The ambition of creating a “reliable global self-exclusion system” was documented last month by Casino Guru, as the group aims to make further progress on a goal of making online gambling safer and reducing harm caused to vulnerable players.

With the aim of creating an industry standard in mind, the firm started work on the first phase of the initiative by focusing upon spreading awareness of the issue, and collecting feedback from the public and industry professionals.

Casino Guru, which cited a perceived ease of circumvention as the main drawback of current self-exclusion options, says that it hopes to gain valuable feedback about the best way to implement such a system, as well as its effectiveness and feasibility.

Following this initial announcement, Simon Vincze, manager of Casino Guru’s responsible gambling projects, has been speaking to CasinoBeats to delve into the final details of the project, touching upon plans moving forward and overcoming perceived shortcomings.

CasinoBeats: To begin on a relatively straight forward note, what are the thoughts behind launching an initiative to build a global self-exclusion system?

Simon Vincze: Ever since we started Casino Guru, a responsible approach to gambling has been one of our top priorities. That’s why we do our best to review casinos truly honestly, provide truthful information in our educational articles, and try to make online gambling safer by pushing casinos to be fairer to their customers.

When reviewing casinos, helping players with complaints, and reading posts on our forum, we kept noticing the issue of self-exclusion coming up frequently, namely the fact that its implementation in many casinos is less-than-ideal to say the least, and that there is no global self-exclusion system in place.

“We think that the main shortcoming of current options is that they can be very easily avoided”

The internet knows no borders, and we’ve seen players resorting to subpar foreign casinos because they have self-excluded in the local ones, for example. We think that this is something that a global self-exclusion system could rectify.

However, it needs to be said that it’s one our most ambitious projects, and our cooperation with other subjects and their involvement is vital for its success.

CB: You say that you have commenced the first phase of the initiative, how many are contained in the plan? And what does each entail?

SV: Although this may change in the future, there are three phases planned at the moment. The current, first phase of the initiative is about raising awareness of the issue and collecting feedback from various online gambling stakeholders, including operators, regulators, problem gambling help institutions, and others. From our position, we first need to start discussions with these parties and try to shift their focus to the global level.

In the second phase, we’ll focus on teaming up with organisations and individuals that agree with and support what we are trying to achieve and want to join the initiative and work towards a common goal of making online gambling safer. We’d also like to start thinking about specific solutions in more detail.

The third phase will be about close cooperation with other members of the initiative, with the goal of building the first version of the global self-exclusion system. Subsequently, we can expand the list of involved parties, which may be a bit easier when the first version already works. Maybe we can call that ‘phase four’.

CB: What would say are the major shortcomings with current self-exclusion options?

SV: We think that the main shortcoming of current options is that they can be very easily avoided by players who feel the urge to keep gambling after self-excluding in a single casino or at a national level.

“…the idea is to eliminate all options where a gambling addict can play”

For single-operator self-exclusion it’s just a matter of registering in another casino, whereas national schemes can be circumvented by looking for foreign casinos that are not included in the national scheme and are willing to let the player play.

This makes current self-exclusion options fine for some use-cases, but definitely not an effective tool that can help addicted players stay away from gambling despite the urges they are likely to feel during recovery. A unified, global approach could make self-exclusion much more effective for these players.

There are also other shortcomings of current options, such as the varying implementation of self-exclusion by individual operators or licensing authorities, which can make the tool less user-friendly and therefore less effective. Similarly, a global system could be used to shield excluded players from gambling advertisements much more effectively. It also needs to be addressed that self-exclusion is not a self-sufficient tool to help players overcome problem gambling.

CB: Related to the previous question, how do you plan to overcome these?

SV: I already covered this to a certain degree in my answer to the previous question, but, essentially, the idea is to eliminate all options where a gambling addict can play, and therefore to create an effective barrier between them and online gambling.

In regard to advertisements, it’s an industry standard that casinos don’t send promotional materials to self-excluded players. However, without a unified system in place, only the casino where the player has self-excluded knows about this, and there is nothing stopping other subjects from displaying ads to them, which can have a negative impact on a recovering gambling addict. A global system could help with this as well, if implemented correctly.

Last but definitely not least, we know that self-exclusion cannot ‘cure’ gambling addiction by itself. We plan to create a system, which would help addicted player find the help they need for recovery, while self-exclusion is preventing them from starting to gamble again.

CB: You state that “we launched this initiative, because we knew that we would never be able to achieve something like this alone,” what kind of cooperation are you looking for from potential partners on such an ambitious project?

SV: In the first phase, we are looking for anyone knowledgeable who supports our goal and is willing to give us feedback on the best way to work toward it. In the later stages, we would like to team up with the most determined subjects and work towards a specific solution of global self-exclusion.

To be able to succeed, we are looking for partners from different areas of the industry, whether it be online casinos, sports betting websites, licensing authorities and regulators, platform providers, etc. The more varied the group, the higher level of integration can be achieved, as a truly global system will require the gambling industry to work together towards a common goal.