Maryland now has 6 casinos across the state, and though there exists plenty of outreach avenues for problem gamblers and gambling addicts, those same people are claiming that the aid provided by the state is not doing them any good. According to self-identified gambling addicts, the state’s “Self-Exclusion Program”—as it is known as—is mostly ineffective.
Though the self-exclusion program is similar to what you will find in other states, it seems to be mostly ineffective because it requires problem gamblers to police themselves. In much the same way that drug addicts hardly succeed at breaking their habit(s) on their own, gambling addicts in Maryland are finding it increasingly difficult to overcome their addiction.
To provide a little insight, the state’s self-exclusion program works like this:
Gamblers who have been identified (either by themselves, friends/family, and/or medical professionals) as problem gamblers or gambling addicts register themselves in a statewide database. Upon completing the registration process, those who have enrolled are then banned from entering any of Maryland’s 6 casinos. Should an enrolled person enter a casino anyway, they run the risk of facing arrest and/or receiving a trespassing charge.
Though there are nearly 1,500 total people enrolled in the self-exclusion program, recent reviews have found that the program itself is largely ineffective. This is so for a few reasons. For one, the program requires that gambling addicts police themselves. Not only do enrollees have to take it upon themselves to enter into the program, it is largely up to them to avoid casino floors.
Being that Maryland casinos do not check ID when patrons enter the door, there is no way for a casino to identify someone as an enrolled member of the self-exclusion list. Beyond that, casinos are not equipped with facial recognition software nor technology able to identify license plates. So, really, even if casinos wanted to step up their enforcement of who does and does not enter onto the casino floor, they are at a massive technological disadvantage and flat-out behind the times.
Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, Keith Whyte, admitted that while self-exclusion lists exists in most states with gambling industries, they are incredibly difficult to enforce and keep track of. In a statement on the matter, he said, “I think it’s very difficult for casinos to enforce. They get thousands of customers a day. You’re never asked for identification when you start losing. In fact, you’re never asked when you start to play. You can lose as much as you want without being identified.”
Gambling addicts from Maryland and other states have all made similar comments on these types of programs. Though, in theory, they should be effective at keeping problem gamblers off of casino floors, they almost never are. At the end of the day, anyone and everyone can come to casinos and leave as much and as often as they would like. States are stepping up their combating gambling addiction, but it seems as though most are behind the curve and have a lot of catching up to do.