Stand-Up Gamblers

(Photo: Jeff Wilcox)

Anglicare, a Tasmanian welfare agency, has submitted a proposal to the Australian government’s inquiry into problem gambling that would require pokies (the Aussie version of a slot machine) players to stand up while playing.  “We don’t want to punish people, but there are things we can do to assist problem gamblers to get a break in play,” said Chris Jones, the CEO of Anglicare. “If they want a break, they can sit elsewhere, but they don’t need to take a seat in front of a machine.”

Anglicare also suggested “allowing more natural light into poker machine areas and bans on food and drink in all gaming areas.” Freakonomics readers, what do you think?  Will these nudges work?

(HT: Marginal Revolution)


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  1. David Youngberg says:

    I reminded of Tyler Cowen’s advice to keep meetings short: make everyone stand.

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  2. Dr. Thomas H Treutler says:

    Will these nudges work? Depends really on what you want to achieve! A positive side effect could not just be a slight reduction in gambling (assuming this is what they want to achieve), but improvements in the general health of gambler. This way they might spent less money on gambling on a per day basis but gambling halls might rejoice because in the long run gamblers will live longer (improved health) and they can make more money on each gambler.

    Well, we will know in 50 years if this really happens! 😉

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  3. Andrew Muchtar says:

    Wow, what a thought..? Standing, sitting or even laying on the floor be it….it’s all gamblers’ choice while playing the game. Don’t you want more gamblers coming in……?

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  4. Clancy says:

    I take it that smoking has already been banned in Australian casinos? In the US, it seems like casinos are the last indoor public spaces where smoking is still allowed.

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    • Fez says:

      Yep, smoking was banned in enclosed places around 2006/2007 (depending on state), that included casinos.

      I would like to point out that Australia only has a few traditional casinos (13 i think?) the vast majority of poker machines (slots) are in normal every day pubs and clubs.

      It’s depressing to go to some of these places where the gambling area takes up 2/3 of the place.

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    • Joe says:

      Correct.. smoking is banned pretty much indoors in most public places these days (at least in NSW/Australia)

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  5. Tim says:

    Is there a disability act in Australia? Would not providing seating violate this? Would only those that are disabled get seats? How would they verify this?

    This seems like a case of ruining the fun for the majority for the protection of the few. Cheap drinks and relaxing is part of the fun.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      Presumably they would verify their disabilities in the same way they do for anything else, which is with notes from their doctors that spell out the exact types of accommodation needed.

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    • Steve Bennett says:

      Same way as disabled parking, perhaps?

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  6. Steven Gangstead says:

    If you want to ban casinos then ban casinos. It’s kind of two faced to allow gambling, but put a bunch of crazy stipulations on it in the name of the gamblers’ welfare.

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    • Alex says:

      There’s no history in the article – but these slot machines – we call them pokies – are almost literally every pub and bar, they are a key component of these premises income – the problem isn’t casinos.

      I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else and it’s very difficult to explain without a full-on essay – so I’ve just found a link on the net, have a read:

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      • Joe says:

        Visit Western Australia, there are no pokies in pubs over there. I would like to see that here (NSW) but then again profits from the pokies at my local RSL go into funding a lot of local sporting events and clubs.. without the support from the RSl’s local sport would be prohibitively expensive for most people

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    • photoed says:

      Right! If you’re going to make ’em stand to decrease their gambling time, why not on one foot?

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    • Enter your name... says:

      Yeah, all those crazy stipulations just hurt the bottom line. I’d start by eliminating the one that says the machines have to be properly maintained and play fair. The owners will make far more money if they don’t have to pay out at the usual odds, and why should we have these crazy regulations to protect the gamblers at the expense of the owners?

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      • Steven Gangstead says:

        The purpose of my comment was to point out that if you are concerned about gamblers’ welfare then the only effective thing is to ban gambling. Once you allow gambling in any form it’s a slippery slope to the farcical suggestions you made.

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  7. Viktor Hauk says:

    My first hunch: there will be a lot of tired and hungry gamblers in Tasmania.

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  8. Ian M says:

    Make people stand up while shooting heroin at safe injection sites too. I’m sure that will deter them.

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