Why we need a national self-exclusion scheme

In light of recent fines, CEO of Bencon Technologies Cameron Conn discusses the importance of a national self-exclusion scheme to properly protect players across state lines

We are getting close. Responsible gaming is finally taking the turn from topic of conversation to a must-be addressed policy. From bricks-and-mortar operations to the online gaming space, responsible gaming programs are continuing to become government mandates, operator core-values, and revenue-distribution models.

This is all great progress and the industry players are proud of their efforts. Unfortunately, the industry is intrinsically designed to protect its stakeholder’s individual interests while reducing liability.

The tidal wave caused by the reversal of PASPA highlights how flawed, regardless of good intentions, current efforts are. Regulated states have begun creating robust responsible gaming programs equipped with state run exclusion policies, customer behavior analytics technology and problem gaming education supported by the scientific and academic community.

Lead by example

The industry should applaud states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania for embracing their responsibility in the online space to provide operator infrastructure and ensuring the necessary steps in player protection are being implemented.

As good as these programs are, their functionality ends at state borders. Geolocation may prohibit an out-of-state patron from gaining access to egaming content, but there is no protection stopping an ‘at-risk’ or ‘self-excluded’ patron from physically crossing a state border and visiting a bricks-and-mortar or online property.

States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have highly populated borders providing quick out-of-state access to gamblers. Issues like these will continue to grow as more states begin adopting sports betting and online gaming legislation that will not be solved solely by a regulator or operator.

Solutions will come from third parties and vendor partnerships that are impartial to operators or regulators and designed to protect the industry and its customers. Voluntary self-exclusion is the industry’s low hanging fruit. It is a black-and-white decision. It is not objective, it is identifiable.

Do not let these players gain access to gaming content. States do a good job of this but there have been instances of players gaining access. It shows there is the propensity for players who have self-excluded to attempt to break their exclusion.

Some players will sign up and never be seen or heard of again. Others however will sign up, wait for the day their exclusion expired and show back up like nothing has changed and by days-end be re-signing for another year.

I have witnessed players attempt to break their self-exclusion with disguises.  These players received the same messaging, pamphlets, and contract, yet had wildly different post-exclusion behavior.

As players behave this way in the brick-and- mortar sector, we are certain to see it in the digital space. It must be a priority of the industry to protect these players. The current model for self-exclusion relies on players signing up, information being disseminated by the regulatory body, and the operators updating their CRMs.

Finding ways to include additional points of checks like payment processes enhances the screening of at-risk patrons. Combining payments and a centralized self-exclusion check will create anchor data points that allow for cross jurisdictional comparison through aggregated data to help create more personalized player health and protection programs.

Spending many years taking responsible gaming policy and turning them into functional operational plans has taught us many things; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We must protect our players especially when they make the decision to self-exclude.

p31 Cameron Conn headshot

Cameron Conn, CEO of Bencon Technologies Inc, is a gaming executive with over 15 years’ experience in property design/ development, gaming operations, compliance and responsible gaming. During his career in the bricks-and-mortar sector, Conn has worked in all areas of gaming floor operations, giving him a unique knowledge about the operationalization of responsible gaming programs.

New Jersey | Pennsylvania | Regulation | Regulation | Responsible gambling | self-exclusion