NCRG Conference: Pre-commitment As A Responsible Gaming Strategy – Is The Smart Card That Smart?

Continuing the theme of “Exploring New Trends in Recovery, Research and Responsible Gaming,” Monday’s NCRG Conference sessions took a close look at responsible gaming strategies. The afternoon session let by Robert Ladouceur, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at Laval University, talked about smart cards and examined whether or not they were effective in encouraging responsible play among gamblers.

Dr. Ladouceur began the session by defining responsible gaming as a set of policies and practices designed to prevent and reduce potential harms associated with gambling. Responsible gaming aims to restrict expenditure to affordable limits. More specifically, the objective is to decrease the incidence of problem gambling.

Dr. Ladouceur provided two options to achieve this goal:

  1. Supply reduction:strategies that are intended to achieve social, health and safety benefits by reducing the availability of gambling
  2. Demand reduction:strategies aimed at motivating users to gamble less overall and/or less per occasion

He noted that the main difference between supply reduction and demand reduction is that the former focuses on external control while the latter focuses on internal control. When developing interventions, Dr. Ladouceur stated that the focus should be on internal controls.

One such strategy is pre-commitment (also known as smart cards), which is a system that enables gamblers to set money and time limits on expenditures prior to the commencement of a session of play. This concept was first introduced by Mark Dickerson in Australia, and his studies indicated that most gamblers lose control while they are gambling, and therefore, gamblers should determine the amount of time and money they will allocate before (rather than during) the gambling session.

Some jurisdictions have proposed implementing mandatory pre-commitment systems, but Dr. Ladouceur questioned whether or not there is sufficient evidence to implement a mandatory pre-commitment system to all inhabitants in a given jurisdiction.

He reviewed several studies on pre-commitment and noted that meaningful conclusions cannot be drawn as to whether or not it was effective. He stated that “although the notion of mandatory pre-commitment appears very compelling and possibly useful, its implementation appears to be dictated by a political rather than a scientific agenda.“

For more from the 13th annual NCRG Conference, make sure to stay tuned to Gambling Disorders 360.

NCRG staffConference on Gambling and Addictioneducationgamblinggambling disordersharm-reductionsmart cards