Personal licensing of gamblers
Licensing is currently the most popular option among regulators for controlling gambling operations. However, approximately 20 per cent of operators are still public monopolies. Many forms of gambling (especially lotteries) are government-operated even in countries with a licensing system. This creates an inherent conflict of interest, given that government is supposed to protect the well-being of its citizenry and to reap the benefits of gambling at the same time. At least in the gambling monopoly, however, addressing the unavoidable harm that results from gambling should be a priority. Industry self-regulation and reliance on “responsible gambling” rely too much on individuals to control their own gambling. In this poster presentation it is shown that it is possible to provide more comprehensive consumer protection, recognising both the duty of governments to take care of their own citizens and the fact that industry self-regulation is not enough. Pre-commitment cards for gambling have been tested in various contexts, and have shown promise in terms of providing tools for individuals to restrict their own gambling. However, given the known shortcomings such as allowing the use of other cards and other venues, it is clear that in themselves they do not guarantee effective prevention. Personal gambling licensing is therefore presented as a way forward. Although the system will be applicable to other countries, the model suitable to Nordic countries is presented in the poster. Given that the underlying justification for gambling monopolies is to control gambling-related harm, in the cases of public monopolies such as Austria, Belgium, Portugal (Santa Casa) licensing could be combined with loyalty cards introduced by monopoly operators. This would provide a feasible alternative to current practices of responsible gambling.