New Bill That Would Alter Michigan’s Self-Exclusion List For Gambling Could Be A Good Thing

Posted By Derek Helling on February 21, 2020

One of the primary concerns for Michigan in its legal gambling regulation is providing protection and resources for its citizens with compulsive gambling issues. A new bill that would modify the state’s procedures on its self-exclusion list could act in that interest.

The bill, HB 4686, repeals some of the existing language on the state’s books and adds more. While it may seem like a small change, it could have a big impact.

What is Michigan’s self-exclusion list all about?

Currently, Michigan offers the option for residents to place themselves on a list of disassociated people. Doing so will effectively ban them from being able to gamble legally.

All licensed gaming establishments, like the state’s coming retail sportsbooks, receive regular updates on the list. State law requires them to check new account registrations against that list.

If they find an individual is on the list, state law requires them to escort the person from the premises immediately and notify law enforcement. From there, law enforcement decides how to handle the situation.

The idea behind this program is it prevents those with compulsive gambling issues from putting themselves in danger. Additionally, it protects the gaming establishments from any liability.

Under current law, people who sign up for this list in Michigan remain on the registry for the rest of their lives. The new bill could change that.

What would change if HB 4686 becomes law?

Most of the changes in the language of Michigan’s existing law are clarifications. They don’t change the actual impact of the law but rather simply make it easier to read. At the same time, there is one significant alteration in the bill.

HB 4686 would allow Michiganders to petition to have their names removed from the list as early as five years after placing themselves on it. It’s important to note that just as placement on the list is voluntary, so would this removal be as well.

Because of that, this bill might meet some opposition. Opponents could argue that those with gambling problems are put back into a vulnerable position by this change.

On the other hand, this change could be a net positive. The option to remove oneself after five years might increase the popularity of the program among those who need to use it.

Why this could increase usage of the disassociated person list

For people with gambling problems, reaching out to get help is a crucial step to recovery. Every possible resource that becomes available enhances the chances of such individuals doing so.

The thought of effectively banning themselves for life may have been a step too far in the minds of problem gamblers in Michigan before. The potential benefit of this change is all about psychology.

With an option to remove themselves from the list, such people may see using it as more of a finite timeout from legal gambling instead of a “life sentence.” It also creates a measurable goal for such individuals, that if they can “stay clean” for five years, they can reward themselves by removing themselves from the list.

Although it’s uncertain whether this bill will become law as currently written, it could be a positive change for Michigan. Either way, Michigan’s self-exclusion list is a free resource designed to help those with gambling problems to help themselves.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago, IL. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law. Recently, he has written about the expanded gambling industry in Michigan, including online sports betting, online casinos, and the cornerstone land-based casino market.

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