Self-Exclusion Should Be a Reliable Barrier to Gambling Harm

By | October 25, 2021

The gambling industry entertains people all over the world, but except for enjoyment, there’s another side of such time-spending activity – problem gambling. The self-exclusion is the most popular way to prevent gambling addiction. However, it has a lot of pitfalls and doubts from operators whether it is really effective, which is much discussed in gambling news and studies.

Šimon Vincze, Responsible Gambling Projects Manager at Casino Guru, provided his opinion on the self-exclusion option importance in the gambling industry.

The majority of countries with a regulated gambling market adopt the self-exclusion tool. Does it really help to fight against problem gambling?

The self-exclusion option is an industry standard in most regulated and even some unregulated markets. The main purpose of the tool is to be immediately effective in interrupting gambling activities. However, the details of the self-exclusion process are the important factors here, including the possibility of revoking self-inclusion, blocking marketing communication, and access to further problem gambling help. Self-exclusion is supposed to create a barrier to prevent further gambling harm, but the process of self-exclusion is implemented in different ways and some implementations are less effective than others.

The core aspect of creating this barrier is a relative certainty that the player will no longer be able to gamble online. This might not be realistically achievable in the current digital world due to the amount of easily accessible gambling opportunities. Furthermore, even if players manage to quit gambling for a certain amount of time, once this period is over, there is a high probability that they will continue with the same habits that led them to self-excluding.

There is quite solid scientific agreement that self-exclusion needs to be followed by some sort of treatment in order to achieve the desired change in gambling habits, especially for problem gamblers. However, there are other reasons why people self-exclude, so it’s not always possible to apply a generally effective approach to each situation.

There’s an opinion that self-exclusion doesn’t always help in cases of gambling addiction, and it’s just the removal of liability from the operator. How can you debate this opinion?

Liability in relation to preventing gambling harm and how it affects addiction has shifted over the years. The eyes of the regulators, the public, and practically everyone in the industry are now on operators. I am convinced that this is the right approach because you should act when you see bad things happening, especially, when you have the clear evidence and sufficient power to do so. Operators have the power to act and the possibility to collect evidence, so it has become a matter of compliance, ethics, and social responsibility.

The same applies to self-exclusion. There is a big difference between creating a minimal viable option for players to self-exclude themselves, and actually doing the best for your program to be reliable and effective. Adopting evidence-based practices or creating a strong link to problem-gambling-help organizations are good examples of going the extra mile.

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