Managing self-excluded players is a problem that gambling operators continue to struggle with, both in the U.S. and abroad. With iovation alone receiving over 200,000 reports of player self-exclusion from our customers in 2018 and operators being levied record fines for non-compliance, the problem does not appear to be going away anytime soon.

For those unfamiliar with self-exclusion or needing a refresher, it generally refers to regulations aimed at addressing problem gambling. Where there are self-exclusion policies, a person who believes they suffer from a gambling problem can voluntarily request their name be added to a self-exclusion list. That person is then barred from all participating casinos within the self-exclusion coverage area and if an operator either knowingly or unknowingly allows that player to gamble, they could face penalties.

In 2018, we saw record fines levied against operators for responsible gaming violations in Europe. In the UK alone, operators paid a record £19.6m in penalties for failing to protect problem gamblers and stop money laundering. On a smaller scale, but just as reputationally damaging, we’ve seen two recent cases of fines being levied in New Jersey. In both of these instances the state of New Jersey uncovered the violations, showing a strong willingness by regulators for oversight. As new states legalize online gambling, it’s more important than ever that operators collaborate to self-regulate by proactively managing player self-exclusion. But how do you accomplish this?

Self-Exclusion Evasion Tactics

It can be difficult to manage legitimate problem gamblers who try to access different sites within a gambling operator’s system, set up new accounts using falsified account details and even change payment methods. For example using a spouse’s personal data and credit card. Another complication is fraudulent self-exclusion claims. This is a tool often used by fraudsters who come in, set up a new account using a stolen credit card, deposit funds using that card and then self-exclude before the chargeback hits, making it more difficult for operators to pursue them.

To demonstrate the scope of the problem, we analyzed self-exclusion reports from our network of more than 100 gambling operators and platform providers throughout 2018 in our recently released Gambling Industry Report. In that period, we saw 223,000 reports of self-exclusion. Those 223,000 reports were linked to 795,000 devices. Meaning that each report was linked on average with three to four devices. Further, we saw nearly a million attempts to access a site in our operator network by devices associated with self-exclusion, an average of four attempts per report of self-exclusion. Having multiple devices linked to a self-excluded account could point to a self-excluded player trying to use another device to set up a new account (per the spouse example above) or more problematic a fraud ring. Whether it’s a problem gambler or fraudster, those that self-exclude are not always walking away.

Device Bridges the Evasion Intelligence Gap

Our recent findings highlight the importance of device intelligence and collaboration in managing the issue. With device intelligence, the player’s device becomes a unique digital identifier that can flag self-excluded players even if they attempt to set up a new account using falsified personal data. Using a consortium approach allows operators to maximize the value of this digital fingerprint. As soon as a player excludes, an operator can report it to the network, associating that report with the device and account. Through associations, operators can then tie devices to accounts, and even to other devices, providing a clearer picture of what devices a player is using to access their accounts. Operators can then be alerted if that player attempts to set up a new account, even if they’ve never seen that device or player before.

This is a critical time for operators looking to launch in the U.S. sports betting market. Operators have the opportunity to proactively manage self-excluded players and uphold responsible gaming practices. To learn more about player self-exclusion, download our solution brief, Identifying Self-Excluded Players in Real Time.