Gambling companies are similar to many other businesses. The more sales they make, the more profit they can potentially enjoy. For online casinos, physical casinos and other gaming establishments, many of those sales come in the form of convincing people to gamble their money. That has given rise to a big misconception that casinos are out to get people addicted to gambling.
From a very simplistic point of view, it sort of makes sense. If the casinos can convince people to spend as much money as possible, that’s better for their bottom lines, right? That’s an oversimplification of how the regulated gambling industry in the United States works, though. For that reason, it’s also an erroneous perception.
The reality of the situation is that there are high costs associated with irresponsible gambling for not only gamblers but the gaming companies as well. Those costs outweigh any benefit that casinos might temporarily glean from people who play irresponsibly.
The difference between irresponsible and responsible play
The term responsible gambling is bigger than just whether a person struggles with a gaming pathology. It’s completely possible for a person to play irresponsibly and not suffer from a compulsive gambling issue.
Responsible gambling for players consists of setting limits for themselves and then sticking to them. This applies not only to spending money but time as well. Furthermore, it includes only gambling at licensed facilities and/or with regulated apps or websites.
Responsible gambling also means choosing not to place proxy bets for others, be honest and open about gambling habits, and looking at gambling as just an entertainment form as opposed to a way to make money. Responsible gamblers expect to lose and nonetheless enjoy the thrill of the game.
For the entities offering the gaming, responsibility builds on those concepts. In terms of a casino, it also includes respecting players’ limits, engaging in robust age-verification practices, marketing themselves in a way that does not target inappropriate audiences and deploying adequate anti-money laundering controls.
Furthermore, responsibility entails fulfilling obligations to the communities that support casinos. In other words, abiding by all regulations and meeting financial commitments. Irresponsibility, then, is failing to observe any of these obligations on the part of either the gambler or the casino.
Gambling is among the most heavily regulated activities in the US. From the perspective of the casinos, there can be serious repercussions from governing bodies for irresponsible conduct.
Legal consequences for irresponsible behavior
In the appropriate states, obtaining and maintaining a gaming license is a privilege, not a right. Regulatory bodies have the power to limit, revoke or suspend such licenses for violations of regulations. They can also levy punitive fines against licensees. The scope of such violations can be broad as well.
This can involve behavior both on the part of the casino and the part of patrons playing games the casinos offer. For example, in many states, allowing a person who has placed themselves on a gaming self-exclusion list to gamble carries penalties for the offending casino.
Successive violations could lead to endangerment of the gaming license. Without such an active license, the business comes to a standstill. In terms of other issues, a revocation of a gaming license might not be the only concern, either.
Some other violations like money laundering also come with federal and state criminal charges. Upon conviction, those circumstances can lead to additional fines and potential incarceration for people involved.
Beyond the potential legal consequences of irresponsible gambling, there are social costs as well. Few things can ruin a casino’s standing in its community faster than irresponsible conduct.
Reputations are valuable assets for casinos
A casino might be able to weather regulatory fines for allowing excluded persons to gamble but its reputation is priceless. The social cost of potential and regular customers deciding to spend their money elsewhere could be far greater than any fine.
Casinos are very aware that if they become known for encouraging irresponsible play or being lax about underage persons playing, that could make players averse to patronizing them. Additionally, it could result in heightened scrutiny from regulators.
Finally, there’s the fact that responsible customers are actually more lucrative for the casinos than irresponsible ones. This is where simple math comes back in but in the right perspective.
Casinos want responsible players
Like most other businesses, casinos want to establish dependable, returning customers who deliver sustainable revenue. They also want customers who have good experiences and share those experiences with others in order to grow their customer bases.
Players who spend more than they can afford to lose run into issues that taint their gambling experiences. Players who develop compulsive gaming issues naturally need to limit their play if not abstain altogether.
Therefore, it’s simple math that many customers who spend what they can afford and come back to do the same again when they can afford to do so are worth more to casinos than a few players who come intermittently and then share their negative experiences of blowing the money they needed for groceries. Worse yet, a community full of people who struggle with gaming pathologies can quickly turn a casino into a vacant building.
For all these reasons, casinos do best when they and their guests behave responsibly. Over the long haul, no one wins when irresponsible gambling is ongoing.