Beginning Monday (June 26), entering casinos in at least one Canadian province will take a bit of extra time, as the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) begins checking the identification of all visitors before allowing them to enter.
The goal of the new restrictions is to enhance responsible gambling efforts across British Columbia.
Under the plan, every individual will be required to present government-issued photo identification prior to entry. BCLC officials said an ID will be scanned by security staff and automatically checked against the database of those restricted from entering casinos.
This includes a check of Game Break, the province’s self-exclusion program.
Pat Davis, BCLC’s president and CEO, said he believed that British Columbia was the first North American province or state that requires a mandatory ID check to enter a casino.
“Since announcing last month that these changes were coming, BCLC has been working to build awareness with out players about the new entry requirements and why they matter in helping us support individuals who have asked for our help,” Davis said in a statement.
If a name is found on the self-exclusion list, now known as Game Break, the individual will not be able to enter. The BCLC stressed that the system does not store any of the data that the casinos scan for entry.
As of May 1, there have been 10,818 enrollments and re-enrollments during the current 2022-2023 fiscal year, an increase from the 8,758 reported during the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
According to BCLC self-exclusion statistics, there has been 3,943 new enrollments, while there have been 4,278 total reported self-exclusion infractions. That compares with 3,524 new enrollments and 2,911 infractions reported for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
The Game Break program offers three options, including self-excluding from all gambling facilities with slot machines, including casinos, community gaming centers and slot floors at racetracks.
Those with gambling issues can also self-exclude themselves from all bingo halls, as well as local gaming centers and casinos offering bingo, and all online gambling on PlayNow.com, BCLC’s online lottery, sports and casino website.
Individuals can decide how long they wish to be excluded from gambling facilities or PlayNow.com, either six months, one year, two years or three years.
Anyone who choses to self-exclude will not be eligible for an iGaming account. If an account exists, it will be suspended, according to the BCLC.
Needing an ID to enter a casino is not a new idea, but targeting those who have self-excluded is a relatively new concept. For example, Circa Resort & Casino in downtown Las Vegas caters to those over 21 years of age and requires visitors to show an ID to enter the resort.
Government-issued photo identification has also been a requirement to collect slot machine jackpots, or other prizes that require reporting to the tax authorities and to confirm a visitor’s age at a bar, nightclub or on the casino floor.
Problem Gambling Diversion Court
As lawmakers prepare to adjourn for the summer on Friday (June 30), a bill establishing a gambling treatment diversion court pilot program in New Jersey remains in committee without a hearing scheduled.
Assembly Bill 420, sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, is the latest effort by state lawmakers to create an alternative to incarceration, similar to the so-called drug courts for substance addictions. Currently, the measure has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Another bill, Assembly Bill 5308, stuck in the Assembly Education Committee would require school districts to provide instruction on the risks of compulsive gambling to high school students.
Under the legislation for the diversion court, a pilot program would treat people diagnosed with a gambling addiction who have committed a crime because of their habit.
The pilot program, which will be overseen by the state's Administrative Office of Courts, would be established in one northern, one central and one southern court district. As part of the treatment, the program would require the person to pay restitution, and it would be managed by a mental health professional.
If the person adequately completes the treatment, their conviction would be set aside, but failure to complete the program allows the court to apply the original sentence.
The bill is modeled on a similar program in Nevada that began to hear cases in 2018 and graduated six individuals, with six other enrolled as of March 2023.
A similar effort last session ended with Assembly Bill 5604 referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, with a companion measure, Senate Bill 3976, sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both bills died in committee.