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. Chad says:

    These aren’t “nudges”. Nudges aren’t objectively inconvenient or undesirable.

    Governments thinking about this kind of ukase need to chill out. Ban casinos or don’t, but leave the stools alone!

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  2. Mike Verlezza says:

    Interesting idea. I am fascinated by the different ways governments try to legislate morality. It would be neat to see a casino section off a part of the game floor and dedicate it to standing-only gaming.

    The issue I see however, is that people are already getting up periodically to go to the bathroom. Diminishing marginal returns seem to indicate that you might not see the big shift you’re hoping for just by making them move around for more reasons. Three times the reasons to move does not necessarily yield three times the movement, especially as people cheat the system and sit, eat, drink and use the WC all in one trip – just to get back to the floor more quickly.

    -Mike Verlezza
    -Bridgewater State University

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  3. josh says:

    I believe that it would work for many people. I base the belief solely on my deciding to forego watching TV, even though I’m TV addicted, when I can’t find the remote control. I don’t think that it would work, though, for the gambling addicts who, I assume, are the targets of the proposal, because deeply addicted people, in pursuit of their substance or activity of choice, often work very hard under conditions that most people wouldn’t tolerate.

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  4. DaveyNC says:

    Based on the casinos I’ve been in, particularly in Mississippi and Louisiana, I doubt that many of those people could stand for more than three or four pulls on the one-armed bandit.

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  5. Jack Evans says:

    I think that if put in place these regulations would help those with gambling problems by forcing them to get out of the area and clear their head for a while. However, casinos are built to make money, and I don’t know about the lobbying power of casinos in Australia, but in the U.S. the casinos would never let those regulations be passed, as they could have a potentially damaging affect on their bottom line.

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  6. Eric M. Jones. says:

    The Amazing Johnathan had a gag where a stool would collapse and shove the center post up through the seat. Maybe that would work.

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  7. paul o. says:

    Gambling would be reduced without seating. However, addicted gamblers would reduce the amount of time gambling less than normal gamblers. Removing seating would be better at stopping normal gamblers than addicts. Addicts by definition are less affected by deterents to their fix. Think smokers outside in January or junkies using dirty needles.

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  8. Caleb b says:

    Agreed with other commenters: it will have no affect on addicts.

    How about treadmills in front of each machine. At least then you make people heathier.

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