Should you know your wins...and losses?

By Jennifer Lin

Usually, it’s three strikes and you’re out. But Rep. Paul Clymer, a Republican from Bucks County, is swinging for the fences again on a matter that means a lot to him: compulsive gambling.

Clymer, a member of the House Gaming Oversight committee, has co-sponsored a bill to require casinos with “rewards” programs to send monthly statements to customers who have won or lost more than $500.

Clymer argues that if casino patrons -- and their families – know how much they’re ahead (or not) it might curtail compulsive behavior.

“This is one of the red flags we want to send up to try to help families,” Clymer said in an interview. “We have so many laws in place to protect people from harming themselves. But when it comes to gambling, we just seem to turn our backs and walk away from it.”

Clymer has sponsored similar legislation three times before. Last year, the bill was voted out of the House, but was stopped in its tracks in the Senate. This time around, Clymer added the $500 threshold.

Clymer said he is not sure yet whether the House Gaming Oversight committee will hold a new hearing on the matter, but he has reason to be hopeful. One of the bill’s co-sponsors is Rep. Mauree Gingrich, a Republican from Lebanon. Last week, Gingrich was named the new chair of the gaming committee.

The gaming industry has pushed back on the idea of monthly statements, saying it would cost too much money to issue them.

A spokesperson for SugarHouse said its patrons who have signed up for its Rush Rewards Player’s Club cards can request their statements anytime. Jack Horner, a SugarHouse spokesman, said cardholders can complete an online request form and receive a statement by mail.

Democrats on the gaming committee also don’t like the idea. Bill Thomas, a spokesman for Rep. Rosita Youngblood of Philadelphia, the Democratic chair of the committee, said people may just stop using their rewards cards to avoid having statements sent home. “If you have a truly addictive gambler, it might have a negative impact or reverse what he wants the legislation to do,” Thomas said.