As casino gambling opportunities continue to expand in Kansas, so do the concerns of many residents about the impact those casinos have on problem gamblers and their families.
That’s why it’s disappointing to learn that the Golden Eagle Casino near Horton has eliminated the option of people voluntarily barring themselves from the gaming facility.
According to newspaper reports, Golden Eagle Casino, operated by the Kickapoo tribe, sent out letters a few weeks ago telling people who had put themselves on a list that barred them from the casino that the list no longer would be maintained or enforced. Casinos officials said it had become too difficult to manage the list of hundreds of people who were to be arrested for trespassing if they tried to come to the casino.
“It’s a very, very difficult business to identify people,” said general manager Steve Dole, adding that providing people other avenues to deal with the gambling addiction was a better option.
Given modern technology, it doesn’t seem that maintaining and enforcing such a list would be overly cumbersome. If casino operators really want to help problem gamblers, maintaining the list should simply be a cost of doing business.
News reports didn’t detail what other avenues the casino operator had in mind, but whatever they are, gamblers on the list apparently didn’t find them particularly effective. Being willing to put themselves on a list that invites their arrest if they go to a casino indicates these people have a tough addiction that hasn’t been effectively curbed in other ways.
Members of the Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling have indicated they plan to meet with Golden Eagle officials to see whether the voluntary list can be restored. Self-prohibition measures are part of the legislation passed a few years ago covering state-owned casinos but are not required for tribal casinos.
When tribal groups sought compacts to open casinos in Kansas and again when legislation was passed to allow expanded casino gambling in the state, many promises were made about the steps that would be taken to help problem gamblers and prevent gambling addiction and the associated social and financial problems.
For the good of the state, casino operators and state officials now need to make sure those promises are honored.