Local
6:21 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Amendment Would Require Casinos to Send Monthly Statements to Gamblers

The Pennsylvania House has already passed HB 2009, which carries the primary goal of making the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) post a description of all requests for access to records on its website under the Right-to-Know Law. However, it does not end there.

Two amendments to the bill were also passed. One would require casinos in the state to send out monthly statements to gamblers. Activist and former gambling addict Bill Kearney has been pushing for that for several years. He said that the vast majority of gamblers are enrolled in casino reward programs.

"It's already in place. Gaming operators are tracking their play, so where's the harm in sending out monthly statements showing these patrons how much they're gambling, their wins and their losses? And I say their wins and mostly losses because 90 percent to 95 percent of all statements sent out will show negative reporting," said Kearney.

And that, said Kearney, could serve as an eye opener to people who otherwise might fall into a gambling addiction. But casino operators say that the move would be costly and wouldn't do any good in curbing compulsive gambling.

"There is no evidence to show that it would affect people's behaviors. It would be a redundant service that's already provided," said Craig Clark, general manager of Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

He said that monthly statements that show all gaming activity are available for cardholders upon request, but mandating them, he said, would be burdensome and ineffective in stopping gambling addiction. He said that casinos are simply an entertainment choice that people make, and that the majority of those who visit Rivers Casino do not become addicted to gambling. For those who do, there are services available.

"Overall education, working with the control board that's on site each and every day to reference people if they need additional resources. It's a daily, proactive program to make sure we address this part of society that has an addiction to gambling," said Clark.

The bill is awaiting Senate action, but several previous legislative attempts to require casino monthly statements have failed. Only one other state, Massachusetts, has passed a monthly casino law. That state passed a gaming law last month which includes the monthly statement provision.