Arizona gamblers banning themselves from casinos


(AP) – Gamblers who don't know when to quit are banning themselves from casinos in Arizona.

But for some it hasn't been easy.

Several gamblers who have violated their self-exclusion contracts have been refused winnings, kicked out, and even arrested for trespassing.

A total of 380 Arizona residents have elected to ban themselves since the policy began about a year ago, according to Christa Severns, spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Gaming.

The Tohono O'odham Gaming Authority, which operates the Desert Diamond casinos in the Tucson area, has expelled three or four gamblers for violating self-imposed bans this year, according to Joe Calabrese, CEO of the gaming authority.

The casino also has experienced instances when banned gamblers persisted in trying to sneak in and were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing, he said.

Desert Diamond for years has maintained its own procedures to allow gamblers to ban themselves and has about 100 names on its in-house banned list, Calabrese said.

But before last year, those who banned themselves at Desert Diamond could still gamble at other Arizona casinos.

Now, Arizonans who ban themselves are excluded from all state casinos.

People can choose to be banned for one, five or 10 years.

Once enacted, the ban cannot be undone, even if the person has a change of heart, Severns said.

But do the bans really work?

A 200-person study in Canada found that about a third of people abstained from all gambling during their self-imposed ban, while more than half switched to lotteries or other wagering.