Insight: How self-exclusion is being used by betting shop punters

Insight: How self-exclusion is being used by betting shop punters

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Peter Craske of the Association of British Bookmakers explains how the national self exclusion scheme is progressing

The number of new self-exclusions in the betting sector between October 2014 and September 2015 totalled 29,946. That is nearly 30,000 applications from betting shop customers who asked bookmakers to prevent them from gambling, a practice seen by some as a key tool in the fight against problem gambling.

Or is it? While this is actually a drop by 3.3 per cent over the previous year and breaches of self-exclusions and the number of individuals who cancelled their self-exclusion after the minimum exclusion period also fell, how accurate are those figures?

One of the criticisms about self-exclusion is that if someone banned themselves from one bookmakers, they could easily visit the next gambling establishment, be it betting shop, arcade or even casino, and continue gambling. However since April the land-based sector in the UK has introduced a national self exclusion scheme, whereby punters concerned with their gambling can fill in a single form to be excluded from all the betting shops in their area.

Despite the multitude of data protection and operational problems such a scheme created, things have been going well according to Peter Craske of the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) which helps run it.

He told “Although the scheme formally began in April, in fact it has been running since the pilot last summer in Glasgow, in London since December and across the country since the beginning of March. Over that time, there are over 1,200 people who have chosen to exclude under this system, out of our eight million customers.”

Craske said that while the scheme also had great social responsibility implications, it would also help paint a more accurate picture of how self-exclusion is being used in the UK.

He explained: “One of the benefits of the new system is that it should provide a more accurate figure for the total number of people self-excluding. Previously, one person excluding from 10 different shops would be recorded as ten different exclusions, whereas now, they will be counted as one person.”

This would mean that the 29,946 new self exclusions recorded by the Gambling Commission might actually be generated by a fraction of the number.

Craske said the initial feedback from those using the scheme is positive. “Customers have said that they appreciate being able to exclude from a number of shops with just one phone call, compared to having to go to each operator or shop, one after another.”

For a system this all-encompassing, it seems there will always be moments when the self-exclusion will not be 100% successful – there were 19,600 breaches reported in the Gambling Commission’s Industry Statistics – but Craske says bookmakers are striving to cut these down via co-operation.

He said: “If a customer breaches their self-exclusion, then it is flagged up to the other shops from which the customer has excluded from, so they are all aware and can be extra vigilant.

“We continually review our responsible gambling processes. We will be looking at learnings as the system beds in to inform next steps in this area.”

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