Casinos should be reformed to stop predatory tactics

Last update: December 2022

Casinos don't simply offer the games and hope people play them, they do everything they can to encourage people to play, even with addicted gamblers.  Make that especially with addicted gamblers. (NY Times, The Atlantic)

This shouldn't be surprising.  For as long as we've had modern companies (i.e. since the industrial revolution), they've tried to exploit workers, screw over customers, and inflict cruelty on animals, in the name of profit.

And casinos prey on the public, including problem gamblers, simply because they can, because there are no laws to the contrary.

There should be.  And that's what it will take, new laws, since casinos won't implement the changes voluntarily.  After all, if the casinos wanted to be doing these things, they already would be.  Unfortunately, nobody's pushing for these kinds of laws.  There are groups opposing opening new casinos (akin to Prohibition), but nobody working on reforming the existing industry.  If I ever have enough time to get a non-profit off the ground maybe I'll start one.  Until then, here are some ideas for laws to make casino gambling less exploitative of the players, and especially of problem gamblers.

Suggested Reforms for Casinos
Problem Suggested Reform
(1) Casinos target problem (addicted) gamblers Casinos must be prohibited from doing so.
(2) Casinos cash paychecks and Social Security checks for customers, and most actually offer incentives for doing so (like free chips, or free entries in a drawing), clearly enabling problem gamblers. Casinos must not cash third-party checks.
(3) Casinos extend credit to customers, especially to customers who run out of money.  Some casinos do this even from the slot machines. Casinos must not loan money to gamblers.
(4) It's easy for players to lose life-changing sums and the casino will never intervene.

One exception is Finland, which limits losses to $600/day and $2500/month. (2021)
Land casinos must:
(a) Require all players to sign up for a Player's Card.
(b) Require the card be used for all play (slots and table games)
Note:  The items below are enforceable only if a card is required for play.

All casinos (land + online) must:
(a) Have players set daily, weekly, and monthly loss limits when signing up.
(b) Cut players off when they've reached their limit.
(c) Allow players to self-exclude themselves from further play, letting the player choose either a "cooling-off" period or a permanent exclusion.
(d) Punish the casinos for allowing players to play in violation of the above, not the players.  (Self-exclusion doesn't work well at land casinos because player cards are not required, and when a player plays anyway, it's the player who gets charged, not the casino.)
(5) Players can't set "cooling off" periods during which the casino must refuse their play. Casinos must let players self-exclude for any period of time the player chooses.
(6) If a player plays during a self-excluded period, the player is punished.  Some jurisdictions allow players to self-exclude (permanently, not for a a shorter cooling-off period), but if the player sneaks in and plays anyway, the player is charged with a crime, and the casino faces no penalties.  The casino thus has no incentive to refuse play to problem gamblers. Casinos must face significant disciplinary action for allowing excluded players to play.
(7) Players have no idea how hard it is to win a slot jackpot. Casinos must post jackpot odds on every machine, including the number of hours, days, weeks, months, or years of continuous play that it takes to hit the jackpot on average.
(8) Players have no idea what the payback (theoretical return) is on slot machines. Casinos must post the payback on every machine.
(9) Online casinos confiscate winnings of players' winnings when multiple people play on the same device or Internet connection, and don't properly warn players that this can happen. Terms and conditions often state things like "One account per household" and "one account per player".  What they don't say is "One account per device and per Internet connection."  (more...) (a) Terms and conditions should specifically say that winnings can be seized if multiple accounts access the site from the same device or Internet connection.

(b) Burying this in pages and pages of tiny-type T&C isn't enough.  On the signup page, there should also be a separate checkbox from the T&C agreement, saying the player understands that multiple accounts on the same device or Internet connection can result in winnings being seized.  (Either that, or give players the option to forgo signup bonuses so that the casino will have no reason to seize winnings for having multiple accounts on the same device or connection.)

Examples of casino predatory behavior

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