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«Author: Dr. Jonathan Parke & Dr. Jane Rigbye Prepared for: The Responsible Gambling Trust [The Responsible Gambling Trust is the leading charity in ...»

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Self-Exclusion as a Gambling Harm

Minimisation Measure in Great Britain

An Overview of the Academic Evidence and Perspectives

from Industry and Treatment Professionals

Author: Dr. Jonathan Parke & Dr. Jane Rigbye

Prepared for: The Responsible Gambling Trust

[The Responsible Gambling Trust is the leading charity in the UK committed to minimising

gambling-related harm. As an independent national charity funded by donations from the

gambling industry, the Responsible Gambling Trust funds education, prevention and treatment services and commissions research to broaden public understanding of gambling-related harm.

The aim is to stop people getting into problems with their gambling, and ensure that those that do develop problems receive fast and effective treatment and support.] ©Responsible Gambling Trust 2014 For all enquiries regarding this report please contact: jonathan@responsiblegamblingtrust.org.uk 3 Self-Exclusion as a Gambling Harm Minimisation Measure in Great Britain: An Overview of the Academic Evidence and Perspectives from Industry and Treatment Professionals July 2014 Dr. Jonathan Parke Responsible Gambling Trust Dr. Jane Rigbye Responsible Gambling Trust 4


1 Acknowledgements

2 Executive Summary

3 Introduction

3.1 Overview

3.2 Review of the academic literature

4 Stakeholder Surveys

4.1 Background to stakeholder surveys

4.2 Gambling operator perspectives

4.3 Treatment provider perspectives

4.4 Use of stakeholder survey data in the rest of this report

4.5 Trade body activity in relation to self-exclusion

5 Literature Review and Stakeholder Perspectives

5.1 What is self-exclusion?

5.2 Academic evidence is limited

5.3 Promotion and enactment of self-exclusion agreements

5.4 Impact of self-exclusion

5.5 Who self-excludes?

5.6 Multi-Operator Self-Exclusion Schemes (MOSES)

5.7 Optimal duration of agreement

5.8 Links to treatment

5.9 Third-party exclusion requests

5.10 Self-exclusion by product

5.11 Staff training and corporate culture

5.12 Card-blocking as an adjunct to self-exclusion in some land-based venues............ 41 6 Conclusions and Recommendations

6.1 What do we currently know and what is still unclear?

6.2 Research priorities for self-exclusion

7 References

8 Appendix 1. Self-Exclusion Working Group

9 Appendix 2. Gambling Operator Survey

10 Appendix 3. Treatment Provider Survey

11 Appendix 4. Trade Body Activity in Self-exclusion

11.1 Bingo Association

11.2 National Casino Forum

11.3 Remote Gambling Association


11.4 BACTA

11.5 Association of British Bookmakers (ABB)



The authors would like to thank all of the gambling operators and treatment providers who participated in the surveys; and Peter Hannibal, Peter Howitt and the National Clinicians Network Forum for helping with the distribution of the surveys.

We are grateful to the various British Trade Associations representing the various gambling sectors including BACTA, the Remote Gambling Association, the National Casino Forum and the Bingo Association. We also thank Andrew Lyman and Andrea McQueen (William Hill) for sharing their views and insights through personal communication outside of this review.

We would also like to thank Helena Chambers (QAAD) for co-ordinating feedback from her colleagues Amelia Ablpanalp (Evangelical Alliance), Martin Kettle (The Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England), Lauri Moyle (CARE) and James North (Methodist Church).

Finally, we extend our thanks to the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board’s Self-Exclusion Working Group (in particular Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Paul Bellringer and Jon Watkin) who both developed the treatment-focussed questionnaire and coordinated data collection from the treatment providers.

The review component of this report has been drawn from a sub-section of a broader report

exploring operator-based forms of harm minimisation and the full reference for this report is:

Blaszczysnski, A., Parke, A. J., Parke, J., & Rigbye, J. (2014). Operator-based Approaches to

Harm Minimisation in Gambling: Summary, Review and Future Directions. London:

Responsible Gambling Trust.



The purpose of this report was to examine the academic literature regarding self-exclusion as

a form of harm minimisation in gambling and consider views from two key stakeholders:

namely gambling operators and treatment providers in Great Britain.

Outcome of the review

The review revealed that there are limits to the extent that existing research can offer new insight into the current challenges related to self-exclusion in Great Britain. Most studies relate specifically to a particular product or jurisdiction, rely on weak research designs, draw from self-selected samples and were completed more than five years ago when technology and the gambling landscape were considerably different to that which currently exists.

There were however some consistent findings indicating that in order to improve

effectiveness, self-exclusion protocols should be:

actively yet strategically promoted;

• quick and simple to implement;

• administered by attentive, well-trained staff;

• attracting sufficient investment in resources and technology to improve enforcement;

• comprehensive rather than isolated in coverage (where feasible).

• Evidence from other jurisdictions suggests that promotion of self-exclusion is generally weak in gambling venues. Expectations for operators regarding what constitutes reasonable attempts to promote self-exclusion should be more prescriptive, which would also facilitate auditing and evaluation. Enactment (and reinstatement) should be simple and convenient, remotely accessible, discreet and minimise further exposure to gambling products.

A long–term focus for improving enforcement is the evaluation of efficient options to use technology (e.g., card-based options or biometrics) to improve detection of breaches.

However, more short-term options with potentially fewer costs, such as withholding winnings, may also be worthy of further investigation.

Multi-operator self-exclusion is a priority

There exists unanimous agreement that the potential effectiveness of self-exclusion is undermined by the opportunity to gamble at different venues, with different operators, on different products, and even in different jurisdictions. While technological developments do increase accessibility to gambling, they also facilitate the secure sharing of information on a large scale and therefore create opportunities for multi-operator self-exclusion. However, initial feasibility studies have identified a series of potential challenges demonstrating that any self-exclusion solution involving multiple operators is unlikely to be straightforward or amenable to swift implementation.

Flexibility and control in self-exclusion

The empirical evidence does not currently permit one to draw definitive conclusions as to whether exclusion should be promoted as a tool for supporting abstinence only or whether it should also evolve as a tool to support control. However, we feel this issue merits further investigation, particularly in light of growing evidence that problem gambling is not necessarily a chronic condition. Flexibility regarding duration and the type of gambling product tied to 8 the exclusion agreement is of particular interest. Flexible self-exclusion options may reduce barriers to uptake, engage a wider range of customers and promote self-control among those where abstinence is not their goal.

Efficient use of harm minimisation resources

Evidence suggests that even though most excluders breach their agreement, there are usually significant positive impacts on financial, social and/or mental wellbeing. Whether these improvements would have happened in the absence of a self-exclusion agreement remains unclear. Additionally, the relative impact on resources versus the impact on harm minimisation is yet to be determined for most approaches to self-exclusion. The challenge here is determining to what extent outcomes should divert required levels of investment in staffing, technology and administration away from other approaches to harm minimisation.

Further examination of these issues is an important next step.

Stakeholder surveys identify similar priorities

Information gathered from stakeholder surveys indicates broad consensus regarding the priorities for improving self-exclusion in Great Britain including staff training, supporting fast and efficient implementation of agreements, programme evaluation and further exploration of options to improve coverage of self-exclusion agreements across operators and industry sectors. These views resonate with some of the key findings from the academic literature.

Recommendations We suggest that priorities for primary and secondary research in this area include the


A detailed consideration of the technical, operational and legal issues that will • facilitate or constrain the range of solutions to the enforcement of self-exclusion, and in particular, Multi-Operator Self-Exclusion Schemes (MOSES).

Ongoing identification and trialling of technology to facilitate the enforcement of • self-exclusion including facial recognition technology.

Identifying and exploring options for restricting debit and credit card use in land based venues as a primary or adjunct facility to self-exclude.

Investigating industry and player perspectives on more innovative approaches to • self-exclusion (e.g., disentitlement options, product-specific exclusion) and to better understand post-exclusion behaviour among gamblers.

As part of a broader programme of harm minimisation research, further studies • should continue to explore the feasibility and accuracy of identifying gamblers who may be at risk or experiencing harm, so that promotion of harm minimisation measures can be more targeted.


3.1 Overview This report is one of a series of papers produced by the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT), the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) and the Gambling Commission to take stock of current understanding with regards to the nature and effectiveness of self-exclusion as a form of harm minimisation in gambling. The survey components of this report have been initiated by the Self-Exclusion Working Group set up by the RSGB.

Accordingly, the aims of this report were to:

1. Examine the academic literature regarding self-exclusion as harm minimisation in gambling;

2. Consider views from two key stakeholders: gambling operators and treatment professionals who operate in Great Britain.

This report is intended for a broad range of stakeholders including industry, regulators, treatment professionals and researchers. This report extends to consider operational and regulatory issues through identifying priority areas for research and offering initial guidance on how existing research findings could be applied in operator-based approaches to selfexclusion. While this report has been written with the British context in mind, we consider that most issues will have some relevance beyond Great Britain.

3.2 Review of the academic literature Academic literature reviewed in this report was identified in three concurrent phases: a search of online electronic databases; grey literature accessed through web-based searches, personal knowledge and professional contacts; and through ‘snowballing‘, where references within other academic papers are pursued (Greenhalgh & Peacock, 2005).

Academic databases searched included: Academic Search Elite, Business Source Complete, PsychArticles, PsychInfo, Science Direct and Scopus. In addition, generalist web search engines (Google, and subsequently Google Scholar) were also used to identify relevant grey literature or technical reports not subject to traditional peer-review processes. Other relevant literature has also been considered using a similar approach where an appropriate link has been made with self-exclusion.


4.1 Background to stakeholder surveys While the theoretical basis for using self-exclusion as a form of harm minimisation is discussed in this report, the RGSB’s Self-Exclusion Working Group1 believed that it was also important to obtain a practical understanding of the operational issues from those working in the gambling industry and a better understanding of the clinical and practical issues from those working in treatment organisations. Views on these issues were expected to provide additional insight to supplement that provided in the academic literature.

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