Once again I have to give kudos to a company that gets it. Harvard University partnered up with bwin to track and study the root causes of online addiction to discover ways to prevent problem gambling. For those of us familiar with the bright side of poker but more importantly the dark side of the game it’s a refreshing stance to be taken by an online poker site.
Invariably, there were some critics who thought something smelled funny in a private study funded by an online gaming company. To prove their motives were altruistic bwin and Harvard have tried to make their data open and available to other scientists. In an effort to advance the empirical evidence and knowledge base of addictions, bwin will make available actual Internet gaming activity records. Bwin seeks to accelerate their understanding of problem gaming and institute mechanisms to detect it early.
I made this comparison before but this is night and day from the studies done by cigarette companies in the 50s and 60s. Then they used the studies to figure out how to addict people and did it in their own closed offices in military like top secret fashion. Now, this study is being done out in the open, in partnership with Harvard, and it’s to prevent harmful habits rather than accelerate them.
I thought the cigarette companies were idiots from the beginning. Their science shouldn’t have been researching how to addict their customers, it always should have been figuring out a way to make their product non-harmful. Forty years of research may have discovered a cigarette that doesn’t inflict cancer, a filter that delivers the nicotine without the carcinogens, or any number of advances.
However, I must be clear, I compare gaming to cigarettes only to reveal how different they are from one another. Certain people struggle with gambling addictions but the vast majority of players can enjoy it responsibly at an even keel. This study seeks to help and prevent the few that struggle with their compulsions from getting addicted and to foster a healthy gambling relationship with those that don’t struggle with it.
For those of us that play online poker, that have a conscience, efforts like this might relieve some of the survivor-guilt. I personally don’t want to play somebody that can’t afford to lose what he’s gambling. There is the saying a fool and his money are soon parted, so if not by me someone else will do it, BUT if the opponent has a problem that he can’t control I’d rather play someone else. The fact that these players play poker online beyond their control still does not sit right with me. Online poker should be about fun, making money off people that can afford to lose it, and wagering folks that are wagering for the right reasons.
It’s refreshing to see an online poker site that agrees with me. Live casinos will boot a player that is so drunk he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Some are winning but most are losing. In the long run that’s a good policy. In the short run the player may complain. They also track problem gamblers and try to help them out. Bwin doing the same is a great thing. I love to scoop pots, I love to play bad players, but I don’t like to take from somebody that is playing afford to give it. Such a weird dichotomy for us poker players.
On February 16th, Professor Howard J. Shaffer, Director, Divisons of Addictions, will participate in a discussion in Burssels hosted by the European Gaming and betting Association. For more invormation visit http://www.thetransparencyproject.org.