How Can Visually Impaired People Gamble? Risks & Legal Struggles
When gambling, one has to pay attention to a lot of things. With visual impairments, someone might have a difficult time doing that without help.
First, you need to keep your eye on the prize, then on the cards/dice/ball, then know the lucky number/s and prepare for the next round.
Let’s explore how a visually impaired player might experience it.
What is 'Visual Impairment'?
Visual impairment is the name given to a condition in which the loss of sight experienced cannot be treated with correction or glasses.
How is Visual Acuity Measured?
Vision acuity is measured by the Snellen test. This test consists of a rectangular board with letters that get smaller as the lines descend.
This eye chart consists of rows of letters, each representing the minimum distance a person with regular acuity could see.
A score of 6/60 can be read like this:
- The first number is the distance between you and the chart
- The second number depends on the line you’re reading. The first and most extensive line is translated as 60, and the smallest one is translated as 6
What’s the normal range?
A normal acuity vision is noted as 6/6.
Types of Visual Impairment
- Sight impaired
- Severely sight impaired
The RNIB tells us you need to fall in the following categories to be registered as a person with visual impairment in the UK.
- Have a visual acuity of 3 / 60 to 6 / 60. You can have a full field of vision
- Have a visual acuity of up to 6 / 24. You also need to have a moderately reduced field of vision
- Have a visual acuity of 6/18 or better, but a substantial part of your field of view has to be missing
Severely Sight Impaired
- Have a visual acuity of less than 3 / 60. You must have a full field of vision
- Have a visual acuity between 3 / 60 and 6 / 60. You must have a significantly reduced field of vision
- Have a visual acuity of 6 / 60 or above and a very restricted field of vision
Blind Players within Legislation
The Equality Act of 2010 legally protects people with disabilities from being discriminated against during the course of the provision of a service.
This applies to both direct and indirect discrimination:
- Direct discrimination happens when a person treats another person with a protected characteristic less favourably than they would a person without the protected characteristic.
- Indirect discrimination occurs when a discriminatory criterion is applied to a protected characteristic.
UKGC on casino services for Visually Impaired Players
In our search to find something about UKGC’s policies on visually impaired players, we found how to report online casino scams, but we couldn’t find anything that corresponds.
Perhaps this type of information is not yet available, but it will hopefully be in the near future.
As is with other types of impairments, catering to the needs of people with sight loss should be a general rule of thumb. This means casinos should also perfect their services.
The Risk of Addiction is just as Big for Impaired People
Studies show that, when exposed to gambling as a distraction, people with health and social care needs may let it become a habit.
This can easily become an addiction or a cause of great anxiety.
Not many studies have been made so far regarding visually impaired players and the effects of gambling on them.
However, you must understand that for disadvantaged people, addiction can manifest more aggressively or just different from what we are used to.
Charities for Visually Impaired People
- The Royal National Institute of Blind People
- Christina Noble Children’s Foundation
- Sight Research UK
- Blind Veterans UK
To help sight-impaired people all across the UK, many charities have bloomed along the way.
Although there are too many to exhibit here, these are just a few you can donate to or request help from.
Feel Good Friday Lottery
This lottery is organised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People for visually impaired players.
Feel Good Loterry attributes:
- Like every other gambling organisation, the Feel Good Friday Lottery is also licenced by the Gambling Commission in the UK
- Every week, 150 cash prizes can be won. This should be a decent deal for any blind gambler
- The draws are made every Friday, and you only need to pay £1 for one ticket
The Royal National Institute of Blind People is one of the biggest UK charities concerning people with sight loss.
As it says on their website, their experts provide emotional support, reading aid, and inspiration for change.
Their mission challenges them to campaign for change regarding people with sight loss and their needs.
The RNIB charity trains experts in order to elevate their knowledge in educating and helping people with visual impairments in various domains.
BlindAid is a London-based charity for people with visual impairments that has served the community ever since 1834.
- Their strongest wish is to build connections and reduce loneliness within the community
- To do this, BlindAid organizes community-based projects that people can attend to meet others with the same or complementary experiences
- In its mission to build connections, BlindAid also reduces the isolation that comes with this impairment
This is the oldest charity of its kind in the United Kingdom
When it comes to enjoying gambling activities in healthy ways, visually impaired players can’t enjoy the games of big operators in the casino industry.
There are almost no gambling sites that provide online gambling services for people with sight loss.
And those who do, deny real money gambling.
This seems to at least point to a lack of accessibility on the internet for people who have impaired vision.
A Call to Action
The RNIB bravely takes a part of the responsibility of spreading the word on making information, especially in the media, more easily accessible for people with visual impairment.
Discrimination at Casinos for visually impaired players
Although not many, there are some cases where various press publications serve as archives for people’s flawed thinking when it comes to visually impaired people and their gambling.
This happens in the two situations below, where different degrees of discrimination are applied.
Casino abuses are not normal and shouldn’t be treated as such.
At 29, Hal Lubarsky decided to move to Las Vegas and become a recurrent name in Poker.
However, due to a hereditary condition, he lost his sight in 2004, and things began to change for him.
When he returned to the world of Poker aided by a reader, a person to tell him the playing cards, Lubarsky proved how skilled he is as a blind Poker player and won several tournaments.
Hal Lubarsky’s highlights:
- Mostly, the casinos he played at had no problem accepting his reader
- The only exception was the 2007 World Series of Poker incident at Harrah’s casino
- Shortly before the tournament, Hal was told that the officials would not accept a reader at the poker table
The resolution for this case was quick, as Hal knew a precedent for poker table aids.
Here’s how he fought his case:
- He argued that in 2005, another poker player, William Rockwell, who had no arms and needed physical aid at the poker table, played in a similar tournament
- This precedent convinced the hotel to allow Hal Lubarsky, a blind person, to have a poker table aid
This may seem like a happy ending, but refusing a blind Poker player’s much-needed aid is discrimination.
“Disgusted” by a Casino – Nick Hill’s story and struggle
This case from 2016 shows what discrimination can really create – casino abuse.
While he was with his friends at a Grosvenor casino, Nick Hill, who is severely visually impaired, noticed he couldn’t see the Roulette wheel numbers displayed due to low light.
What happened next?
When he signalled this to the staff members, he was thrown out by the duty manager, who claimed that Nick Hill was “unfit to be gambling.” He was above the legal gambling age and behaved respectfully to the casino goods and personnel. We do not know if the casino banned him from entering again.
We checked this casino’s licence and it has an active one from UKGC. So far, it seems like nothing happened to the source of misconduct.
There’s no public resolution we know of for this casino abuse. This is the only news that involves Nick Hill and the Grosvenor casino in this dispute over discrimination.
However, we know that Nick submitted a formal complaint to the company regarding the duty manager who, as Nick says, kicked him out. We do not know if he intended to create a casino dispute or if he will in the future.
Learn what to do in cases of casino misconduct. Our Legal Guides page talks more about legal situations regarding casinos, including casino player rights and obligations.
How can Visually Impaired Players Gamble Easily?
Being a person with impaired sight could bring a lot of misunderstanding among non-disabled people.
That’s why so many of the objects made for humans don’t really take into account the impairments one might have.
Here are the main problems:
- Some confusion will probably be experienced, especially in casinos
- Many rapid things are happening all at once: roulette, craps, slots noises, and flashing lights, plus the general chit-chatting and noise, etc.
- Now, more than ever, we need to give people as many options with regard to various environments. This should apply to services as well
The Novak Card Reader
This thoughtful invention might be the next best thing when it comes to accessible casino games.
The Novak Card Reader is an invention that could help many people.
Sadly, its author is unknown, as the project was submitted on an internet platform meant to help inventors.
How does it work?
This card reader has a small scanner that can read the card (colour, suite, number) and then transmit that information to the wearer through built-in audio.
Glasses for the Colourblind
Although not taken into consideration as a visual impairment in the UK, colour blindness is a visual disability that can have a massive impact on the lives of people.
But, before you get excited about glasses that restore colour to vision, you should know that they don’t work for every colour-blind player.
- Inherited colour blindness has no cure, even today
- However, for some colour blind players with milder forms of red-green colourblindness, there are specially designed glasses that can improve the contrast between the colours!
If you want to try them, remember this!
Any colour blind gambler with milder forms could benefit from the effects of these glasses. We recommend you discuss this with your ophthalmologist first.
Should UKGC policies be updated?
Yes it should, as any other policy that needs to be developed.
We shouldn’t abstain from talking about subjects like casino abuse, legally blind gamblers, colour blind players, and more in an all British casino, and neither should UKGC.
The current state of affairs
Momentarily, there aren’t many things to be said about blind players or visually impaired players.
This is so because UKGC, as well as many other institutions, aren’t actively making any changes for this community.
In case the UKGC changes its regulations to accommodate visually impaired people, CasinoAlpha will further inform you.
Do you know someone struggling with this experience? Perhaps even yourself?
We want to be of service to UK gamblers looking for the best online casinos and their services. Since this is a delicate situation and the legal framework is flimsy, let us know your opinion and experience in the comments. We’ll be sure to update our text accordingly.