Council on Compulsive Gambling Questions “Play Management” System for Plainridge Machines

The head of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling says she isn’t sure whether “play management” techniques at the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville will stop problem gamblers. Though Marlene Warner, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling, says she believes the self-limiting system will be a “helpful tool”, she isn’t certain whether it will eliminate the problem to an extent she could condone.

About Self-Limiting Technology

The self-limiting technology has been used in European countries and in Australia, but the Massachusetts implementation is the first time it’s been used in the United States.

The technology allows a gambler to set a loss limit when they sit down at a slot machine. If a person only wants to spend $100 maximum at the slots on a given day, then they set a limit on that play session of $100. When the player’s losses begin to approach that amount, the machine begins to warn the gambler that a dangerous threshold is being reached.

Pop-Up Messages Warn Gamblers

Warner says the pop-up messages might work to remind gamblers who are under control or non-compulsive. With the compulsive gambler, Warner believes it is naive to think such a system will convince them to stop.

According to the director of the Compulsive Gambling Council, addictive players are too intent on “chasing the win” to give up when a pop-up warning appears on the screen. Instead, adrenaline and competitiveness take over and they are driven to keep gambling, in the hopes the next wager will turn the tide in their direction. In such ways, casinos have continued to operate for decades, say opponents of casino gambling.

Praise for Penn National

Despite the skepticism, Marlene Warner praises the operators of the Plainridge facility, Penn National Gambling, for their willingness to try out such technological improvements. She told the Sun Chronicle, “Plainridge has been open and willing to be a test pilot.”

Eric Schippers, Penn National’s Vice President of Public Affairs, says that his company is trying to test out methods to help customers play responsibly. Schippers said, “We are working closely with the MGC on the implementation of this program and will be monitoring its effectiveness during live operations when Plainridge Park opens in June 2015.”

Problem Gambling Fund

Warner, for her part, says that Massachusetts is trying to find a variety of ways to make gaming safer for the mass market. Under the current laws, 5% of revenue must go into a fund which educates problem gamblers and assists them in getting the treatment they need. The fund is expected to raise about $15 million to $20 million per year, according to the estimates.

The funding system has yet to be tested out, either. Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission hired the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health to conduct a study on the best uses of the public fund. It is believed that the study will have a major effect on how the money is spent, when it comes time to direct funding.

Multi-Year Study

The study is going to take multiple years to conduct. Its purpose is to learn what the best ways are to prevent gambling problems, as well as treat those problems when they arise.

The research is currently testing to find a baseline of problem gambling, by surveying a sample of 1,100 gamblers. This database will be used to determine how much the increase of gambling venues in the state will have on the social and economic well-being of the state. Massachusetts has approved licenses for 3 new gambling facilities in the state, including the Wynn Resorts casino in Everett and a separate facility in Springfield.

Loss Limits in Gambling

“Loss limits” are not a new concept in gambling. The term is used when discussing money management techniques, as a way to stretch ones bankroll and continue playing longer. If used correctly, the loss limit helps a gambler to protect their bankroll and stop losing cash when bad luck inevitably comes. It requires an awareness that gambling allows for a risk of ruin, especially considering the casino holds a house edge on every deal of the hand, spin of the roulette wheel, roll of the dice, and spin of the slots.

Along with a win goal, players can manage how much money they gamble, therefore limiting how much they can potentially lose. A win goal sets an upward amount on winnings for a slots session. If a player wins a certain amount, that player walks away from the machine, locking in winnings. This keeps the player from losing through bad decisions all the money they won through good luck.

Though money management is a sound strategy to limit ones losses at the casino, the concept sometimes has a bad reputations with players. That’s because many scam artists and bogus authors write that money management can help beat the house edge–which is empathically not the case. If the casino has the advantage–and it usually does–no amount of clever betting is going to beat that advantage.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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