Is being plugged into a 24/7 online culture with easy access to gambling websites and apps making it impossible for addicts to self-exclude? The proliferation of websites dedicated to gambling activities has moved the lure of a punt from the opening and closing times of the local bookmakers or casino to a person’s entire life. It is now possible to choose from dozens of online sites, a myriad of games, sporting bets, and downloadable apps for smart phones, computers, and tablets. It is safe to say the addict is being tested and lured like never before.
What is Self-Exclusion?
Self-exclusion is a means by which an addict, regardless of what they are addicted to, take themselves away from the substance or action to which they are addicted. It is seen as one of the most restrictive treatments to addiction and has generated mixed opinions among mental health professionals and addiction treatment experts. The ability to successfully control addictive behavior is determined by willpower, temptation, personal goals and self-regulatory resources. A major element of this is in working with gambling institutions so that an addict is not allowed to access a casino or bookmakers.
Does the Internet Inhibit Self-Exclusion?
The Internet directly interferes with temptation by taking something which was once limited to specific streets or areas of a town or city, to wherever a person finds themselves at any time of the day or night, at weekends, and even when alone in the countryside. It is, however, device dependent, which means a tablet, mobile phone or computer will have to have Internet access and the right sites or apps in order to facilitate gambling. Academics and addiction professionals agree that “greater accessibility to gambling (remote or land-based) will be likely to undermine a self-exclusion agreement.”
In short, having a culture of constant communication and access to gambling sites and apps makes it more difficult for addicts to exercise self-exclusion. In doing so, they need to self-exclude from a wider range of online activities or exercise more self-control than they have had to in the past.
Can Online Gambling Sites Help?
Each gambling organization is limited by the law of the land as to who they can accept as customers and what bets can be taken. In addition each business will work with industry associations, regulators, and will partake in group codes of conducts as well as in-house rules. A survey of gambling operators in the UK led to suggestions on how said companies can best work with the principles of self-exclusion. These included making such agreements irrevocable, ensuring all staff are trained on the issue, providing information for third party support, and that players should be able to enact self-exclusion without interacting with staff or visiting the venue.
Treatment Providers Need More Support
Addiction treatment providers report that only a small percentage of those in need of help take up such support. Furthermore, they report that records are not being kept of self-exclusion engagements. Online gambling institutions as well as those with physical locations, should work with treatment providers and addicts to develop a simple self-exclusion principle, so addicts able to exclude themselves from gambling websites and apps, then be encouraged to seek treatment for their problems. Currently only 40% of addicts want to attempt self-exclusion, but with better education and access to information this could increase.
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Parke, Dr. Adrian, Harris, Andrew, et al., 2014, Restricting Access: Self–Exclusion as a Gambling Harm Minimisation Measure in Great Britain, The Journal of Responsible Gambling Business and Economics
Various, 2010, Increasing the Odds Vol.5: Evaluation Self–Exclusion as an Intervention for Disordered Gambling, National Center for Responsible Gaming
Feature Image By Santcomm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26584082