ID readers coming to B.C. casinos: CEO
Published Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:27PM PDT
The BC Lottery Corporation will install electronic ID readers as early as next week as part of a suite of new checks to prevent minors from getting into casinos after a CTV News hidden camera investigation.
And in the near future, those ID readers could be hooked up to company databases to prevent self-declared problem gamblers from getting into casinos to gamble as well, said BCLC President and CEO Michael Graydon.
"There's no question, your investigation had some impact, and that has raised some questions about why it took this type of situation to create the urgency around this," Graydon told CTV News.
Earlier this month CTV News hidden cameras watched as two minors were able to enter unchallenged into three out of four selected major casinos in the Lower Mainland.
Once inside, the two minors – both 18 and part of the program with their parents' permission – were able to gamble a few dollars at slot machines and order drinks. The drinks were either dumped down the drain or left at the bar.
While it is technically illegal for minors to be allowed into casinos, the penalties for allowing a minor into a bar are much greater: a $10,000 fine and an order to shut down for as many as 15 days.
Solicitor-General Shirley Bond, whose ministry is responsible for gaming, ordered lottery executives to solve the problem when she heard of the CTV investigation.
Initially, executives including Graydon were reluctant to ID customers, because they believed it would get in the way of the free flow of people that encourages a fun gaming experience.
But Graydon said it was pressure from the minister that changed their minds.
"Our minister, Shirley Bond, has been very clear of her expectations on this and we're working very closely with her," he said.
BCLC will also check ID throughout the casino floor, conduct random ID checks of customers, and ensure staff check anyone who looks under 25.
The corporation will also bring in two types of electronic readers to test which is better to work in casinos. One is a handheld unit, while the other would operate from a kiosk at the entrance of the building, Graydon said.
Initially, the system wouldn't connect to a database of self-declared problem gamblers (in BCLC lingo, members of the "voluntary self-exclusion program") but that is one goal in the medium term of the system, he said.
"The database connection is one option we're looking at in the medium term to see if there are solutions," Graydon said. "It needs to be able to react to voluntary self exclusion, underage people, all those things, and we need to make sure that we are effective," he said.
Graydon said he didn't know how much the measures would cost but he said it was worth it.
"Cost is irrelevant. Our social responsibilities are what's important. We need to make the right choices," he said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward and Mi-Jung Lee