Online Gambling Player Self-Exclusion

It is no secret that gambling can easily become an addiction. While it may seem to many that casinos and other gaming establishments simply want to make as much money as possible even if it means exploiting someone's weakness, this is not actually the case. In fact, most online gaming sites have a very specific tool in place to try and help players that have self-identified as having a gambling problem. Obviously, there is only so much the casinos themselves can do about stopping chronic gamblers from gambling, but they do have tools in place to help those that genuinely want the help. Here is an overview of online gambling player self-exclusion; what it is, how it is used and how it does and does not help.

What is Online Gambling Player Self-Exclusion?

Online gambling player self-exclusion has a number of different tiers, forms, and means depending on the site, but they all work roughly the same way. While gambling can be a form of addiction, just like all addictions, not all gambling problems are equal. Some people mostly gamble very responsibly but may encounter a situation in which they feel they are starting to lose control. Other gamblers know they have a gambling problem and feel helpless to stop it. Gambling in and of itself creates a sort of "high," particularly when a player is winning. Just like any other type of drug such as alcohol or even opioids, millions of people are able to use them responsibly while others will use them recklessly and to their own detriment. Even some people that generally use substances responsibly may encounter a life situation which causes them to lose control and abuse certain substances. The same can also be true of gambling.

There are always going to be certain times when even a responsible player is more vulnerable to behaving irresponsibly. These can include a huge win followed by a long string of losses or even when they are dealing with issues in their personal life and are using gambling as a form of escape. Some players will recognize when their gambling is getting out of control and they can request a self-induced ban from the site. This is what is known as self-exclusion.

There are different types of self-exclusion. One is a "cooling off" period that can be set by the player for anywhere from 7 days to several months. During this "cooling off" period, the casino will block the player from the platform and will do their best to not send any promotional offers or updates. Many online gaming operations host a number of different platforms, so self-exclusion from one platform will generally carry over to all other platforms. In addition, most platforms also attempt to do their due diligence to ensure the player cannot simply create a new account or find other ways around their own self-exclusion ban. Once a player has self-excluded, their ban is also irrevocable for the entire time period they chose. For instance, if they chose a 3-month ban, they cannot go back and change it to a 7-day ban.

During this time, their player account is also frozen, so they are also not eligible to make any withdrawals. Once their chosen cooling off period is completed, their account is reinstated and they can either resume gameplay or they can cash out their account entirely.

Online Gambling Permanent Self-Exclusion

Contrary to popular opinion, gambling sites themselves attempt to help people who use gambling responsibly to have a good time and to deter people from using their sites recklessly. In addition to instituting a temporary self-exclusion ban for a limited amount of time, players are also eligible to permanently self-exclude themselves from most sites. Just like a temporary self-exclusion, once a player permanently self-excludes themselves, the ban is irrevocable. In addition, most sites will also continue to do their due diligence to ensure the player cannot simply create another account or use a different platform.

Some online gaming platforms also operate real-world casinos and gaming establishments. When a player self-excludes from an online platform of a business that also operates real-world casinos, the player is also generally banned from all properties that business operates, including virtual and real-world gaming establishments.

Problems with Online Gambling Self-Exclusion

Many, if not most, responsible gaming platforms will do their best to assist customers struggling with gambling issues, there are still a number of issues with even the most stringent self-exclusion programs. To begin with, there are roughly 2,200 registered gambling platforms, not to mention an untold number of unregistered platforms. Self-excluding on one platform doesn't exclude the player from simply registering on an entirely different platform and continuing their reckless behavior.

In addition, some platforms are not as diligent about canceling promotional material distribution during a cooling off period, which doesn't help the individual fight the urge to gamble during their self-induced exclusion period. Other platforms don't exclude the player from simply creating a new account and carrying right on as usual. There are a number of programs that a player can download for various devices that will block all gambling platforms on their device but even those have limitations. For instance, unlike a self-exclusion ban from a platform that is enforced by the platform itself, most software that blocks gambling sites can be turned on and off by the user.

Self-Exclusion is not a Permanent Solution

While self-exclusion tools can help players whose behavior is just getting a bit out of hand, they aren't generally a solution in and of themselves for chronic gamblers. There are just too many other ways of indulging their habits. Self-exclusion tools can certainly help, but ultimately chronic gamblers or individuals with a serious gambling issue are going to need a great deal more help than simply using the available self-exclusion tools on the platform itself. Particularly when not all self-exclusion tools are as stringent as others.

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