OPINION: More than one million self-exclusion gambling requests submitted last year

  • More than 1.1 million self requests in 2016, 330,000 more than in 2015
  • A case for saying that the industry is doing its job and protecting players

As any online gambler will tell you, self-exclusion requests are a necessary part of the industry. While most gamblers enjoy their preferred pastime, be it online poker, baccarat or slots, a minority are at risk of getting in over their heads.

Gamble aware, when the fun stops, stop

As the British gambling awareness slogan goes, “When the fun stops, stop”. For players worried that their gambling could be spiralling out of control, the simplest way to rein it in is by initiating a voluntary self-exclusion agreement. This effectively bars online casinos and other betting sites from allowing the customer to play at their own behest.

But how common are such self-exclusion requests? Put it this way, more 1 million of them were filed last year. That’s an astonishing figure which is a rise of 50% on the year before.

The industry is doing its job

The significant increase in these requests may at first seem cause for alarm, but there is a case for saying that it’s evidence of the industry’s self-policing policy working.

According to figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request by The Sun, more than 1.1 million self-exclusions were made last year, 330,000 more than in 2015 and twice as many as the year before. Paddy Power alone fielded 200,000 such requests.

Gambling Commission spokesman Ben Glass was swift to herald this as evidence of the seriousness with which operators take their responsibilities, stating: “Self-exclusion is an important tool for those people that recognise they have a problem with gambling. We require operators to take all reasonable steps to prevent those that have decided to self-exclude from gambling and receiving marketing material.”

Identify behaviour early

When anyone with an addictive personality is intent on getting their fix, be it drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other vice, they won’t listen to the well-meaning advice of anyone – including themselves. Predictably, there have been numerous incidents of gambling addicts setting self-exclusion limits before later seeking to circumvent these. In fact, The Sun reports, over 300,000 cases arose last year in which that exact scenario occurred.

“We encourage everyone to be open and to talk about their gambling habits and to set personal limits for themselves. These things help to identify any risky behaviour before it develops into a serious problem.”
Gamble­Aware’s Marc Etches

While there is undoubtedly evidence that some gamblers have let their hobby spiral out of control, the widespread use of self-exclusion requests is encouraging. The more vigorously the industry enforces these, the more respect it will gain from focus groups, players and media alike.

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Casinopedia

Our Verdict

Any rise in figures can, at first glance, catch you off guard. But this latest news can only be seen as good news. Self-exclusion is a vital tool in dealing with problem gambling, being as an effective method as any in stopping you playing. The fact that it is rising shows that a) the industry is taking the problem seriously and offering an effective self-exclusion programme, and b) that players too are focusing more on their gambling – both on-and offline. Remember, self-exclusion on its own may not always be enough in terms of helping any problems you may have when gambling, but it can certainly support you.

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