Here’s some good news for the estimated eight million North Americans with a gambling addiction. Researchers from Harvard Medical School have developed new technology that can help identify people with gambling problems, so casino staffers can intervene before they lose all their money. 

How does the system work? Basically, it’s tied to the loyalty cards most casinos use today. Just like the cards we use in grocery stores, which track spending habits, casino loyalty cards help track betting habits, including which machines people use, how long they play and how much they bet.

Scientists have found that by using the data from loyalty cards, they can predict gambling addiction risk with at least 80-percent accuracy just by looking for risky betting patterns, like someone placing large bets late at night. Another giveaway of a gambling problem – chasing losses. That means betting more heavily in an attempt to recoup money they’ve lost.

The question is: Will casinos actually use this new warning system? They may have an incentive to intervene on gambling addicts because some groups want to pass new laws to hold casinos responsible for the behavior of addicts. It’s like how bar owners can be held partially liable if they serve drinks to people who later cause drunk-driving accidents.

Plus some online gambling sites are now using the new warning system after they found that problem gamblers are bad for business. The thinking is that if you get into trouble and lose all your money, the casinos lose a customer. But if casinos can help you manage your gambling habits, then you’ll be a customer for life.