Category Archives: Social Costs

Experts warn that Florida’s Seminole Gambling Compact Introduces Massive Gambling Expansion, but Leaves Problem Gamblers without Vital Resources

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to secure a new gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe and the Florida Government.  Recently a new compact was agreed upon and has been approved by the Florida Legislature and Governor.  If the bill makes it past federal approval, it represents a massive expansion in gambling.  Despite the normal political battles that such legislation brings, three is a serious health element that experts warn is being completely overlooked.  Aid for compulsive gamblers wasn’t addressed in the compact or the special legislative session that pushed the compact through.  This is of dire concern for problem gambling experts.  Florida Politics reports:

While the Legislature pushed through the Seminole Compact and gambling bills to support it, the matter of dealing with compulsive gambling drew alarm, debate, promises, but no action.

“If the Compact survives scrutiny at the federal level and the legal challenges, this is going to be a major expansion of gaming opportunities in the state of Florida, just in the sports betting alone,” said *Richard* *Pinsky*, a lobbyist for the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling. “Florida is not prepared right now for the impact that it will have upon families and individuals.”

Florida’s main response, through the Council, is a gambling prevention program helpline, 1-888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848). Set up initially to assist compulsive gamblers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, it is woefully unprepared to handle statewide action; it was never fully funded even for its intended purpose. “I can show you the actual transcripts (of calls) that would wrench your heart,” Pinsky told a House committee last week. 

Pinsky warned that “thousands and thousands” of Floridians will fall into compulsive gambling problems. And he believes that will grow fastest among younger generations. “The younger demographic, that’s exactly who does sports wagering and fantasy sports,” Pinsky said. “College students and those under 30. And they’re also the most at-risk group.”

Florida’s gambling prevention program has not been updated since 2005 when it was initiated as a response to the legalization of slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Guest Article: Missouri Draws Criticism for failing to pass Smoking Ban at Casinos during Global Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on local and nationwide efforts to institute smoking bans at casinos during the pandemic.  Not only is this a very clear way to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, it also offers many other health benefits to those that frequent casinos.  As such, efforts were taken to bring the matter up to the Missouri Gaming Commission.  As one Southwestern editorial notes however, the Commission has instead chosen to gambling with public health…

When the COVID-19 pandemic quickly spread last year, a number of businesses, including casinos, temporarily shut down.

Consistent with developing health protocols for re-opening, such as frequent disinfection of surfaces, requiring face masks, and providing hand sanitizer stations, over 140 casinos in 23 states also prohibited smoking. Managers recognized face masks were of little value if smokers pull them down while smoking. Several managers also recognized the public health risk of exposing people to secondhand smoke. So, what about Missouri?

Sadly, not one Missouri casino adopted this health measure. Even so, Section 313.812.14 of the state gaming law requires the Missouri Gaming Commission to take punitive action against a casino licensee that acts or fails to act in a manner that is “injurious to the public health.”

In May of 2020, the gaming commission was asked to give attention to this clause. This request was accompanied with information about long established medical science that exposure to secondhand smoke is a causal factor for heart attack, lung cancer, emphysema and stroke.

Also provided was a report that found air quality in Missouri casinos rated as “unhealthy” and a study that found a nearly 20 percent reduction in medical emergencies when smoke-free policies were implemented across the 26 casinos in Gilpin County, Colorado.

That secondhand smoke is dangerous to employees and patrons should not be news to the commission. In 2009, the National Council of Legislators from Gambling States, of which Missouri is a member, adopted a resolution in support of smoke-free gaming venues. This resolution encouraged state gaming commissions to adopt smoke-free policies as a prerequisite for issuing or renewing licenses.

The commission chose not to discuss the matter… An open records request revealed an email from the attorney stating the commission chair’s position was that their primary mission is to regulate gambling activity facilities in the state and, therefore, is not interested in pursuing a smoking policy for casinos.

Whether a primary mission or not, the law is clear in stating a casino licensee “shall be”, not “may be” subject to punitive measures for “any act or failure to act … that is injurious to the public health.” The law stipulation of “shall be” means this is not a discretionary option for the commission, but a mandated requirement to act in the interest of public health.

Commission data indicates over 7,700 employees in Missouri casinos.

These employees deserve a safe workplace environment free of air pollutants known to cause heart disease and cancer, especially when this exposure is so easily prevented. Sadly, these employees would likely be subjected to retaliation if they spoke up (e.g. have hours cut, be re-assigned to less desirable work shifts, be passed over for raises or promotions, be laid off, etc.).

Thus, they have no voice regarding a totally preventable risk to their health, leaving them the hard choice between a paycheck or their health.

The commission not only has the statutory authority, but also the statutory mandate to protect the public health. Their dereliction of duty endangers the health of employees and patrons by needlessly exposing them to secondhand smoke, a known cause for heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and strokes.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


‘No Casino’ Group’s New Ad Campaign Reminds Politicians and the Florida Public who gets the Final vote in Sports Betting – Pointing out one of the biggest issues with the new Seminole Compact

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to solidify a new Seminole Compact.  The agreement addressed many exclusivity deals that help regulate and prevent gambling expansion in Florida.  However, many have seen this as an opportunity to include sports betting, which while giving exclusive rights to the Seminole Casinos, would also be a new form of gambling and one that the Florida constitution expressly requires a vote of the people to become law.  The state is trying to circumvent the constitution, but No Casino group has released an ad campaign to remind them of the law.  Florida Politics reports:

No Casinos is launching a new statewide ad campaign to warn Floridians about the new Seminole Compact, which opens sports betting the group says illegally expands gambling in violation of the Florida Constitution.

The Orlando-based anti-gambling group argues the deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis late last month and could be finalized during a Special Legislative Session starting May 17, lets “politicians and gambling lobbyists, instead of voters, authorize a massive expansion of gambling” in the Sunshine State. “Not politicians. Not lobbyists. You,” the ad leads off. “That’s the law. But gambling lobbyists want politicians to break it.”

No Casinos specifically cite the Amendment 3 constitutional mandate passed in 2018 by 72% of Florida voters. The amendment gives Floridians “the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.”

The sports betting provision isn’t limited to the casinos either, but instead allows for mobile gambling all over the state.  This is the very type of gambling expansion that No Casinos contends the Florida constitution is designed to prevent without the express approval of voters.  Florida Politics explains:

Despite that explicit provision, the group says an expansion of sports betting could turn every cellphone into a “slot machine.”

“Their plan: Casinos. Sports betting. Even slot machines on cell phones,” the ad continues. “It’ll be like ‘internet cafes’ all over again.” The only thing missing? Your approval,” the ad concludes with a call to action. “Voter approval of gambling is the law. Tell your legislator: Don’t break it.”

“Voters were crystal clear that they wanted the final say on gambling expansion in Florida, and we’re letting them know that this proposed compact is a blatant violation of the constitution and the will of the people,” No Casinos President John Sowinski said in a statement. The ad — titled “People, Not Politicians” — will run both online and on cable TV in key markets statewide.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


GUEST ARTICLE: As States Like Missouri Deals with a Surge of Illegal Gaming Machines, the American Gaming Association Outlines the Numerous Problems they Create

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments of illegal slot machines that have popped up all over Missouri.  These illegal gambling machines, however, have found their way into many states and pose tremendous harm.  So much so that the American Gaming Association has issued a Nationwide statement condemning them.  Below is a portion of their press release  and the full white paper can be accessed HERE:

On Monday, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released a white paper highlighting the dangers of unregulated, illegal gambling machines proliferating across the U.S. These illegal gambling machines are not subjected to meaningful testing, licensing or regulatory standards and are often tied to criminal activity, including money laundering, drug trafficking and violent crime.

Highlights of the white paper, Skilled at Deception: How Unregulated Gaming Machines Endanger Consumers and Dilute Investments in Local Economies, include:

  • Illegal gambling machines do not undergo the same stringent regulatory requirements the legal gaming industry meets, including a licensing process, game testing and reporting and responsible gaming – nor are they monitored to ensure fair play for customers. Unregulated machine operators also lack training in responsible gaming, potentially luring children and those with problem gambling behaviors to use these machines.
  • Recent raids of illegal gaming machines have been tied to drug trafficking, gang activity, violence and have also been linked to several major organized crime families.

To combat the spread of illegal machines, the report recommends:

  • Law enforcement and policymakers need to prioritize robust enforcement of laws to root out illegal and unregulated gaming machines.
  • States and communities must not authorize these machines and continue to erode regulations and permit unnecessary consumer risk.
  • Businesses should actively remove illegal and unregulated games on their properties.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


As UK legislators look to update the Gambling Act 2005, a new Study Shows Loot Boxes Lead to Problem Gambling and Should be Regulated Accordingly

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing awareness of just how addictive gambling-esque loot boxes are to children and adults who play video games.  This gaming mechanic has emerged as a highly addictive form of gambling that more and more jurisdictions are acknowledging.  As recently reported,  the UK is open to the possible regulation of loot boxes as its reviewing and updating their main regulatory backbone, theGambling Act 2005.  As those review efforts are coming to a close, a new report draws a clear link between loot boxes and problem gambling. The Guardian reports: 

Analysis revives calls for in-game rewards to be classed as betting products to protect children. Loot boxes, video game features used by nearly 40% of children, have clear links to problem gambling, according to a study that has reignited calls for them to be regulated as betting products.

Researchers analysed 13 studies into the behaviour of gamers who spend on loot boxes which allow players to spend money on randomised in-game rewards that can aid players’ progress or enhance the appearance of characters, without knowing what they will get. All but one of the studies showed a clear correlation between the use of loot boxes and problem gambling behaviour, under the commonly-used Problem Gambling  Severity Index (PGSI) measure.

They were “structurally and psychologically akin” to gambling, the report found, yet are used by nearly half of children who play video games. Approximately 5% of loot box users generate half of the £700m that video games companies make from them each year and about a third of that group are problem gamblers, the report says.

This group contends that this analysis should be heavily considered by lawmakers when deciding which gambling regulations can best help the public.  The Guardian continues:

GambleAware, the leading gambling charity that commissioned the report,

also backed tighter regulation. “[…] We are increasingly concerned that gambling is now part of everyday life for children and young people,” said the chief executive Zoë Osmond. “GambleAware funded this research to highlight concerns around loot boxes and problem gambling, ahead of the upcoming Gambling Act review.

Researchers from the Universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton, who wrote the report, called for clear labelling and age-rating for loot boxes, as well as disclosure of odds, tools to limit spending voluntarily and prices in real currency.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


As Gambling Growth is Expected to Soar with this Year’s March Madness, Employers and Addicted Gamblers to Face Troubling Results

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the Madness of March and the impact this massive gambling event has on communities everywhere.  Last year, there was no NCAA National Basketball Tournament due to an abundance of caution following the beginning of a global pandemic.  So with a year off and many eager gamblers, it’s no surprise that the estimate for total bet and the total amount gambling are so incredibly high. Fox Business breaks down the numbers:

March Madness, both the tournament and the betting frenzy surrounding it, will look different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and online betting.

March Madness could be the most wagered on sporting events of all time, according to research from PlayUSA, which projected that the tournament could generate as much as $1.5 billion in legal bets. Online betting is expected to ramp up this year as the traditional system of paper brackets filled out in the office no longer works with most people working from home. Increased legalization of online betting is also making a huge difference.

During the last March Madness tournament, which took place in 2019, sports betting was only approved in a handful of states. This year, more than 20 states allow placing a bet online. Roughly 50 million Americans are expected to place bets this year, according to theAmerican Gambling Association.

With nearly 50 million people expected to gamble on the Tournament this year, clearly a lot of problem gamblers will find themselves in the mix, and the results could be unsettling.  An online source explains:

This year’s March Madness is highly anticipated after 2020’s NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. According to ODDS.com, the American Gaming Association projects more than 47 million Americans will place bets on March Madness — so it’s no coincidence that Problem Gambling Awareness Month falls in March.

The effort makes sure “people who are engaged in gambling, whether it’s brackets or other forms of gambling, are also aware that gambling can be a problem for some, and it can actually turn into an addiction,” said Jeffrey Wasserman, judicial outreach and development director for the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems.

Gambling disorders often tend to worsen, he added. Relationships can deteriorate, jobs can be lost, people could turn to criminal behavior to pay off debts — a pursuit Wasserman knows too well. “I’m 65 years old. I probably gambled since I was 18,” Wasserman said. “And my gambling addiction really progressed over the years, making me just a different person, making me discard my values and my value system I raised my kids with. Gambling became the most important thing in life for me.  After more than 30 years as an attorney, Wasserman lost his career because of gambling. He was in a dark place.

He’s been in recovery for the last five years. He attributed part of his turnaround to his family, who recognized he had a problem. Now with the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems, he’s helping people like him.

Individuals aren’t the only ones who can suffer from this multi-week gambling event.  In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based study which says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks. ESPN recently quantify the financial impact of just the gambling:

On the low end, the FBI estimated in 2013 that $2.6 billion was bet illegally on the tournament. On the high end, veteran bookmakers estimate the number to be anywhere from $12 billion to $26 billion. Friendly bracket pools are everywhere, with most everyone betting on the NCAA tournament in some form. But there are bets, and then there are bets. You don’t get to $26 billion with $20-per-sheet office pools.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Covid-19 Pandemic Expected to have Dangerously Impacted Super Bowl 54 Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the significant amount of gambling on the Super Bowl each year, and the covid pandemic is expected to impact Super Bowl 54 the most yet. When Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, sports betting was legalized in more states than ever, and the unique situation of the pandemic saw an increase in sports betting in general.  So it might not be surprising to learn that even though ratings and viewership were down for this year’s Super Bowl, the amount of gambling was at an all time high.  NBC News reports:

Even as Super Bowl LV’s TV audience declined, the amount of money wagered on the game skyrocketed in some states — especially in New Jersey, where gamblers doubled their action, regulators said.

The lure of a game featuring Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, considered by many to be the greatest of all time, and his heir apparent, Chiefs signal caller Patrick Mahomes, drew many casual bettors, regulators said. “I believe people love great sports no matter of a pandemic,” said Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association. “This epic GOAT-baby GOAT matchup would have been hyped the same, either way,” referring to the acronym for “greatest of all time.”

Gamblers were able to make their first legal Super Bowl bets in Washington, D.C., Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia. Illinois books accepted a whopping $45.6 million in the state’s first Super Bowl wagers, the Gaming Board reported. Meanwhile, Colorado gamblers placed $31.2 million on Sunday’s game, according to the Department of Revenue.

Gambling of this magnitude is expected to prompt many gambling problems and will impact high-risk problem gamblers the most.  PBS Online explains:

Some 26 million people wagered almost $7 billion dollars on last year’s Super bowl, according to the American Gaming Association. That was a 15 percent increase from the previous year. This year’s figures are expected to go even higher. Zion Market Research predicts that sports betting will increase from $104 billion in 2018 to a whopping $155 million in 2024.

These kinds of escalating figures put high-risk problem gamblers in even greater peril, says Scott Anderson, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Problem Gambling Treatment Coordinator. He works with the Ohio’s “Before You Bet” Campaign to attempt to identify and help problem gamblers. And, sports gamblers have been identified as one of the largest groups of addicted and potentially addicted gamblers. According to Ohio for Responsible Gambling, 24.4 percent of the at risk/problem gamblers are sports bettors.

Yet, Anderson says, that gambling and gambling situations are difficult to avoid. It is all around us from mobile phone day trading to state supported lotteries. Although problem gambling can be devastating to an individual’s personal, financial and professional life, it can sometimes be difficult to detect in its early stages. If someone is concerned about their gambling or the gambling of a friend or loved one, Anderson suggests that the person visit BeforeYouBet.org

Many think gambling on the Super Bowl is harmless fun, and for some, who do it legally, it could be that simple. However, the consequences for others can be extreme. A Fox News affiliate has reported that Super Bowl night is not only the biggest night for gamblers, but it also sees the most suicides as well. For those that don’t suffer the ultimate fate, they can still lose enough to cause irreparable harm to their finances and family. Fox Now online explains:

“Super Bowl is probably one of the biggest gambling days of the year,” said Gambling Addiction Counselor, Jim Harrison [a gambling counselor in Milwaukee.] He says the wagers placed on the Super Bowl are often not taken as seriously and can be seen as harmless and fun. “In reality it is betting, it is gambling,” said Harrison. Those compulsive gamblers see it as a day to make up for other sports losses this season.

Harrison says it’s not harmless at all for those with an addiction — betting is done with bookies and online and it could bring losses. “If it causes family problems, certainly financial problems,” said Harrison. “I’ve had clients who have literally lost over $300,000 gambling,” said Harrison. The Super Bowl can bring losses to those betting on it all, and it can be tempting to those dealing with gambling addiction.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Study Shows Children Exhibit Gambling Addiction Behavior like Stealing from Parents to fund Gambling-esque Loot Box Addiction

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the multifaceted impact loot boxes have in the gambling space.  More and more governments and organizations are recognizing loot boxes as gambling and many links have been observed in studies that examine loot boxes’ impact on the children who are seemingly playing safe video games.  These boxes act like slot machines in that children have to pay to pull the lever, or open a box, chasing after in-game loot.  There seems to be no significant cognitive behavioral difference in the addition of slot machines and loot boxes and in many cases, especially where the gained items can be sold for value, they fit the definition of gambling.  As such, more studies are being conducted and the newest study has some sobering results.  An online source reports:

According to new research by the Gambling Health Alliance, some 15% of young gamers have taken money from their parents without permission to buy loot boxes. An estimated 11% of gamers have used their parents’ credit cards to finalize the transaction, the GHA has reported.

The organization cautions that video games come with pitfalls and in a way resonates with what Scottish MP Ronnie Cowan said earlier this month, urging parents to boycott buying video games that contain loot boxes lest they start showing symptoms of gambling addiction.

The 15% reported by the GHA means that almost one in six young gamers has stolen money from their parents. Worse still, one in ten children, or 9%, have borrowed money they couldn’t repay to buy loot boxes, the research said. Three families had to re-mortgage their homes to cover the purchase of loot boxes, the GHA revealed. Based on the research, one in four respondents or 22% spent over £100 on average during the regular playthrough.

The addiction that follows loot boxes is not substantively different from that of slot machines, so the cognitive mechanics that addict gamers are generally understood. However, researchers want to know what drives the initial desire for children playing these games to start paying for and opening these addictive loot boxes.  Such information can help parents determine which games are safe and which could lead to such devastating addictive behaviors.  The source continues: 

Youngsters also reported that loot boxes interfered with their gaming experience for several reasons outlined by respondents in the survey. Children cited the “pay to win” model which made competitive play impossible. Another reason children cited was the scarcity of valuable items which could be procured through loot boxes. According to the GHA, all of the above made loot boxes increasingly addictive.

GHA Chair Duncan Stephenson has commented on the addictive tendencies among young children, acknowledging that teenagers enjoyed video games and that was perfectly fine. However, Stephenson cautioned the general public about the effects loot boxes can have on young people’s mental and financial well-being.

“Aside from the financial cost our latest survey with gamers suggests that the fixation with loot boxes can lead to classic symptoms of addiction including mood swings, problems sleeping, and impacting on their social life.”-GHA Chair Duncan Stephenson

He cautioned parents to be careful about the risks that loot boxes entail, especially when considering purchases of games that contain loot boxes. Stephenson also noted that these game mechanics will sooner or later be classified as gambling and be removed from games played by individuals who are under 18 years of age. There have been multiple calls for the reclassification of loot boxes already.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Guest Article: Editorial: Why won’t state and local officials enforce Missouri gaming laws?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing issue of shutting down illegal slot machines that popped up all over in Missouri gas stations and similar business.  Those machines were finally the subject of a proper lawsuit  giving way to full enforcement of Missouri’s regulations to only allow slot machines in regulated casinos.  However, that enforcement has been almost non-existent.  Nearly two months ago it was reported that enforcement wasn’t happening as expected  and it doesn’t seem to have picked up too much.  The following article is from the Editorial Board at the St Louis Post Dispatch and can be read in its entirety HERE, with a few highlights below: 

It is illegal in Missouri to host gambling machines except in licensed casinos. The law is clear on that, and just for good measure, a judge in September confirmed it. So why are state officials and local prosecutors still failing to confront the bars and gas stations that are hosting thousands of these unlicensed video gambling machines?

Some argue that gambling should be legalized across the state altogether, if only because it’s already everywhere anyway. But legalization must come with oversight and taxation, which still isn’t being applied to these rogue games. That must change, especially at a time when the state should be scrounging for every bit of revenue it can find.

At issue are some 14,000 video machines in business venues all over the state that players pay to play on the chance of making more money back. If that sounds like exactly what goes on in a casino, well, it is. Yet the machines aren’t licensed, taxed or regulated by the state, in blatant violation of Missouri’s gaming statutes…

There is no reasonable justification for it. They’re just doing it, and getting away with it, in large part because the industry lobbies heavily and contributes to politicians’ campaigns, including Gov. Mike Parson’s.

The fact is, the judge’s ruling wasn’t even necessary for state officials and local prosecutors to move on this. The purveyors of these machines are breaking the law. Until the law changes, they and the business venues that host them should be raided, prosecuted and fined. Period. They have gambled on Missouri’s patience long enough.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Covid-19 Guidelines lower Las Vegas Casino Occupancy to 25%

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing efforts to ensure covid-19 isn’t being spread through mass gambling activities.  Casinos have received tremendous criticism for not taking the popper precautions, both to protect the public, and to protect those workers at those operating casinos.  Employees have had to sue or act as whistleblowers to expose the labor issues seen in various casinos.  Most recently, there was criticism over Vegas casinos entwined in properly reporting key information to the public.  So its no surprise that this industry in particular is looked at as playing a more critical role in the spread of Covid-19.  As a result, new guidelines have been passed that limit the occupancy further in Las Vegas casinos.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

In a Sunday press conference, Sisolak said effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, occupancy limitations at casinos and their bars and restaurants will be reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent. Sisolak said he has had conversations with “most gaming operators” in the last 24 hours, and said the full force of the Nevada Gaming Control Board will be behind the implementation and enforcement of the new requirements. He added that if casinos do not follow the new requirements, “they will suffer the consequences.”

Newly-appointed Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson said the state’s gaming regulatory body will vigorously enforce the new gaming floor occupancy restrictions among the state’s licensees. “The more successfully Nevada mitigates the current spread of COVID over the next several weeks, the more likely we are to experience a complete return to current gaming floor occupancy percentages at that point” he said. The Nevada Gaming Commission already has acted on nine complaints brought by the Control Board against licensees since late July.

A spokesperson for Caesars Entertainment Inc. said the company will comply with Sisolak’s orders. Its restaurants and bars will remain open and continue to offer to-go options, and guests at most of its Nevada resorts will have the option to order pick up or delivery to their hotel Room. Wynn Resorts Ltd. spokesman Michael Weaver said the company will also implement the directives of the pause. “We believe the Governor made a prudent decision that will protect public health,” he said.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Loot Box Gambling in Video Games Front and Center of new UK Legislative Efforts

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to classify loot boxes as gambling.  Most recently, the Netherlands issues huge fines against video game publisher EA over this gambling type mechanic in their game Fifa and Spain has shifted focus to regulating these loot boxes as gambling to help protect the children who play these video games.  The UK has been examining the issue for a while, and a new effort being pushed by a local legislator is placing loot boxes front and center.  An online source reports:

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson called for the updating of gambling laws to include tougher action to prevent children and young people being encouraged into gambling-like behaviours while using video games. After the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Minister Nigel Huddleston outlined plans for a forthcoming gambling review, the Midlothian MP called for it to include measures to regulate the use of “loot boxes” in video games. Academic research has linked loot box spending to problem gambling in adolescents.

Mr Thompson called for an extension of the Gambling Act 2005 to include loot boxes and action to prevent video game companies from profiteering on the back of young people who develop gambling-like addictions.

Mr Thompson said: “It is well past time the UK’s gambling laws were made fit for the digital age. Of particular concern is the rise in gambling in children under 16. One important step would be to close the loopholes that allow gambling-like tools to be excessively used in children’s video games. “Parents don’t care about the legal definitions of gambling – they want to know their children are safe when playing popular video games and that means tighter regulations to protect from online harms.

When describing the nature of loot boxes, Mr. Thompson points out that academic research has explained the link to problem gambling and that these video game companies are operating in a legal loophole that needs to be addressed.  The online source continues:

“The presence of loot boxes can encourage young people who are enjoying a video game to spend money they can’t afford in order to keep going, and academic research shows this is linked to problem gambling. It is a very short step between that and addictions to other forms of gambling games like slot machines.

“This is a loophole in the law that needs to be closed down so that tougher regulatory measures can be taken. The Vice Chair of EA Games described loot boxes as ethical and fun, but as a gamer myself I find they can be a costly distraction at best, and capable of encouraging online harm at worst. I find it highly unethical to profit from excessive spend from teenagers on games of chance.

“We cannot wait for the industry to take tougher action – the UK Government needs to tighten the laws and ensure everything possible is done to ensure children and young people are protected when online.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Nationwide Smoking Ban in Casinos Pushed by Advocacy Group to Protect Public Against Covid-19

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent smoking ban proposals for casinos as a means to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  These efforts have been fairly localized, but the impact of such a policy is self-evident.  Covid-19 is widely spread through air particulates and exhaling smoke puts many particulates and germs in the air.  The extension of such a policy on a national level, could therefore have tremendous benefit in preventing the spread of the virus, especially in gambling venues that haven’t decreased the volume of gamblers in the facilities by a large about or those that force smokers to congregate in one area, thus drastically increasing the consolidation of germs in the air.  An advocacy group has taken note and is pushing the policy on a national level.  An online source explains: 

The largest advocacy group in the nation that seeks to ban smoking in casinos said Thursday operators should be denied any federal COVID-19 relief funds unless the gaming industry goes smoke-free. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights took that message to the American Gaming Association ahead of the Washington D.C. trade organization’s semi-annual board meeting, scheduled for Friday.

“We take issue with casinos potentially receiving such relief funding, (which) is necessitated by a pandemic involving respiratory issues, while still permitting an activity – indoor smoking – that promotes the spread of COVID-19,” Cynthia Hallett, CEO of the Berkley, California-based Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, wrote in the letter. She wrote that Miller should use his “leadership position to make the argument to your members about why smoke-free indoors is a smart policy.”

In their letter, they not only point out the clearly obvious hazards to allowing smoking indoors during a pandemic, but also the need for a strong enforcement measure, including holding back Covid-19 relief funding if facilities fail to protect the public though a smoking ban,  The online source continues: 

In her letter to Miller, Hallett wrote that “industry arguments against going smoke-free have grown stale and do not withstand scrutiny.” Casinos throughout the U.S. have reopened under various COVID-19 health and safety guidelines calling for cleaning and social distancing protocols. Most properties require everyone on the casino floor – employees and guests alike – to wear masks or facial coverings at all times, unless eating or drinking.

“Guests who wear a mask but are allowed to remove it while inside to smoke are blowing potentially hazardous droplets into shared air for fellow guests and gaming employees to breathe in, which increases the risk for transmission of COVID-19, amongst other health risks,” Hallett wrote. “No credible public health official would approve of this, but it’s standard operating procedure in most casinos.”

he said the letter was also shared with members of the Congressional Gaming Caucus and other congressional members who are leading COVID-19 relief negotiations. “We request that you only accept taxpayer dollars, which we agree are needed to sustain gaming jobs and business operations, if casino operators agree to adopt a smoke-free indoor policy that would help to keep employees and guests safe,” Hallett wrote.

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Spain Looking to Reclassify Loot Boxes as Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing crackdown of loot boxes in video games.  These loot boxes are essentially a slot machine mechanic, where the player buys boxes to open as they are trying to get game specific loot.  In some cases this loot has value and is sold, which is the typical gambling.  In other cases they can’t be sold, but the mechanics are designed to get children to chase the good loot or gear in a game and as such, they dump hundreds or thousands of dollars into them.  Psychologically, they act exactly like slot machines and cause the same addiction you see with gambling.  More and more jurisdictions are recognizing these gambling-eque loot boxes for the dangers they pose to children, and are looking to regulate them accordingly. Most recently, an example of regulation in the Netherlands saw a major court ruling against publisher EA for their Fifa soccer game as they classified loot boxes as gambling.  Now it appears Spain has joined them and other European governing bodies in the notion that loot boxes should be viewed as gambling and regulated as such.  SBC News reports:

Mikel Arana, Director-General of Spain’s DGOJ, has confirmed that the regulatory agency has advised the government to introduce changes to the ‘/Gaming Law/’ in order to reclassify ‘loot boxes as games of chance’. The DGOJ’s leader urged Congress to support the initiative yesterday, stating that the government will launch a public consultation before the end of the year, aiming for new regulations to come into force by the second half of 2021.

Furthermore, Arana supported the directive to Spain’s joint commission on the ‘*/Study of Addiction Behaviour//s/*’, whilst further advising the ‘*/Responsible Gaming Advisory Council/*’ to support its review in amending the current law to establish loot boxes as gambling components.

Mirroring European counterparts, the Spanish government aims to review its digital laws with regards to protecting minors by “limiting compulsive and impulsive transactions’. The DGOJ is reportedly seeking guarantees that loot box laws and gaming protections will be included in the next phase of federal gambling reforms sanctioned by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

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Military Veterans Face Double the Risk of Problem Gambling over the Civilian Population

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various efforts to deal with gambling issues in the military.  These issues don’t simply exist while active duty, but they can often be seen impacting those long after they separate.  As we focus on Veteran’s Day, it’s important to realize the range of issues they deal with extend beyond their civilian counterparts.  There are many factors to consider, and one online source helps break the gambling issues down:

The 11th month, November, on the 11^th   day is dedicated to commemorating the men and women who have served in the U.S. military. As a country, we strive to honor and protect these individuals after returning to civilian life. While there are many mental health and addiction resources available throughout the nation, one issue usually remains hidden — problem gambling.

It’s a problem any time gambling causes financial, vocational, mental or interpersonal problems in one’s life, and it’s an issue that affects roughly two million Americans. However, Veterans have elevated rates of problem gambling — at least twice the rate as the general adult population (Westermeyer et al., 2013). Additionally, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) estimates that as many as 56,000 active duty members of the Armed Forces meet the criteria for gambling disorder.

Problem gambling is often viewed as inconsequential and limited to financial impacts among its victims. The sad reality, however, is that its impact is far reaching and can often times be deadly.  The source explains:

Compared to the national population, problem gambling may not seem like a priority. However, problem gambling can impact up to 55 percent of the population. It is estimated that each individual struggling with problem gambling can impact up to 10 additional people.

On top of that, problem gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions. “About 50 percent of those with disordered gambling have had suicidal thoughts. Over 17 percent of these individuals have attempted suicide,” (Moghaddam et al., 2015).

Problem gambling is also extremely underreported_ and low screening rates, especially in the military, remain a barrier. Some initial screening tools that are available include the “Lie Bet” and the “Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen.”  which provide basic questions on gambling habits.

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Unregulated Slot Machine Enforcement in Missouri is Off to a Slow Start

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the illegal gambling machines that exploded all over Missouri.  These devices are essentially just slot machines that pre-reveal the result, meaning you aren’t really gambling on the very first pull, as its result showing, but on the next pull.  Clearly, they de facto function exactly like a slot machine and thus, they are illegal outside of a properly licensed and regulated Missouri Casino.  It’s been a problem in Missouri for a while, but some real direction finally came with a recent court decision that definitely found one of the slot machine manufacturers guilty of illegal gambling.  Since then however, the enforcement of crackdown on other facilities across the state hasn’t picked up.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports:

In the wake of a recent ruling that a Kansas-based company’s unregulated slot machine-style games were illegal, Missouri officials are now divided on how to move forward with policing roughly 14,000 similar devices deployed at gas stations and bars across the state.

The Post-Dispatch obtained a draft letter from state liquor regulators to licensees informing them of the Sept. 22 ruling by a Platte County Circuit Court judge, but emphasizing the judgment was “not final at this time” while the company, Shawnee Kansas-based Integrity Vending LLC, appealed.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said the letter was “probably not strong enough.” He said he wanted the state to give businesses time to unplug the games before facing suspension or revocation of their liquor licenses, but said he understood officials’ caution, given that appeals are possible.

There has been an initial reluctance to move forward with prosecution or the pulling of liquor licenses as of now.  Moreover, internal money and resources set aside for such activities haven’t been disseminated as initially allocated. The St Louis Post Dispatch explains:

Because the games are unregulated, there are no consumer protections to prevent low payouts, no money directed to public education and no resources available for addicted gamblers.

Schatz’s desire for the state Department of Public Safety to start pulling liquor licenses from noncompliant gas stations and bars would mark an escalation in the state’s efforts to police the games. This year, the Missouri Highway Patrol, operating under the Department of Public Safety, had as of Oct. 6 forwarded 72 probable cause affidavits to local prosecutors for illegal gambling charges, an agency spokesman said in an email. But most prosecutors, at least before the Platte County ruling, had been reluctant to file charges. 

Senate Budget Chairman Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, included $150,000 in this year’s budget for investigations of the devices. The money was earmarked for the attorney general’s office, which enforces consumer protection laws. Gov. Mike Parson withheld the money this summer amid lagging revenue projections, temporarily stopping any action. With a more favorable budget forecast, his administration released the funds this month, but Attorney General Eric Schmitt is still reluctant to spend the money.

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