It is, although it might as well not be, an offence to allow alcohol to be served to a person who is already drunk. The interest of the pub trade has always distorted judgment like over-proof liquor when it comes to calling time on inebriation. Today, betting shops voluntarily assume parallel duties to discourage problem gamblers. The suspicion must be that the question “Sir, is it really a good idea to stuff another £100 into that machine?” will be heard no more often than “Sorry, you’ve had enough” is bellowed across the bar. Of course, a new industry code pledging to train staff to identify and tackle problem habits is better than nothing. But pedlars do not make effective addiction counsellors.
The (slightly) more serious question is whether, through computerised prompts, users of so-called fixed-odds betting terminals can be “nudged” away from their most destructive habits – pre-committing to monetary or time limits, which software will then automatically remind them about. The answer matters, not only for the unhappy individuals involved but also for the communities in which they live.
Read the full article in The Guardian online.