Self-Exclusion – What’s the Conclusion?

Before

As we continue to strive to help people to manage when their gambling is becoming out of control, I wonder how we could improve self-exclusion, what’s the conclusion that could work more effectively.

Historically, when self-excluding from a street bookmaker you would typically have to go to a betting shop armed with passport photo’s. Far from ideal and not cheap at the best of times as each place required 2 of them!! Then, if lucky, you may have been able to self exclude from up to 7 bookies within each company. That varied depending on each companies policy and would usually be less. You would need to do this for each and every different company you used proving tiresome, humiliating and expensive and risky.

Expensive and time consuming, this is also typically extremely embarrassing for someone struggling to control their gambling behaviour. Subsequently it can often be a barrier to taking that hugely important step. Having to go into gambling establishments puts problem gamblers in vulnerable situations where they feel out of control,  furthering the risk of gambling problematically. In recent years we have seen some really good improvement in relation to making self-exclusion easier for problematic gamblers.

Then

In February 2015 the UK Gambling Commission published revised License Conditions & Codes of Practise (LCCP). The primary purpose of the revision was to strengthen social responsibility.

The LCCP now requires the UK licensed operators to offer the customer the option to self-exclude from gambling of the same type from more than one operator at the same time from one point of contact. In essence, a person requesting to self-exclude from say Paddy Power must be offered the option to self-exclude from Ladbrokes, Coral and so on. This must be at the same time and place, without having to go into these other shops within the same area to fill out multiple self-exclusion requests.

The self-exclusion conditions remain same. The minimum term is 6 months, the person must fill out a request application and agree to the terms & conditions. They must also provide a passport photo and photo ID which must be verified.

How do other countries support problem gamblers?

If we look at other countries, modes of and routes to self exclusion are often similar.  Individuals struggling with their gambling behaviour make the highest amount self-exclusions. Gambling venues and establishments initiate a much smaller number. Some countries allow self-exclusion via a third party or by the Police and far less commonly for some (like Singapore),  family exclusion is also an option.

We have no fixed penalty in place for either the gambling provider or the patron if self-exclusion is  breached, in the UK today. Queensland have a legal obligation in place for gambling providers to provide support to people who present to self-exclude. They have to follow through with the exclusion process and to actively enforce exclusion procedures with excluded customers. Key features of this legal obligation; clients can choose to exclude from the entire venue or from gaming machine areas only, these self-exclusions must be made in locality. The Government provide standard forms and gambling venues must give information on at least one gambling counselling service. Gambling establishments cannot distribute promotional or advertising material to customers once self-excluded.

Staying with Queensland, in 2014 you could be penalised 40 penalty points for breaching your gambling self-exclusion. At that time, one penalty has a value of AU$110, which in today’s GB pound is equivalent to about £60. More usually, clients were just asked to leave or receiving verbal or written warnings. Penalties of 250 points  could be applied if establishments did not take reasonable steps to stop the excluded person from entering or remaining in the vicinity they were excluded from. These points could be applied to both licencees and their employees alike. That equates to a whopping £15,000 and a huge incentive to uphold self-exclusion agreements effectively. Very costly if multiple breaches occur.

Now

It’s now 4 years since the UK Gambling Commission published their revised LLCP and this is finally all up and running. The late achievers,  the online gambling providers! The enormity and complexity of the task in hand created some significant delays to the original completion date. A very lucrative delay for those companies and who they pay taxes to!! No limit to the various financial and emotional costs for their customers and families.  Gamstop, the online one point of contact, finally came into effect in spring 2018 and by the end of last year had a good uptake of online gambling providers on board. The bookmakers, amusement arcades and casino’s are also pretty much it on target.

Do you want to self-exclude or want more info?

Below are some great current links  for more info or to self exclude:

Online multi-exclusion-click on this link  https://www.gamstop.co.uk/

Casino multi-exclusion- for more info click on this link http://www.nationalcasinoforum.co.uk/voluntary-self-exclusion-sense/

Bookmakers multi-exclusion-for more info click on  https://self-exclusion.co.uk

Amusements multi-exclusion- for more info click on this link  https://bacta.org.uk/self-exclusion/

Bingo self-exclusion-for more info click this link  https://www.bingo-association.co.uk/site/bing/templates/selfexclusion.aspx?pageid=181&cc=gb

So what’s the conclusion?

There is no question self-exclusion has proven to be an extremely effective intervention in addressing problematic gambling overall. However there are still various issues within the effective upholding of the system as it is. Thinking about how other countries try to implement this, can we learn anything? Would it help if we also imposed a financial penalty system for all parties involved if breaches occur? Could we make this an integral legal obligation of the self-exclusion contract in the UK? Currently we have a two way agreement with no real consequences for any party when the system fails. Would a penalty system work and is it fair? What are the implications of familial exclusion? Would that be effective if the problematic gambler doesn’t think their gambling is a problem and as such see no real need to change?

It’s universally accepted that the easier self-exclusion process for individuals addicted to gambling is proving more effective for their recovery. But then conversely the challenge of managing the exclusion process has become increasingly difficult for gambling providers to enforce, in itself that’s counter-productive to to those self-excluded. This is as a result of becoming more inundated with self-exclusion requests so what can we do to address that?

In today’s age of cutting edge technology, surely we can create a simple streamlined system that makes life easier for all involved in the self-exclusion process.

Let us know your thoughts.