Oregon Lottery: Lawmakers begin work on responsible-gambling plan
In the far corner of Ace Tavern on Sandy Boulevard in Portland, framed posters advising customers on gambling addiction are sandwiched between the games and the ATM machine. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian)
- Read the full series as it is published on OregonLive.com.
- Day 1: Agency pushes slot machines as problem gamblers pay the price
- Day 2: Slot machines call to gamblers across the state
- Day 3: Gamblers hooked on slot machines leave a trail of debt, divorce and despair
- Day 4: Lawmakers, counting on the cash, resist reforms
- Day 5: The Internet takes gambling into living rooms
After coming under increasing pressure from state lawmakers, the Oregon Lottery has begun work on a formal responsible-gambling plan.
The bones of the plan, made public this year, add some initiatives to cut down on problem gambling and codify practices already in place.
Here are some of the highlights:
Over the next six months or so, the five-member Lottery Commission will adopt a responsible-gambling “code of practice” to guide its policies. The code will be widely distributed to the public and to lottery employees.
The plan calls for a “player management system,” that allows the lottery to more closely monitor behavior of those who gamble on video slot and poker machines.
Bars, restaurants and other outlets where games are available will be required to display materials that include the 877-MYLIMIT help line – which is current practice. The lottery also will maintain current bet limits, and continue to force cash-outs for any win above $1,250.
In the plan, the lottery makes a pledge to “take a systematic approach” to working with groups and agencies with a stake in responsible gambling, including the Oregon Health Authority, the
Legislature and the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling.
Jeff Marotta, a Portland-based problem-gambling consultant, commended the plan as “a significant step in the right direction.” But, in a memo to the Lottery Commission, he added, “This is not to say the plan is as good as it could be or that the plan will result in appreciable change.”
Among the problems he cites are the lack of any outside certification and no mention of designating a responsible gambling coordinator within the lottery.
The plan calls for extensive research into best practices and ways to use technology to encourage healthy gambling. But it doesn’t call for tracking or studying the amount of problem gambling on Oregon Lottery video machines.
That’s best left to organizations outside the lottery, says lottery Director Larry Niswender, who retires at the end of the month.
“We’ve been more focused on how do we fulfill the mission of the lottery in terms of offering games that they want and features they like,” he says. “I don’t know that it’s been the primary focus of our research to focus on problem gambling. But it certainly could be done by those in the intervention and treatment community, and we would support that.”
-- Harry Esteve