Some truly relevant insights on gambling from contributing author Tucker Hoog. [Addresee's name withheld] My name is Tucker Hoog. I called the UCLA Gambling Studies Program today to try and get answers to two questions and they told me I should e-mail you. I’m very interested in casinos, what people say about them, and how people view them. I’m sure I’m not going to say anything you don’t already know, and I can go on about this stuff forever, so please bare with me.
My first question is are casinos comparable to bars? I see many people say things like “Much like the alcoholic has to live in a world filled with bars and liquor stores, the gambling addict has to find a way to maintain control in a world of casinos and race tracks.” Steven Hart, who used to be President of the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling said that. Other people say “casinos don’t cause gambling addiction anymore than a bar creates alcoholics.” I know there are addicts in both a bar and a casino. But a bar doesn’t do anything to encourage alcoholics (other than happy hour). A casino will send offers for free play, hotel rooms, and food. They actively reward you for playing longer and with more money. A bar does not give you anything for drinking more beers in a shorter time frame. A bar doesn’t make outrageous claims with their advertisements like casinos do by saying how many millions they have paid out or “you can’t lose.” The most a bar promises is a fun night at a cost. The casinos present themselves as life changing, harmless, almost free entertainment and it’s ironic that they’ve cost so many people so much. I’ve seen many people get thrown out of a casino and to my knowledge the casino is never investigated. After a few fights happen in a bar that bar is shut down for a time period. I feel like bars are socially acceptable. So when people compare casinos to bars they are trying to push casinos as a socially acceptable form of entertainment. People are also addicted to nicotine, caffeine, heroin, and cocaine, but casinos are never compared to those industries. I understand that people get addicted to both but we treat alcohol and casinos very differently as a society.
My second question is is there anything inherently dangerous about casinos? As a society we make it common knowledge that alcohol, tobacco, drugs, too much sugar, too many calories, etc, comes with risks. The substance is dangerous, and the user needs to be informed. Every alcohol and tobacco container comes with a health warning. Food is labeled with nutritional information. Casinos, on the other hand, are always assumed to be safe and the user is assumed to be dangerous. There is no product information in casinos. There are no warnings. They list the signs and symptoms of being a problem gambler and put a big “IF” in front of that list and ask the sick person to self diagnose. No alcohol or tobacco product lists the signs and symptoms of drinking too much or cancer or liver disease. The casinos don’t even put that list on the product. It’s usually at the entrance and exit to a casino.
Thank you for taking the time to read and consider what I wrote. Anything you say would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for the work you do at the UCLA Gambling Studies Program.