Opinion: Gambling prevention

POSTED: 01/27/12 2:41 PM

Wow, casino managers, attention please. Today Marco Rosman publishes his book ‘Rien ne va plus’, an excellent title for a book about gambling. Rosman worked two decades for state monopolist Holland casinos. The government thought that, by giving Holland casinos the exclusive right to exploit gambling houses it could get a grip on gambling addiction.
Rosman writes in his book that this is, let’s say, a humongous misunderstanding.
Holland casinos are obliged to take action to prevent addictive gambling. In reality, Rosman writes, the company encourages addicts to continue, among others by pampering them and by offering them expensive alcoholic drinks.
Gambling prevention is based on so called client-conversations, whereby the casino is supposed to talk up close to addictive gamblers. In reality, Rosman writes, these meetings are an administrative exercise, designed to meet the numbers that will give the impression that Holland casinos does enough to protect addicts against their gambling habits.
Talks with addicted gamblers seldom result in serious action. Tens of thousands of problem gamblers keep playing on undisturbed, Rosman claims.
An interesting claim is that the casinos distribute pictures of “large customers” among their staff to enable them to recognize lucrative players.
It all makes sense, even though Holland casinos, that make several attempts to prevent Rosman from publishing his book, now denies that the information is accurate. Prevention is a core activity, the company said in a reaction.
We have a hard time to believe that we only have to look at the casinos in St. Maarten to know that prevention is the least of the worries these companies have. Of course, our casinos are not state-owned (some would argue that the state is casino-owned) but that does not take away the state’s responsibility for an addiction prevention-policy in fields like gambling and smoking. But what happens here? Nothing. The Gaming control board will never become a reality as long as certain casinos sponsor certain political parties. We have known for years that casino controllers contribute nothing to keeping locals from gambling, even if they show up for work.
So why would things in the Netherlands be different? Casinos are centers for money laundering and associated criminality the world over. Why would that be different in the Netherlands or in St. Maarten? The lack of supervision and the lack of political will to implement such supervision are clear signals: hands of the guys who control all that cash.
And it is not only the government that follows a hands-off approach (the attitude they ought to develop towards government-owned companies): the opposition also remains remarkably silent. Reading Rosman’s book will most likely give an insight in how our local gambling houses operate as well. Some things never change.

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