- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2001

Just what we need, another law that is completely unenforceable. The great state of New Jersey has just passed a law allowing compulsive gamblers to ban themselves from casinos. However, there seem to be some problems on how to enforce it. This situation falls under the heading of compulsive lawmaking, a condition that affects most of our state governments. The lawmakers are concerned about privacy issues. It's a "let's make a law and see what happens" situation.

Gamblers who know they have a problem can provide the state with personal information and a photograph. The state provides the information and photo to the casinos. The casino is then charged with keeping the gambling addict out. Who is the bad guy here? All of a sudden the guy with the problem has dumped it off on the casino. Why is it necessary to get the state involved at all? Couldn't the compulsive gambler deal with the casino and ask them to keep him off the premises?

If the gambler's compulsion is so serious he has to enlist the aid of the state, are we to believe he won't find another way to gamble? How about the Internet? Will he appeal to the World Wide Web to keep him off-line? Does someone with an affliction this serious ever think about getting help from a psychiatrist? Maybe he feels the odds of his getting well are not in his favor. We are asking the casino to screen every individual that comes through the door. They do that to some extent now to weed out professional cheats, but there is no law requiring them to screen everyone.

This is akin to an alcoholic asking the state to keep him out of bars, and will be just about as effective. A question arises as to whether or not someone requesting the ban should be banned from the entire casino/hotel complex or just the gambling hall. You can see the state hasn't done a very good job in looking at the consequences of the new law. I suppose the legislators didn't want to appear unsympathetic to the compulsive gambler, and now find themselves in a quandary.

Should they work the bugs out of the law and find the ban helps, there will be additional requests for laws to help compulsive shoppers. Husbands will be asking wives to register with the state, and wives will be forced to provide personal information and a photo to department stores within a 500-mile radius. Their names will also be provided to those television shopping channels, and they will be dropped from all catalogue mailing lists.

Public comments on the problem are being accepted. There is some question as to how long a name should remain on the list. Do we have a lot of compulsive gamblers, who after seeing the error of their ways, gamble just a little bit? I don't think so. Also, can you change your mind after you put your name on the list? Would someone who has been banned decide to gamble all his money on the state lottery? This law shouldn't be refined, it should be tossed out.

Dick Boland is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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