What self-exclusion is and why it is important

About global SE

Self-exclusion is an important responsible gambling tool that allows players to gamble more safely and helps limit the negative effects of gambling on people’s lives.

In this article, we will cover how it works, why it matters, how it helps protect players, and why we believe a global self-exclusion system could help further improve player protection worldwide.

What is self-exclusion?

Self-exclusion is a responsible gambling feature available to people playing in casinos or partaking in other gambling activities that allows players to block themselves from gambling for a certain period of time.

Available durations can range from days all the way to several years, with many online casinos also offering an indefinite option.

Self-exclusion in an online casino usually only applies to that specific casino, which means that players are still able to play at other casino websites. However, some countries and online gambling regulators operate self-exclusion schemes with a wider scope, which allow players to self-exclude from all casinos licensed in a specific country or by a specific regulator at once.

There currently isn’t a global self-exclusion scheme – that’s what we are trying to change by this initiative. We think that allowing players to self-exclude from all online casinos at once would further increase player protection worldwide.

How does it work?

Players can usually self-exclude from an individual casino in one of two ways:

  1. Turning on self-exclusion by themselves, in the ‘responsible gambling’ section of the casino website. This usually involves choosing the desired duration of self-exclusion, but some casinos also ask about the reasons why the player wishes to use this feature.
  2. Messaging customer support via live chat or e-mail. Some casino websites don’t support a feature that would allow players to turn on self-exclusion themselves. Instead, they need to message customer support and ask them to turn on self-exclusion for them.

Probably the most important difference between these two approaches has to do with the time that passes between requesting self-exclusion and its actual start. The first one generally starts immediately, but the second option involves an inherent time delay – it takes time for a casino employee to receive the message and exclude the player from playing.

This can lead to issues, such as players requesting self-exclusion over e-mail and them losing their remaining balance by the time their self-exclusion actually starts. Our complaint resolution team has witnessed many cases caused by this time delay, which is why the first option – one that allows to turn on self-exclusion themselves, immediately – is superior.

National or regulator-wide self-exclusion schemes usually work similarly, but often involve filling out a more complicated form and more bureaucracy. Additionally, these schemes often also include an option for excluding your loved ones from playing if you are worried about their habits. The state might have the option to exclude players as well, such as unemployed people receiving welfare benefits.

Can you cancel self-exclusion prematurely?

Another important difference between self-exclusions at various casinos has to do with being able to cancel self-exclusion before the predetermined period of time passes. There are 3 distinct approaches to this:

  1. Some casinos do not allow players to cancel self-exclusion prematurely at all. They have to wait for their self-exclusion to run out, and only then will they be allowed to gamble again.
  2. Some casinos allow players to cancel self-exclusion prematurely but with a so-called cooling-off period. This means that players can ask for their self-exclusion to be canceled but have to wait a certain amount of time – usually ranging from days to weeks – before they are actually allowed to play again. This gives them time to reevaluate their decision.
  3. There are also some casinos that allow players to cancel self-exclusion immediately, but we believe this is not the right approach. Most reputable licensing authorities require casinos to use one of the first two approaches.

Why is self-exclusion important?

The importance of self-exclusion has a lot to do with reasons why players use it. While these can be very diverse, a considerable proportion of players resort to self-exclusion because they struggle to keep their problematic gambling habits under control.

They worry that if they are allowed to gamble, they will lose more money than they should, and self-exclusion allows them to put a stop to their unhealthy behavior, protecting their finances, relationships, and perhaps also their lives.

Gambling addiction is a very difficult enemy to beat. And while it is important to say that self-exclusion is not an effective cure for problem gambling by itself, it can definitely help addicted players limit the negative impact of gambling on their lives and perhaps also give them a chance to seek professional help.

How would global self-exclusion scheme help?

Overcoming gambling addiction requires major commitment and often also professional help, but self-exclusion can make the process at least a bit easier and more effective.

However, perhaps the most crucial issue with currently available self-exclusion systems is that they can be circumvented. Player self-excluded at an individual casino can easily find another one and start playing there. National schemes are more effective, but even those can be circumvented by finding a foreign casino willing to allow the player to gamble.

An addict is very likely to feel strong urges to gamble during recovery. These can result in looking for any way to gamble, even if it means playing at an unlicensed casino. If self-exclusion was truly global and affected basically all available online casinos, it would make the system much, much more difficult to circumvent.

This would result in a safer online gambling world for everyone, but particularly for vulnerable players that struggle with gambling addiction. Players’ lives matter, and we believe that a global self-exclusion system would help protect them more, which is why we decided to launch this initiative and aspire to turn our vision into reality.