
you have somebody who's playing hundreds and hundreds of hours ... it
should raise a flag for you that this is somebody who's pretty compulsive
about this activity and isn't showing much moderation here," Mr.
Simpson said. "And maybe we should be trying to identify whether we
In Alberta, there is
more to come for gamblers: Those who have signed the voluntary bans and
want to return to casinos must take a three-hour course first. And starting
Nov. 1, those who breach their self-bans could face a $250 fine, Mr. Verlik
Globe & Mail, 8 October 2009
Number of gamblers seeking help trebles
number of people attending Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meetings around the
country has doubled and in some places trebled over the past six months as
people can no longer afford their betting habits.
spokesman for GA said there has been a surge in people attending meetings
as addicts could no longer keep on top of gambling bills due to changed
"Less than a year ago meetings around Dublin city had just five or six people
– seven at most – but now some are catering for up to 30
people," the spokesman said.
There are several GA meetings every day of the week in the capital, he
"In the good times people could support the habit, they were on such
good money they were still able to the pay the bills," he said.
"Now they just can’t and need the support network of the
meetings to try and stop."
The spokesman said the extent of problem gambling still had not been fully
recognised in society and it was still very much a hidden addiction.
"Gambling is something that is seen as attractive and acceptable
– like the horses or the dogs – but no one realises how many
people are in trouble with it."
Provisional revenue figures for 2008 reveal that in excess of €3.6
billion was gambled in 1,093 betting shops during 2008.
The figure represents a rise of almost €300m from 2006, a slight
increase from 2007 – despite the decline in the number of bookies by
The figure does not include bets taken on-course, online gambling or the
Austin Prior, head of treatment services at The Rutland Centre, said the
figures were not surprising and that the centre too was seeing a big
increase in the number of calls and enquires about treatment in relation to
"While times were good most guys were able to keep a step ahead, but
since the credit crunch is biting suddenly they have found they are in
Mr Prior said it had a "devastating" effect on families and could
result in family breakdown.
"Often you will hear stories that the gambler is maintaining that
everything is OK and is out buying rounds and splashing money around while
the family is at home suffering."
He encouraged people with a family member with a problem to seek help and support as they often
ended up feeling shame and guilt.
Meanwhile, recent figures from marriage counselling service Accord revealed
that a growing number of couples are citing problems around internet usage
and time spent in "cyberspace" as a source of marital conflict.
John Farrelly, director of counselling with Accord, said one of the key
areas causing conflict was internet gambling.
Examiner, 31 August 2009
United Kingdom -
White-collar men in mid-30’s typical ‘gambling addiction’
patient in UK
their mid-30s who have white collar jobs have been revealed to be the
typical “problem gambling” patients at the National Problem
Gambling Clinic (NPGC) in Central London.
to an audit from the country’s first NHS gambling centre, such men
have one or even two jobs to help fuel their addiction.
say that that there exists a surprising number of City workers and
graduates who keep their gambling entirely hidden from colleagues.
that some of these people are those who picked up the habit while at
described the findings as highly unusual, compared with normal sociological
patterns of gambling addiction, which tended to be greater among the
added that the economic downturn might have exacerbated money pressures and
psychiatric problems, but it also increased the likelihood of patients
covered 260 patients with an average age of 36. Two thirds were employed,
with many described as “highly functioning”. Only 3 per cent
is very unusual because we are looking at a highly functioning group of
individuals overall. These are people who are skilled at what they do and
are respected and trusted by their employers,” Times Online quoted
Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a consultant psychiatrist who set up the clinic, as
the flood of referrals was “worrying and fascinating”, Dr.
Bowden-Jones stressed the importance of NHS involvement.
gambling treatment has been offered by self-help groups, charities and
private clinics that are beyond the budgets of most problem gamblers.
5 October 2009