Problem gamblers in Michigan can now breathe a sigh of relief. This is because the state had previously imposed a lifetime ban for problem gamblers that prevented them from stepping foot into the three Detroit casinos. However, the Michigan Gaming Control Board has relaxed this restriction by allowing individuals to apply to remove their names from the list after at least five years. Previously, problem gamblers had no other choice other than accepting to stay on the list for life. If found trespassing on the gaming floor of any of the casinos in Michigan, unlike worldwide casinos, e.g., new South African online casinos, where it’s not prohibited, banned problem gamblers could face possible criminal prosecution. The casinos include MotorCity Casino Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit, and Greektown Casino-Hotel.

What Does This Mean for Problem Gamblers?

Michigan is among twenty-three states that had introduced a self-exclusion list for gambling activities and casinos. However, it was the only state that had imposed a lifetime ban for problem gamblers with no option of leaving the list. By Oct 1st, there were a total of 4,825 people on the list of Disassociated Persons. According to the executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Richard Kalm, approximately fifty people request removal of their names from the list after implementing the new law. However, the list does not extend to the twenty-four Michigan tribal casinos.

The new rule aims at giving problem gamblers a second chance in case they happen to recover from the problem. This is in the wake of the Michigan Gaming Control Board receiving tens of letters every year from banned problem gamblers claiming that they had overcome the problem and would love to go back to the casinos and enjoy playing their favorite games.

The president of the Michigan Association of Problem Gambling, Michael Burke, said that this policy change was a good move because problem gamblers initially considered joining the self-ban list. Still, they became reluctant due to the nonflexible duration. Most states have given problem gamblers the option of leaving the list after a certain period, usually between three to five years. According to Burke, it is nearly impossible for many problem gamblers to continue with the habit after getting banned, just like reformed alcoholics find it hard to drink again once they stop. Therefore, a lifelong ban would still be an appropriate measure for problem gamblers.

More Appropriate Measures Needed to Tame Problem Gamblers

Even with the implementation of lifetime bans on problem gamblers from entering the casinos, some still try to illegally access the casinos. In one month, Detroit casinos can catch up to ten disassociated people violating the ban. In most cases, the victims are discovered when attempting to cash out huge sums after winning jackpots. Others manage to sneak in and gamble without getting detected by the casino staff. It is not easy for casinos to keep out all problem gamblers even if they are on the list. The lack of advanced technology, such as facial recognition cameras, has made it hard to identify individuals who are not supposed to enter the casinos due to the ban.

What Happens to Violators of the Ban?

On a typical Friday night, before COVID-19, there used to be approximately 5,000 or 6,000 people in a casino, making it nearly impossible to identify any problem gamblers who might have sneaked in. However, if the violators are caught, it’s impossible to take home the winnings from the casinos. All winnings usually are seized, and besides, the State Police give the violators criminal trespassing tickets. These tickets are for misdemeanors, which are punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or up-to one-year imprisonment. First-time offenders are given a chance to undergo treatment for gambling addiction then get their cases dismissed.

How Are the Seized Winnings from Self-Ban Violators Used?

In 2019, casinos managed to seize approximately $193,000 in winnings from the self-ban violators. The Gaming Control Board handed over these winnings to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. These funds helped to treat problem gamblers if they could not afford to pay for the program.

How Can Michigan Deal with the Increasing Number of Problem Gamblers?

As long as there are casinos, the issue of problem gambling will always exist. Despite banning problem gamblers from entering casinos for a given time, Michigan’s state should also consider other ways of preventing such scenarios in the future. To achieve this, casinos should ensure that they acquire information about all their players beforehand, including their income details. The following decision will help set limits on the maximum amount each can gamble within a given period. Another great decision to prevent addictive gambling is self-exclusion the good example of it is PlayLive casino and SpringBok casino. There should also be training sessions offered to first-time gamblers to prevent them from ending up as problem gamblers. These steps will help ensure that any gamblers or those intending to become gamblers are fully aware of the risks involved before engaging in it.