Ontario, Canada casinos failing to keep out players opting for self-exclusion
The province of Ontario Canada Government, who despite encouraging responsible gambling, is failing to help addicts most vulnerable from staying out of casinos. This is according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC's) investigative documentary program The Fifth Estate. In Ontario, players have the option to add their name to the mandated Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG's) self-exclusion list but have nevertheless managed to enter the properties on a consistent basis. One individual by the name of Joe Frieri estimated that he had visited a casino 10 times in the span of the first 6 months, despite having self-excluded himself three times within three years. This gambler estimated that he had lost up to C$300,000 before excluding himself the first time. Despite this, he had returned several times and was in fact offered a player's card which is the equivalent to a frequent flyer program.
Facial recognition technology
One of the tools at the disposal of government agencies to keep out addicts who have subscribed to the self-exclusion program is facial recognition technology. In the province, all 24 Ontario Lottery Gaming (OLG) slots and casinos were armed with facial recognition technology at costs that approached C$500,000. When opting for the self-exclusion program, a photo and name are entered into the database that is linked across the casino and slot network in Ontario. Upon being identified by the technology, the gambler will be instructed to leave and in some cases be fined for trespassing on casino property.
In the province alone, there are over 20,000 people on the self-exclusion list with 3,000 identified every year. As part of the effort, these gamblers are also supposed to be removed from mailing lists and prohibited from claiming prizes of over $10,000. Despite this, people on the list are in fact rarely excluded. To put the self-exclusion list to the test, a Fifth Estate producer registered himself on the self-exclusion list for six months. Despite having his photo taken and provided his details, he was able to enter the casino, gamble and cash-out without notice.
Conflict of Interest
In Canada, it has been estimated that 0.5M Canadians are problem gamblers. For the government of Ontario, there is a lot of money to be had from gambling. In the previous year alone, C$7 billion was taken in with C$2.2 billion filtering through into the government's coffers. One study suggests that upwards of 24% of that revenue comes from problem gamblers. While in most countries, government identification is a requirement to enter a casino, the Industry in Canada believes that they would meet resistance by the public to do the same.
Actions by reputable casinos
Casinos can and do take steps to protect you from problem gambling starting with the option to self-impose spending limits that prevent you from overspending. If you think that you are developing a problematic gambling habit, and think that you may need help, then you can visit Gamcare.org for information.