People with a Gambling Disorder (sometimes called The Hidden Disease) are a tough lot to get into treatment let alone into an introspective state. Gambling Disorder is similar in many ways to Substance Abuse Disorders with some key differences. Gamblers do not get DWIs to get them started in treatment or cut-off by bartenders. They do not have the medical field warning them to quit or die. They can sit in treatment and lie because there is not a blood test or breathalyzer to keep them accountable. They have no threshold besides money that keeps them fantasizing about the “big win”, which might happen on a given day. I will keep repeating myself when I state that I think the treatment providers are doing a good enough job in their treatment along with the self-help/mutual world. Not so the casinos and the State.
I can’t tell you how many people I know who saw the helpline number (1-800-Gambler) in the casino and did not call because they usually weren’t done gambling because they had access to money (legal or not) or they did not know how to shut the pain down. Some in their denial did not think they had a problem or did not research what the helpline did while having preconceived ideas. I want the State to give people all the information upfront. The following are ideas I have passed along in some form to people involved with the State. I do not want to pretend that the following are all my ideas, that some are not being used around the world (I shared in previous blog pieces some limits of time and money that the Brits implemented), and that the State has not implemented.
I believe it would be beneficial for our society if the State did the following by funding their efforts with dollars based on the State prevalence rate of people with a gambling disorder not a subjective dollar amount. Once again if we use the low end of the prevalence rate, 1%, that would be $55,270,000 instead of the $6,800,000 which was just raised from $800,000.
- Flood the airwaves, print media, and internet with information about Gambling Disorder and the free treatment options offered by state-funded agencies which would still do their own public relations.
- Hire Prevention Specialists to follow-up the media blitz with the hundreds of mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment centers.
- 24/7 Prevention and screening at all the casinos offered to everyone entering a casino. Every other gambling establishment will have to offer materials to their patrons and have a Prevention Specialist visit on a regular schedule.
- Build or fund a residential treatment center for family systems affected by a gambling disorder.
If you want to buy a home, open a brokerage account, get a loan, buy a car, and buy a phone and a plan you get your credit checked and sometimes your financial world is researched. If you want to open a brokerage account you will be asked about where the money is coming from and you will either be deemed to be suitable to be involved in certain products and strategies or not suitable. And, when accounting for the “entertainment” definition the casinos and State use there is not much reason to have people lose more than they can afford.
- The casinos will have a Duty of Care to perform Suitability Tests on each patron who wants to gamble over $500 a day or $1000 a month. Those numbers are arbitrary and without any research behind them though I would like them to be less.
- Gamblers will sign-in to a casino with a dollar amount they plan on gambling with.
- Gamblers who are married will need their spouses permission to gamble including the amount to be gambled and time spent.
- Gamblers will need to take a break every 2 hours (about the time of an average film at the cinema) and see a Prevention Specialist if they stay more than 3 hours.
- No credit by the casino or third parties.
- No ATM machines on premises.
- Clocks will be visible from all areas.
- Alcohol will be limited to one drink every two hours.
- The casino will offer any patron who might not be in condition to drive home a free ride home and voucher to pick up their car.
I need to further think about and research ideas to allow people who can gamble to gamble and be safe. I also want those who probably shouldn’t gamble to have as much information as possible. I do not want loved ones surprised. I am pretty sure that I will add to and amend the above. Please add any ideas you have about ways to keep people safe in the comment section. Also, any feedback is welcome. I take no feedback as criticism.