From the very beginnings of even thinking about the Global Self-Exclusion Initiative, we were aware that such an ambitious goal would be difficult to reach, and we will not be able to do it on our own.
We cannot just create a global self-exclusion system by ourselves and hope for the best. To reach the goal of better protecting vulnerable players, we will need to cooperate with other online gambling stakeholders to meet at least these two conditions:
To meet the second condition, there is a question that needs to be answered first. Do leading stakeholders in the gambling industry see the potential in a global self-exclusion scheme? And if they do not, how can we help them see it? What questions might they have and how can we address their fears, comments, and suggestions?
To answer questions like these, I decided to write regular blog posts that document the process and keep the initiative's supporters and other interested parties updated. These posts will also give me a chance to publicly answer any important questions and address feedback I get along the way.
I would like to use this blog to show the path that was chosen, the steps that were taken, the actions that were made, and – most importantly – the results and conclusions that were reached.
Once a month, I will summarize the initiative's progress, how I communicated with industry stakeholders, and what has happened in general.
Without further ado, let's get started with the first blog post dedicated to the Self-Exclusion Initiative's launch and the weeks that followed.
My colleagues and I have put a lot of effort to the Global Self-Exclusion Initiative and this website, fine-tuning details to maximize our chances of succeeding. We were nervous to hear what the gambling world has to say about it, so we were naturally quite relieved (and also amazed) to see the number of positive reactions we have gotten after the official launch.
People started to reach out to me, expressing support and offering help. This was a clear sign to me that we were doing the right thing. Sometimes, people were surprised to learn about the significant gap that exists between currently available self-exclusion options and the global solution we are proposing.
Of course, there were critical remarks and concerns as well, mostly about the technical feasibility, data protection, and the details of the process of participating in the scheme. People asked how it would work, how we would make it global, etc.
And I understand why that is. Discussions about gambling regulations, responsible gambling rules, player protection, and other important topics are most commonly held on the level of individual countries or operators, not with the entire world in mind. This is one of the challenges we will have to overcome one way or another.
Talking about rules and regulations, we took a look at 10 of the world's most important online gambling regulators and their approach to self-exclusion regulations. I was curious about this myself, and I knew that I would have to learn about these regulations sooner or later anyway. And because I could not find a nice, up-to-date summary of self-exclusion regulations around the world, we decided to put together such article ourselves. You can find it here.
When researching the topic, we soon realized that self-exclusion standards are highly diverse amongst the world's gambling regulators. Differences in terms of self-exclusion duration, revocability, and the details of the self-exclusion process clearly show that the online gambling market lacks global common standards and best practices.
Our initiative aims to change that by closely cooperating with leading stakeholders in its planned future phases. But first, we need to see if they see the potential benefits of such a project.
To find out what top regulators think about it, I approached all 10 regulators analyzed in the above-mentioned article and asked for their official feedback or statement. Within a three-week timeframe, I only received reactions from Great Britain's Gambling Commission and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.
While waiting for their answers, I also reached out to organizations that aggregate regulatory authorities of certain regions (GREF, NAGRA, etc.) and I am expecting to receive feedback from one of their boards in the upcoming weeks. Other organizations did not react in any way so far, and I was unable to find a way to contact the Spanish regulator.
The Gambling Commission told me that they do not issue statements about such proposals and referred me to GAMSTOP for feedback. I also reached out to GamCare for their feedback, who commented that they might see the potential benefits of having such global scheme, but are not able get involved at this point due to being focused solely on the British market.
I suppose it is understandable that the primary focus of these institutions is on their own jurisdiction and players within it. Now I know that it might be difficult to get the attention of regulators and appreciate the reaction from the aforementioned British organizations. However, ignoring the outside space and the fact that players from their jurisdiction can be exposed to dangers of circumventing strict local protective measures by playing on foreign websites certainly does not help make gambling a safer activity on a global level. Maybe they will reevaluate their decision in later stages of the initiative…
Feedback from Alderney was quite specific, and I would say also realistic in the matter of current challenges of online gambling. They find a global self-exclusion scheme to be an interesting concept, which "if implemented successfully could add further protection to players worldwide."
They also added that they are keen to learn about how the project develops and that they realize there will be challenges in relation to "customer experience, costs, data security and preventing abuse and fraudulent use of such a tool." These definitely are valid concerns, and we definitely plan to address them in later stages of the project.
I was definitely happy to see encouraging reactions at least from some of the contacted subjects. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that all of these institutions have a lot on their shoulders, and I can only imagine that an official reaction to our initiative might not be their highest priority. That said, I am expecting more reactions to come in the upcoming weeks – I will surely update you about those in the next blog post.
For the month of May, I will keep doing my best in gathering feedback from world's regulators, gambling trade associations, and other stakeholders, to see what they have to say about our ambitions and what we can learn from it.