New self-exclusion rules introduced for problem gamblers

New self-exclusion rules introduced for problem gamblers

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 Totally Gaming

As of yesterday (Wednesday) bingo halls, bookmakers and casinos in the UK now have to conduct local area risk assessments in an effort to clamp down on problem gambling.

Under the changes, which were announced by the Gambling Commission last year, the new rules will force betting premises to share information on gamblers who have “self-excluded” themselves by filling out a form in order to block going into betting shops.

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has said that the new scheme is “a significant advance on the previous scheme under which a customer had to enter into an individual agreement with each betting shop”.

The ABB added: “Now there is a freephone helpline with a one-stop process for self-exclusion. Given that there are over 8,000 betting shops in the UK, developing a one-stop shop for self-exclusion has involved significant investment on the part of betting shop operators. We will continue to refine and build on this programme over time.”

ABB chief executive Malcolm George told the BBC this morning: “Betting shops provide a very safe environment because there is human interaction. Our staff are trained to identify people that may be developing problems.

“We signpost people to charities that help to treat problem gambling. But there’s a range of different techniques that can be offered.

“The vast majority of care for problem gamblers is funded by the industry.”

George also insisted that “the evidence does not suggest” that fixed-odds betting terminals “are more problematic than any other form of gambling”.

He added: “Just over 10 years ago when they were introduced, gambling problem rates were about half a per cent of the population. The most recent statistics from the Gambling Commission suggest it remains about half a per cent.

“The machines have been here for many years but haven’t seen any different in addiction levels.

“Problem gambling can exhibit itself in horse racing, bingo, casinos and amusement arcades and we need to have a range of measures for the different problems.”

TotallyGaming says:

Do these measures go far enough? The Campaign for Fairer Gambling says it doesn’t. “The new system is still paper-based so nothing will improve,” the group says. FOBTs remain the point of contention. The ABB points at there being little change in problem gambling statistics, but the reputation of FOBTs as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling is something the industry can do without, even if they are a source of significant revenues. The industry needs to self-regulate or face stricter regulation, and clamping down on these controversial machines properly would provide short-term pain for long-term gain.

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