The Pros and Cons of Self-Exclusion

Stop gambling addiction concept. Slot machine with text STOP

Self-exclusion, the right to ban yourself from gambling, is a hot topic on the minds of many gaming companies.

Regulations are rolling out across the globe that enable consumers to ban themselves from gambling. But frustration is growing among gaming operators with legislation placing the responsibility with them to carry out necessary checks to ensure that self-exclusion remains effective.

Those against self-exclusion

In Spain, operators say that they are finding the cost of self-exclusion programs prohibitive and that, even with a system in place, some customers still manage to find a way around it. One industry expert, Eduardo Antoja, said: “If [a customer] presents a fake ID card and it doesn’t get spotted, the police will sue the operator and not prosecute the cardholder, with punishments ranging from fines of €6,000 ($7,000 / £5250) up to enforced closure.” There are also reports in the country that some self-excluded players attempt to re-enter arcades to intentionally impose fines on operators.

In Canada, Ontario’s regulators are now operating a facial recognition system to enforce self-exclusion after numerous self-excluded players were allowed to re-enter casinos using the previous system. But complaints remain: For example, players have to attend casinos in order to self-exclude, and questions are being asked over the lack of requirement to show government ID in order to enter a casino.

The same issues are echoed in Australia. In a recent case, a young woman self-excluded herself, only to be allowed to continue feeding her addiction. Cases such as this are leading experts to speak up on the topic, saying that self-exclusion systems are merely a method of gaming companies saying they are doing something to combat a growing problem, but that they do not actually get to the real source of the problem.

Those for self-exclusion

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is expanding its self-exclusion operation. Having successfully implemented self-exclusion with all remote gaming operators based in the country, they are now working on a unified system that will allow gamers to exclude themselves from all Maltese remote gambling operators in one go. The MGA said in a statement: “The protection of players is at the heart of the MGA’s regulatory agenda, and this project further underlines our resolve to ensure that players have the necessary tools to engage in gaming services responsibly. Over the years, we have witnessed efforts from gaming operators to implement various responsible gaming measures, and thus we strongly believe that the unified self-exclusion system will be well received by the industry and consumers alike.” The MGA has also said it is weighing the possibility of rolling out the unified system to other territories.

Self-exclusion appears to be growing in popularity in the UK, too, with the numbers of self-excluded gamblers growing to 1,309,740 from 612,427 in just 18 months. There is no unified system in the UK, so it is possible that one person might need to complete multiple forms to opt in, which can be off-putting. It also appears that users are benefitting from self-exclusion for land-based gambling; however, online gambling grew exponentially in the same period, leading some to believe that people are merely transferring from land-based to online gambling instead.

The system does appear to be effective for land-based gambling in the UK, so it may be that the country’s government looks to Malta’s new system to roll out self-exclusion online there, too, if it is successful.

A good result

Whatever the argument, conversations around the misuse of betting and the constraints put in place for vulnerable people such as a drop in FOBTs are putting a focus back on the gambling market in a way that hasn’t been seen in a while. Whether the operators like the spotlight is another question altogether.

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