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Gaming Guru

 

Are Disordered Gambling Regulations Based on Science?

16 April 2003

Wednesday, April 9, the American Gaming Association and the DetroitWindsor Chapter of Casino Management Association co-sponsored a Responsible Gaming Lecture Series program at Detroit's MGM Grand Detroit Casino. The program included a presentation by Dr. Richard LaBrie, Associate Director for Research and Data Analysis, Harvard Medical School's Division on Addictions. In the research Dr. LaBrie is conducting, and spoke about Wednesday night, he seeks to ascertain the methodology behind each state's gaming regulations concerning disordered gambling to better understand how and why regulations are imposed.

The concept of Dr. LaBrie's research is that gambling regulations relating to disordered gambling would be more effective if the regulatory process were science-based, rather than based on external pressures from the public, media and perceived threats to the public welfare. Dr. LaBrie stated that the first step in the development of a science of gambling regulations is to conduct a study of existing international and intra-national gambling regulations.

At Wednesday's presentation, Dr. LaBrie noted his research has thus far concluded that, in the 11 states with commercial (non-Native American) casinos, a total of 45 regulations relevant to promoting responsible gambling have been enacted. The regulations address 11 different topics which Dr. LaBrie has grouped into three major categories defined by the natural chronological stage of developing gambling-related problems.

I. Initiation of Gambling

- Public Awareness  programs designed to making the public aware of the potential problems associated with gambling

- Prevention  early prevention through programs directed to youth and students

- Advertising/Marketing Restrictions

II. Gambling and Gambling-Related Activities

- Signage

- Employee Training  pathological gambling and education

- Alcohol Service

- Credit Restrictions

- Loss Limits

III. Consequences of Gambling

- Self-exclusion

- Help Line

- Treatment

The three categories identified by Dr. LaBrie include: 1) regulations directed toward the public in general who may or may not have begun to gamble; 2) regulating activities that are part of the gambling experience or the social setting within which people gamble; and 3) procedures for helping people who have developed a gambling problem.

Of the 11 commercial casino gaming states that have regulations relating to disordered gambling, Dr. LaBrie identified that of all the regulations (45 in total) only five, or 13 percent, are directed toward initial prevention. The remaining interventions are divided nearly equally between gambling activities and consequences of gambling. Dr. LaBrie noted that Iowa and Nevada concentrate their regulations on gambling and gambling-related activities. Whereas, Michigan, Missouri and New Jersey have the majority of their regulations directed toward intervening with the consequences of gambling. He noted that Michigan has the most regulations, but pointed out that it does not regulate some important gambling and gambling-related areas, such as alcohol service, credit restrictions or loss limits.

Dr. LaBrie emphasized the importance of creating a regulatory framework that properly balances disorder gambling regulations to provide controls during the: 1) initiation of gambling; 2) gambling and gambling-related activities; and 3) consequences of gambling. Dr. LaBrie noted that if his research of gambling regulations reveals that the development of new gambling policies related to disordered gambling is largely motivated by public opinion, media sensationalism or perceived threats, then existing policies might require updating to reflect actual cost benefit data.

Dr. Donald Holecek, a Michigan State University Professor and Director of Michigan State University's Travel, Tourism & Recreation Resource Center, was in attendance at Wednesday's presentation and noted that Dr. LaBrie's research at Harvard Medical School's Division on Addictions will: "help to identify and target regulations where they are most likely to be effective in reducing the social costs of problem gambling."

Dr. Holecek stated that: "Dr. LaBrie provided a logical approach to developing a set of linked regulations to prevent and mitigate social consequences associated with problem gambling. His comparisons of regulations in the 11 states which have commercial casino gaming clearly show that the problem gaming regulatory process across jurisdictions is highly varied and appears to be driven by factors other than sound science."

Persons interested in monitoring Dr. LaBrie's research can visit Harvard Medical School's Division on Addictions web site at www.hms.harvard.edu/doa. In addition, Dr. LaBrie stated that the Division publishes a weekly one-page newsletter, The Wager, which summarizes recent studies on pathological and disordered gambling. This publication can be obtained at www.thewager.org. Also, more information on the American Gaming Associations Responsible Gaming Lecture Series is available at www.americangaming.org.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com