Michigan takes problem gambling seriously, which is crucial as the state potentially embarks on expanding gambling to the internet, as well as to the world of sports. Online gambling should be a sustainable industry, and so it’s incumbent on states to publicize any data they have on problem gaming behavior.
According to updated figures this month from the Michigan Gaming Control Board, a total of 119 people through the first half of 2019 signed up to the state’s casino Disassociated Persons list, which is voluntary and prohibits an individual from legally being able to visit the three Detroit casinos.
Eighty-eight of those gamblers were male, while 31 were female. In 2018, there were 249 additions to the list, 181 men and 68 women. Michigan is on pace for 238 sign-ups this year.
Since 2001, a total of 4,674 individuals have placed themselves on the list. Men account for 3,016 of the total, while there are 1,658 women on the list.
In addition to a lifetime self-ban, the properties are barred from soliciting the patronage of people on the list through any advertisements. Some people on the list do return and risk a fine and jail time.
Still some ways to go
Nearly 5,000 people have self-excluded from the Detroit properties, but that figure probably should be higher. An estimated 0.5% of Michigan adults (about 38k people) were believed to “manifest a gambling problem,” according to a 2016 report from the National Council on Problem Gambling.
The 0.5% figure came via results of a 2013 survey.
While 38k might sound like a lot of people, it’s reportedly low compared to many other states. According to a study by WalletHub published this year, Michigan is the best in the country in terms of a percentage of adults with a gambling disorder. Michigan is the 10th most populous state in the country.
However, according to an article by The Detroit News published in March of this year, there’s an estimated 300k “problem gamblers” in Michigan.
The Michigan Association of Problem Gambling estimates 100,000 people in Michigan “have struggled with [a]gambling disorder.” Clearly, more research would be of benefit.
The number of people on the MGCB list could be higher if it was extended to more than just the commercial casinos. Michigan has more than 20 tribal casinos sprinkled around the state, which are not involved with the list. Some of those casinos have their own self-exclusion programs.
To further aid the problem gambling community, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services maintains a 24-hour toll-free helpline, 1-800-270-7117.
According to state figures, the hotline received 3,115 gambling-related calls in fiscal year 2018.
The online gambling bill on the table in Lansing also addresses problem gambling. The bill proposes that an additional $1 mm annually would go to the state’s Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund. Michigan already spends more than $2 mm annually on problem gambling help.
The Michigan Lottery already has a self-exclusion program for its online games.