Benefits and Possible Risks of the Global Self-Exclusion System

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Problem gambling has long been one of the biggest issues plaguing the gambling market. Despite regulators' and operators' best efforts, the various sustainable gambling tools they have implemented have proven inadequate in combating addiction effectively due to their localized nature. Clearly, a global solution is needed.

The Global Self-Exclusion Initiative seeks to answer this need. But its creation will invariably be a long and arduous process, impossible to achieve without the help of multiple subjects. However, should it succeed, the effort would undoubtedly bear its fruits.

This article demonstrates the possible benefits and risks of a global self-exclusion system (GSE) by pointing out insufficiencies of the current self-exclusion solutions. For each insufficiency, we discuss how a global self-exclusion system (GSE) would address it, and any potential issues we may encounter in its creation.

It is divided into several parts, corresponding to individual subjects the GSE would affect:

  1. Players
  2. Online operators and regulators
  3. Problem gambling help organizations
  4. General Public

1. Insufficiencies of current self-exclusion solutions related to players

As was already established, players lie at the heart of the issues GSE seeks to resolve. This part of the article addresses these issues, elaborates how the GSE could solve them, and discusses any potential issues.

a) Unreliability of current self-exclusion systems

The biggest problem of current self-exclusion systems (single operator and multi-operator alike) is that excluded players can easily navigate around them and gamble elsewhere, potentially with operators without a local license or in illegal venues.

BENEFIT: A global self-exclusion system could solve this issue by significantly limiting the venues self-excluded players have for inadvisable and potentially illicit gambling. If the GSE becomes widely accepted, it could create an environment where online casinos feel pressure to become part of the system, further bolstering its influence and security. Furthermore, the GSE can help identify potential risks in the market.

RISK: However, one issue that the system is likely to encounter is that it will not be able to safeguard the entirety of the market. No matter how efficient the system is, we cannot guarantee the solution will be 100% bulletproof, as it is unrealistic to expect there will be no online gambling black markets in the future.

Realistically speaking, we can expect to see some operators begin specifically targeting players excluded via the GSE system. Nevertheless, we can expect an improvement to the current situation, as the illegal market will shrink and become more easily identifiable, making combating it much more straightforward.

b) Variety of local regulations

One of the problems with each casino and regulation abiding by its own set of rules is that some may be inadequate and allow an excluded player to bypass them easily. In contrast, others may be so strict in their regulations that a player may feel intimidated, making them unwilling to go through with their self-exclusion. This is particularly common in jurisdictions where the self-exclusion lasts a very long time or is irrevocable.

BENEFIT: The solution to this issue would be to set up international self-exclusion standards to unify the market in its available tools. Based on rigorous research created in collaboration with capable professionals, these recommendations would help determine the appropriate self-exclusion time and revocability options. Following the successful application of these features within the GSE system, they can serve as the best practice inspiration for regulators and operators looking to improve their responsible gambling options.

RISK: However, we cannot guarantee our solutions will be the best across the board. The cultural and historical backgrounds of different countries significantly influence local markets, gambling populations and warrant consideration. Nevertheless, we are confident we can provide a functional baseline from which others can take inspiration.

c) Post-exclusion marketing communication

Current blocking of post-exclusion marketing is ineffective in part because players can register with many casinos across multiple jurisdictions, which have no way of communicating with each other. Meaning, in single operator self-exclusion, should a player self-exclude, the remaining gambling providers will continue targeting them with their marketing promotions, potentially creating an irresistible urge to gamble. Multi-operator schemes address this issue but are limited to a single jurisdiction, which prevents them from being completely foolproof.

BENEFIT: We can mitigate the issue by creating a database for gambling providers and regulators to access and verify their marketing lists. In doing so, we will provide better coverage for blocking post-exclusion marketing.

RISK: However, this system could be abused by operators and companies seeking to market to these self-excluded players. For that reason, it will be necessary to secure the system and create a neutral body to govern it.

d) No integration with problem gambling help organizations

Self-exclusion often fails to prevent problem gambling because it is inherently insufficient. Latent gambling addicts often need more than a break from the activity to cope with their issues. They need professional help.

Unfortunately, only a handful of regulations make a point of supplying the self-excludee with comprehensive information regarding problem gambling prevention and treatment. None offer the option to be contacted by a certified professional. The lack of these options is unfortunate, as studies have shown that this combination of self-exclusion and proactive preventative action is the most effective in stopping future gambling relapses.

BENEFIT: Our solution is to supply every self-excluding player with additional information on problem gambling, its prevention, and treatment, and offer them the option of being contacted by a professional.

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2. Insufficiencies of current self-exclusion solutions related to operators and regulators

As a global system, the GSE will collaborate with the world's gambling authorities and gambling providers. However, we understand that many of these entities may be wary of such a tool's implications for them. Some possible concerns are:

  • RISK: Integrating the GSE and subsequent player verification with the database may require additional investment in both time and funds. Some verification issues may also arise down the line, which could prove to be problematic.
  • RISK: Some operators may experience a significant drop in revenue gained from problem gamblers.
  • RISK: It may still be difficult to determine who to blame for players' failed self-exclusions, in situations where an online casino accepts an excluded gambler (be it knowingly or unknowingly).

Besides these concerns, we have identified the most significant pain points operators and regulators experience now. Below, you will find brief explanations of these problems, how the GSE can help solve them, and any potential issues that may arise further down the line.

a) Inadequate protection from single operator self-exclusions

Operators who unknowingly accept a self-excluded player commonly encounter the problem that these players cause more trouble than they are worth. Not only do some of them abuse their self-excludee status whenever gambling does not go their way, but their presence alone undermines the perceived safety and sustainability of online operators and the industry as a whole, too. Not to mention the contribution these players make towards the issue of growing gambling harm.

BENEFIT: The GSE can help solve the issue by providing operators with an integrated matching system of self-excluded players, which will not allow players with a match to register on their platform.

b) Difficulty preventing illegal off-shore gambling

Despite their efforts, regulators often struggle with ensuring their players limit their gambling only to their local jurisdiction. In practice, the issue is that a player with free internet access can essentially gamble anywhere they choose and always find a casino that will let them play. This fact has negative influences that reach beyond the limits of the country in question, however. Such cases shine a bad light on the entirety of gambling, promoting dismissive attitudes from the general public at large, and serving to increase the demand for stricter gambling regulations.

BENEFIT: Thanks to its nature, the GSE can offer help by offering a level of protection beyond just the state borders, enabling regulators to offer their players a higher security standard.

RISK: However, regulators may dislike the idea of referring their protectees to a system run by an external organization they do not have 100% control over.

c) Players abusing their self-exclusion status

As mentioned above, there is an issue with players abusing the current self-exclusion systems. For instance, a player can self-exclude themselves using GamStop, register with a CuraƧao-licensed operator, and following a significant loss, complain to the casino that it should have never let them play in the first place.

In several historical cases, such players managed to persuade banks to do a chargeback. And in cases where they failed to get their money back, they badmouth the casino in question, damaging its reputation in the process.

BENEFIT: Using the GSE, operators and regulators can prevent a portion of such cases from happening. A global system can significantly lower the risk of previously excluded players gambling in new online casinos, leading to fewer instances of needless chargebacks and attacks on the operators' and regulators' integrity.

3. Insufficiencies of current self-exclusion solutions related to gambling addiction help organizations

Self-exclusions have been time and time again proven to be an inadequate solution to the question of problem gambling. While they certainly help, even in their currently imperfect form, they need to be supplemented with a therapy of some kind to be effective and help addicted players to overcome their vices. Following are some of the issues facing problem gambling help organizations and how the GSE can help solve them.

a) Players find ways to gamble despite their self-exclusion

The issue with many self-exclusion schemes is that players often find ways to gamble despite their self-exclusion. They can do so knowingly or, in cases of single-operator self-exclusion, even inadvertently. Although this behavior is seen across the gambling sphere, it frequently manifests in markets with outdated or weak regulations. Gamblers such as these tend to gravitate to off-shore casinos above all else.

BENEFIT: However, the GSE carries the added benefit of a nearly guaranteed decrease in self-excluded players slipping through the system's cracks. Fewer problem gamblers able to continue playing despite their self-exclusion means fewer destroyed lives by gambling addiction.

b) Self-exclusion is an insufficient "cure" for problem gambling

Outside of cases where a player self-excludes out of strictly preventative measure, it can be assumed most problem gamblers self-exclude in a moment of clarity when they have realized they have a problem. However, the vice of addiction is often stronger than this realization.

Thus, the problem with doing nothing more than cutting a person off from gambling is that their problematic behavior has not been cured once they are allowed to return to the activity. Self-exclusion alone only treats the symptom, not the underlying problem.

BENEFIT: The GSE seeks to address the issue by cooperating more closely with problem gambling help organizations. Gamblers registering for the global self-exclusion scheme will be given the option of requesting that a professional contacts them about their problem. Furthermore, we intend on providing individuals with the additional option of selecting the help organization of their choice, where they wish to undergo consultations and treatment.

c) Current regulation does not always reflect problem gambling research

Regardless of who or what you would like to blame, be it legislative rigidity or regulators' disinterest, the gambling industry faces the problem that the latest research discoveries are not reflected in the current gambling regulation. So sometimes, the legislation may be ineffective from a player or therapeutical standpoint.

BENEFIT: This issue can be addressed easily, at least within the GSE, as it would stem from strictly data-driven insights and comprehensive consultations with various industry professionals. Should we succeed in launching the global self-exclusion system, we will create comprehensive international self-exclusion standards for the many multi-operator and single operator schemes to take advantage of.

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4. Insufficiencies of current self-exclusion solutions related to the general public

Regardless of where you are in the world, the chances are that the vast majority of the general public views gambling as an overwhelmingly negative activity. They hear the horror stories concerning problem gambling and conclude that regulation has failed the people it was meant to protect. That casino operators only wish to financially brutalize their customers.

BENEFIT: Naturally, we know this is not the case. But that fact needs to be communicated better. The GSE could help rebuild the lost faith in the gambling industry and show people that we have their best interests in mind by preventing more of these problem gambling horror stories from coming true.

In closing, we believe that some gambling regulations are terribly behind the times and need to be revised to harmonize with their regional and even global counterparts. Things need to change. But we can only make these changes if we work together and collaborate in good faith.

We hope this article has given you a better idea of the current situation and our vision of improving it, and that perhaps now you feel inclined to join our cause.