Gambling Addiction: Can A Limit Play Program Help Stop Gambling Problems?

So I came across an interesting article yesterday about addicted gambling and a program on slot machines being tested in a Boston, MA casino in the popular recovery magazine The Fix, written by McCarton Ackerman  06/03/16.  Now, the headline alone caught my eye and needless to say; I just had to share it here for you.  I have many mixed feelings about this one my friends.


Boston Casino To Test First-Ever Responsible Gaming System


“The casino’s “Play My Way” system will give slot machine betters periodic on-screen notifications as they approach, reach and surpass their limit.”

Boston Casino To Test First-Ever Responsible Gaming System

A casino in Boston is the first in the nation to give slot players the option to limit their bets via the “Play My Way” system.

The new system is expected to go live this week in all 1,250 slot machines at Plainridge Park, a harness racing track. And slot’s parlor in the town of Plainville, Massachusetts. According to the Boston Herald, the casino received help in launching the feature from both the state’s gaming commission and the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. The “Play My Way” system gives bettors periodic on-screen notifications as they approach or reach their limit.

However, the program is voluntary and will start out as a feature limited to players who are part of the casino’s rewards card program. Even if a bettor reaches or surpasses their limit, they still won’t be cut off from continuing to bet.

“Any responsible gaming tool should be targeted to assist the small minority of players that may confront irresponsible play without harming the entertainment experience for nearly all players who enjoy our entertainment experience responsibly,” said American Gaming Association (AGA) spokesman Christopher Moyer. “We’re optimistic this tool will help to achieve this goal.



However, not everyone is as optimistic. Despite Moyer’s comments, the pilot program initially received pushback from people within the AGA and several Massachusetts casino operators. The critics cited data that similar “play management” programs in other countries including Australia and Canada have not been effective in deterring problem gambling.

Marlene Warner, executive director of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, admitted that the system isn’t designed to treat or dissuade people with a current gambling addiction. “It’s truly a prevention tool,” she said. “We want people to keep gambling in a way that’s healthy and safe for them so that it doesn’t rise to that problematic level. It’s just a tool to make that person aware of what’s happening and the decisions they’re making.”

If the program proves to be successful, it could have significant implications on casinos across Massachusetts. The state’s gambling commission said it is considering adopting the program at two state-regulated casinos still in development. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which is building the First Light casino on sovereign land in the town of Taunton, also said they will watch how the program unfolds before deciding whether to implement it when they open their doors next year.

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Per the article:  “the program is voluntary and will start out as a feature limited to players who are part of the casino’s rewards card program. Even if a player reaches or surpasses their limit, they still WON’T BE CUT OFF and can continue to BET”???  

NOW, is it me or does this defeating the whole purpose of testing these new slot machines? If you are going to test a product that is supposed to help keep slot players from going over their gambling dollar limit, but they can still continue to gamble? What the hell is the point of testing them in the first place?  Now, if you read the very end of the article, it states that two casino’s that are thinking of putting this program in some of their slot machines that are in development and slated to open next year. Then it says they haven’t fully decided yet to add them.

That sounds kind of “fishy” to me. Are they just offering to “maybe” put them in so they can get their casino licenses? It sure seems to me that is what it sounds like. As a recovering gambler myself, I can tell you this, no type of program, terminal, or “play my way” program on slot machines would have ever stopped me from uncontrolled gambling. Especially if you are giving the option to the person behind that slot machine. They will avoid those and go to other slots where there are no limits. COME ON PEOPLE, that is why it is called Compulsive Addicted Gambling.


Once an addicted gambler cross’ that invisible line into uncontrolled addicted gambling, there is no turning back. Sorry folks, it just won’t work. Just like self-banning doesn’t work either. No matter how hard an addicted gambler tries to control their gaming? The disease continues to progress slowly. Even when the person controls it awhile, it will progress again. Like the saying, “keep doing the same thing over and over, even differently, with gambling addiction it ends up the same results.” you continue to lose very badly. I know I have done it millions of times.

There was nothing that would stop me from gambling except treatment after my suicide attempts from my addiction. Even if the gambler just has a problem with gambling, we all know in recovery how this disease progress’. Even if it were mandatory, the gambler would find other ways around this like going to other casinos to avoid limit slot machines and still lose money they can’t afford to lose. Who do you think casinos make their money and profits from? Not the once a month player I can tell you that! It is the problem and addicted gamblers who they make profits from.

You are not fooling anyone with this test program of “play my way.”
My advice to Marlene Warner, executive director of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling?  Continue to share and offer help to problem gambler’s and their families, but this program won’t come close to helping in stopping them to gamble.

Author & In Recovery Magazine Columnist of “The Author’s Cafe” ~ Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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