Some of our regular readers might be a little tired of us harping on about responsible gambling by now, but we know how important is it for all players to engage with casinos in a healthy way, so we’re going to keep covering every aspect. This week’s responsible gambling news is in equal parts exciting and worrying: exciting because the UK Gambling Commission seems to finally have got the ball rolling on a national self-exclusion data base and worrying because it seems that it’s the industry which will have to foot the bill.
Self-exclusion is when you ask a casino to prevent you from gambling at its site. While definitely not the answer to problem gambling in itself, self-exclusion is a hugely useful tool in the arsenal of anyone fighting addiction. While self-exclusion has been proven to be useful, you must manually self-exclude yourself from each and every online and mobile casino you have access to. Essentially, there will always be somewhere new you can sign-up, login and play, which is a huge problem when it comes to problem gambling.
The obvious answer to this – and an idea which has been floating around for some time – is a nationwide self-exclusion scheme; basically a central database of players who wish to self-exclude from all online gambling activities. While the idea has been tossed around for quite a while now, it was not until this week that the UKGC released a framework plan for what will be titled Central Hub for Online Operator Self Exclusion (CHOOSE). The current plan will see CHOOSE fully operational by 2017.
While CHOOSE has unanimous support throughout the industry, the last big factor to be decided upon is the cost of the project. The UKGC announced that the scheme would cost £2,000,000 to establish, and require a further £1,000,000 annually to keep it operating. And where is the money to come from? It’s been decided that online operators will bear the entire weight of the cost.
In its proposal, UKGC explained that “a mechanism will need to be created so that all operators who participate contribute towards the costs in an equitable way”. While this seems fair to me – operators paying to keep players (their customers) safe – it may not exactly be music to the ears of the operators themselves. Now, they will have to fork out even more cash to stay in business in the UK.
It’s still early days since the announcement and we haven’t had a chance to hear the reaction form casinos and betting operators yet, but it’ll be interesting to know their take on having to fund the project. However, with names like William Hill, SkyBet, Paddy Power, GTECH, IGT, and Playtech all signed up to consult on the ins and outs of implementation, it’s likely that operators won’t be too badly hit.