Self-Exclusion for Italy as Gambling Soars

 Italy has announced a new self-exclusion policy to help vulnerable gamers.

The gambling industry is seeing record highs in Italy right now as revenues surpassed €1.3bn (£1.12bn, $1.61bn) in 2017 – a 30% increase.

The rapid success means that current regulations are being reviewed, alongside expanding social responsibility provisions. Italy’s lead regulatory body the Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS) has recently launched a unique self-exclusion registry.

This industry-wide program will allow vulnerable Italian consumers in the betting and gaming sectors to self-exclude themselves from gambling services and promotions. The policy is to be adopted by every licensed operator.

What is self-exclusion?

Self-exclusion means that any account created by the customer will be immediately closed by the provider, and any details held will be passed to the registry so that the customer cannot open a new account with any other services while under the exclusion.

In line with the safe-gaming policy, gamers can exclude themselves for a fixed period or indefinitely, whereas for vulnerable users gambling monitoring bodies can request a six-month exclusion for those most at risk.

The program forms part of the ‘Digital Gaming Observatory’ research foundation, supervised by the Politecnico di Milano (Milan Technology University) and is further supported by Italian state financial auditor SOGEI.

Will it work?

It follows successful schemes in places such as Scotland and England which have trialed the self-referral system. It is, however, only one of a number of tools a person can use to gain help for a gambling addiction.

Some critics suggest that self-refer means a person must first admit they have a problem, a major step in itself, but Italy hopes that by excluding those notified as the most vulnerable they can be one step ahead.

Prior to the launch of the self-exclusion registry, Italy’s Gaming Observatory had warned the AAMS of the growing popularity of betting services among younger consumers (18-25), primarily utilizing mobile gambling services.
Although significant messaging on safer gambling provisions was made available, it had little impact on younger audiences.

However, the addition of the unique self-exclusion register does make it easier to shut down access to gambling sites instead of requesting the shutdown of accounts for each individual site.

Why Italy?

Driven by regulatory changes that have made Italy incredibly successful at driving away illegal and unscrupulous business for cutting-edge technology in the gaming industry, the last 2 decades have taken the country from zero to here.

Fabio Schiavolin, CEO, Snai Group, explains to just why: “Over the last 20 years, the gaming market in Italy has undergone profound changes. The regulator has driven the transition from more traditional video games placed in bars and betting at horse tracks, to sport and horse racing fixed odds betting, bingo, online gaming, slot machines and VLTs. Through this evolution process, new players, including international ones, have entered the market and the steady distinction between offline and online gaming has increased.”

Italy has also been a runaway success story for Newcastle-based firm Tombola, the UK’s largest online bingo site. Moreover, the country has also seen a rise in the popularity of hand-held mobile games, particularly among younger audiences.

Firms licensed in Italy now have to conform to the self-exclusion policy. With social responsibility growing in the EU, this may not be the last provision such firms have to make.

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