Disabilities and Gambling are Players Being Protected?

Written By Janice Doughtrey

Online casino companies offer protections for disabilities to their employees. There are no similar protections in place for their customers. Individuals with disabilities or mental health conditions, such as ADHD or autism, may be at greater risk of developing problem gambling behavior or may have difficulty controlling impulsive behavior related to gambling.

Online casino companies need to take responsibility for their customers’ well-being as they do for their employees by implementing measures to identify and support vulnerable individuals in a preventive manner.

Disabilities and Gambling: No Protections

Individuals with disabilities or mental health conditions may be at increased risk of developing problem gambling behavior. A systematic review by Chamberlain et al. [1] found that individuals with autism may have a higher prevalence of gambling behavior than neurotypical individuals.

They noted that this may be due to underlying neurocognitive differences, such as impulsivity or difficulties with decision-making. Similarly, individuals with ADHD may also be at increased risk of problem gambling behavior, as noted by a study by Chamberlain et al. [2].

However, despite the increased risk for problem gambling behavior among individuals with disabilities, online casino companies do not currently have any screening or inquiry process to identify these individuals and provide appropriate support or accommodations.

This is a significant concern as these individuals may be more prone to impulsive behavior related to gambling, leading to financial hardship or other negative consequences. Moreover, the absence of protection for vulnerable individuals implies that online casino companies do not care about their customers’ well-being and are solely focused on generating profits.

Laws and Protections for Employees with Disabilities

In contrast to their treatment of customers, online casino companies offer protections for employees with disabilities. Laws and regulations exist in many countries to protect employees with disabilities in the workplace, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States [3].

This legislation requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities as long as it does not cause undue hardship to the company.

Reasonable accommodations may include modifying the work environment or adjusting work hours to accommodate an employee’s needs. While these laws and regulations are critical to protecting employees with disabilities, it is important to note that they do not extend to customers of online casino companies. This disparity highlights the need for online casino companies to implement similar protections for their customers with disabilities.

Responsibility of Online Casino Companies

Online casino companies are responsible for prioritizing the well-being of their customers, including those with disabilities or mental health conditions. By implementing screening processes to identify vulnerable individuals, online casino companies can provide appropriate support and accommodations to reduce the risk of problem gambling behavior.

Aside from the moral obligation gambling companies have to their customers, there are also potential legal consequences if they fail to accommodate individuals with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for example, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in various contexts, including in employment and public accommodations.

Although the ADA does not explicitly apply to online gambling websites, some legal experts have argued that the law could cover online gambling as a public accommodation.[4]

UK Gambling Commission Regulations

Moreover, the UK Gambling Commission has implemented regulations requiring gambling companies to have policies and procedures in place to identify and help customers at risk of problem gambling.

This includes providing information about responsible gambling, self-exclusion options, and offering support to customers experiencing harm from their gambling activities. However, these regulations do not explicitly require gambling companies to screen their customers for disabilities or other conditions that may increase their risk of problem gambling.

Additionally, there is already language written into the UK Gambling Licence which could include a self-reporting feature for those with disabilities:

“Licensees must obtain and verify information in order to establish the identity of a customer before that customer is permitted to gamble. Information must include, but is not restricted to, the customer’s name, address and date of birth.[5]”

While gambling companies are making strides in protecting their employees with disabilities, they are neglecting to extend the same protections to their customers. By failing to screen for disabilities or other risk factors, gambling companies are acting irresponsibly and putting vulnerable individuals at risk of harm. It is time for the industry to look closely at their policies and procedures and implement changes that better protect their customers.


  1. [1] Chamberlain, S. R., Stochl, J., Redden, S. A., Grant, J. E., & Sahakian, B. J. (2018). Autism spectrum traits in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 17, 21-26.
  2. [2] Chamberlain, S. R., Ioannidis, K., Leppink, E. W., Niaz, F., Redden, S. A., Grant, J. E., & Sahakian, B. J. (2019). ADHD symptoms in non-treatment seeking adults with gambling disorder. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23(3), 319-329.
  3. [3] Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (1990). Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/ada.cfm
  4. [4] Kathleen V. Wade, Challenging the Exclusion of Gambling Disorder as a Disability Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 64 Duke L.J. 947-89 (2015)
    Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol64/iss5/4
  1. [5] Gambling Commission. (2019). LCCP: Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.4.1. Retrieved from Extract of Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) for Casino (gamblingcommission.gov.uk)


Additional Resources You May Find Helpful:

  1. US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. (n.d.). Youth Disclosure and the Workplace: Why, When, What, and How? Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/publications/fact-sheets/youth-disclosure-and-the-workplace-why-when-what-and-how#:~:text=The%20laws%20require%20that%20qualified,you%20must%20disclose%20your%20disability.
  2. Equality and Human Rights Commission. (n.d.). Disability discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/disability-discrimination
  3. Citizens Advice. (n.d.). What counts as disability discrimination? Retrieved from https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/discrimination-because-of-disability/what-counts-as-disability-discrimination/#:~:text=It%20is%20against%20the%20law,at%20work
  4. Australian Human Rights Commission. (n.d.). A brief guide to the Disability Discrimination Act. Retrieved from https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/disability-rights/brief-guide-disability-discrimination-act
  5. Autistic traits in young adults who gamble. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32641183/#:~:text=Conclusions.%3A%20These%20data%20suggest%20a,aspects%20of%20impulsivity%20and%20compulsivity.
  6. Executive function in high-functioning autism: Decision-making consistency as a characteristic gambling behaviour. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29500074/
  7. Impact of ADHD symptoms on clinical and cognitive aspects of problem gambling. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25440600/

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