Bad Regulations Can Leave a Scar

A ridiculous requirement that applicants for gaming licenses must report all “scars” on their bodies to the regulatory authority is a great metaphor for the scars that encircle bad and ineffective regulation, says former regulator Richard Schuetz.

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Bad Regulations Can Leave a Scar

“Public Service is my motto”—Al Capone        

I am going to keep this really simple and talk about a thing regulators do that, in my opinion, makes little sense. Furthermore, they have done it for a long time. I did write about this in a broader context several years ago in American Gaming Lawyer. That article caused absolutely no change in the way anyone did anything, so I am going to take another stab at it here.

In the gaming suitability application almost all jurisdictions use it instructs the applicant to list all scars. Moreover, with this question there is a nearby warning that a failure to answer it completely and truthfully can result in having the application rejected. Mind you, we are talking about scars here. I think this is crazy.

I do believe I know where this question came from and that is from cops who migrated into gaming control. In law enforcement, one notes there are certain crimes that traumatize the victim, and the victim can suffer sensory lapses regarding certain details of the event. Examples of such crimes are when someone places a gun in someone’s face, or a sexual assault, or some other violent act upon a person. In such a situation the victim may blank on such details as eye or hair color, and other generally obvious facts. They may, however, remember some otherwise random detail such as a scar, and that may help solve the crime. Okay, I believe this is how this whole scar thing got into gaming regulation because in the early experiences of many agencies they hired a bunch of cops, and these cops behaved like cops once they became regulators.

So why are we asking about scars in today’s world of gaming regulation? Police investigating a crime may ask about scars in hopes of finding a perpetrator. In a gaming license investigation, we are looking to define suitability, we are not looking for a perpetrator.

If we wanted the scar information to determine suitability, we would need to run it through a scar data-base to see if this particular scar-bearer had some nefarious involvement with a past evil deed, and of course we do not do this. No, person after person lists their scars on an application and nothing ever becomes of it. Nothing.

Even if there was this great scar data-base it would be a worthless exercise to run an agency’s applications against it because I would guess damn near every application ever filed is non-compliant in the scar area.

Here is a test: In the U.S., in excess of 75 percent of all males have a most obvious scar from a circumcision. I think every gaming enforcement agency out there should look at its files of suitability applications and see if the listing of circumcisions varies by one standard error from the 75 percent baseline. If it does, I would immediately get your field agents to start visiting all of your licensees for a field audit. Get all of your licensees out there to “drop trou” and find those liars who are trying to trick you about their circumcisions and get them out of the industry, for once you start lying about your circumcisions, who knows what is next?

One in three American mothers have had a cesarean section. Better start the statistical test and the field audit so we can run these liars out of the industry for trying tried to hide this fact from the agency. Hey, if they are going to lie about a cesarean scar, how long before they start running a big skimming operation? And, approximately 10 percent of U.S. men have had vasectomies, so get those auditors to check that folks are in compliance in reporting those scars.

Does anyone believe people are recording their plastic surgery scars on gaming applications? Is it so damn important for a government employee to know if someone has had a breast implant, tummy tuck, or face lift? I would guess most people are not recording these tracers of medical events for most see the listing of these scars as a ridiculous exercise and excessively personal detail.

What is really weird is agency after agency continues to request this nonsense. And parts of it get worse. Why should a woman who has had a double mastectomy have to record this on a government application to see if she is suitable to work in the gambling industry? She then knows she will have to sit there with an agent as the agent goes over the application and that bit of information will also go into a government data base. This actually goes beyond stupid and into the insensitive, and yet our agencies are using an application that wants a scar inventory, with the warning that if it isn’t honored, the applicant can be found unsuitable.

I would hope at the next G2E we could have a regulatory panel with some of the biggest regulatory agency heads from around the U.S. They could explain the critical importance of collecting scar info in meeting their agency’s mission and goals. They could talk of the insights they have been able to gain by reviewing the scar charts of the key employees in the jurisdiction and how this has enhanced the brand and sustainability of the industry. They can also discuss how they audit this information to ensure compliance. Yes, that would be a great panel.

I think it would be great if IAGA could offer up a compliance webinar to talk through the best techniques to audit scars to ensure compliance with regulatory recording mandates, and IMGL could address how to handle that guy at the gym who is threatening to narc you out to the regulators for something he noticed in the shower. One cannot hope to ascend to the title of being a “gold standard jurisdiction” unless the jurisdiction has its act together with respect to recording scars.

The International Center for Gaming Regulation at UNLV could develop a best practices scar inventory policy and demonstrate how this has been a critical component in developing and regulating an industry that desires to be considered legitimate. The Boyd Law School could instruct new gaming attorneys on how to best check your client is not lying about his scars, and how to do a full-body scar check.

The AGA could contract with a research entity to show how much worse the industry would be had we not collected every applicants scar charts. Furthermore, this data could be shaped into a brilliant AGA public relations campaign so as inform the public that yes, we are collecting scar information before we allow executives to operate gambling in your community. After all, nothing says clean industry better than knowing the regulators know about every scar on every licensee.

I would suggest if you are running a regulatory agency and are threatening people with an adverse finding if they do not list all of their scars that you might want to think about how smart you are. I believe it is totally irrelevant information. It is ridiculously intrusive, and you are a fool if you believe people are being honest about it.

I also believe few, if any, regulators will do anything about it.

Articles by Author: Richard Schuetz

Richard Schuetz started dealing blackjack for Bill Harrah 47 years ago, and has traveled the world as a casino executive, educator and regulator. He is sincerely appreciative of the help he received from his friends and colleagues throughout the gaming world in developing this article, understanding that any and all errors are his own.