No Evidence Entry Fees Prevent Problem Gambling

There has been no independent, peer-reviewed research into whether casino entry fees help to prevent problem gambling and some experts say the levies may make the problem worse.

“This is catalyzing the problem gambler,” Robert Cantwell, a partner at US law firm, Lathrop Gage, told a panel at the IAGA Best Practices Institute during G2E Asia in Macau last week. “This is heightening the propensity for risk to take measures to get back that money.”

Singapore charges an entry fee for local residents seeking to enter the state’s two casinos and Japan has chosen to adopt the same model in its IR Implementation Bill. Residents will need to pay 6,000 yen (about US$54) to enter the casino once the properties open.

However, to date, there has been no research into whether such fees actually deter potential problem gamblers from entering a casino, or reduce risky behavior.

“It’s very concerning when we see something that could have such a great impact,” said Dr. Kahlil Philander, Assistant Professor, University of Washington. “Japan is going to adopt this as one of the main pillars of its responsible gambling legislation and it’s disconcerting about what the unintended consequences may be.”

Philander said research has shown that a problem gambler will still enter the casino, even if the entry fee is raised, while the recreational gambler is the one more likely to walk away.

The panelists agreed that self-exclusion measures are an effective tool, though they are focused on the person who has already developed a gambling problem, rather than preventing the behavior in the first place. (AGB)