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Mega-Casino Bans Problem Gamblers

The world's largest casino company is creating a list of problem gamblers who would be barred for life from all Park Place Entertainment casinos, company officials said Tuesday.

Problem gamblers on the list would also lose any jackpots they win on return visits to Park Place casinos, which include Caesars, Bally's and Hilton properties.

"By creating this innovative, industry-leading program, we are making the strongest possible statement about our company's commitment to responsible gaming," said Bernard E. DeLury Jr., Park Place executive vice president and general counsel.

People can be placed on the company's "Responsible Gaming List" by voluntary self-exclusion — or involuntarily if casino employees learn any of its patrons are problem gamblers.

A barred person could be kicked off casino property and forced to forfeit all winnings, and will not be able to receive credit, cash checks or receive complimentary services.

Though casinos often ban gamblers who are caught cheating and some have lists of names of people who ask to be barred, it is highly unusual to ban customers who showed evidence of having a gambling problem. People would not be involuntarily put on the list just for gambling a lot, but could be listed if casino staffers heard them express fear of financial ruin or other such comments.

I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in California who studies and consults on the gambling industry, said Park Place could be setting a positive trend.

"This is very strong," he said. "They don't have to do this. They are definitely taking pre-emptive action for reasons of morality, social consciousness and self-protection from lawsuits."

Voluntary, statewide self-exclusion lists have gained popularity as more states turn to gambling for revenue. Several states already have self-exclusion lists, said Kevin Mullally, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission.

But questions remain about the lists' legality and whether they are effective in deterring pathological gamblers. Rose warned that Park Place could be inviting legal trouble by recognizing some people have gambling problems.

"As sad as it sounds, recognizing a problem and trying to do something about it may invite lawsuits," he said.

Park Place owns, manages or has an interest in 29 gambling properties, operating under brand names including Paris, Flamingo and Grand Casinos.

Park Place will begin implementing the program in January.

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