Self-exclusion is one of the main tools available to problem gamblers. This self-help tool allows gamblers to exclude themselves from casinos. The industry touts this as being an effective measure in curbing gambling harm.
However, gambling counsellors in NSW are now claiming that self-exclusion schemes are ineffective and that further measures are necessary to curb problem gambling. These steps include using cashless gambling cards for venues across the region.
Counsellors Claim Self-Exclusion is Ineffective
ClubsNSW and various casinos in NSW operate a self-exclusion scheme that allows players to exclude themselves from playing at casinos and pubs. Players who opt to join the program will be immediately banned from 35 venues near them. These venues include those located close to where players reside, work, or socialise.
The Guardian put out a report on Friday speaking out against this scheme. They primarily used quotes from a problem gambler from Sydney. This person claims that the 35 venue limit is too narrow. He states that players can just get in their cars and drive a short distance to find a venue to play at.
Furthermore, he states that a 35 venue limit is only a couple of postcodes from his location. With thousands of pokies available in the region, the player argued that it is impossible to avoid problem gambling.
The Wesley Mission is also speaking out against self-exclusion schemes, calling them ineffective. General Manager Jim Wackett spoke against the schemes, stating, “The current patchwork system in NSW is ineffective at providing support to the people who need it most. A range of hurdles, from limits on the number of venues from which a person can self-exclude to a cumbersome self-application process, renders the current system deeply flawed.”
Wackett further claims that venues are not enforcing the schemes as they have no obligation to do so. He states, “Our gambling counsellors are often hearing stories from clients who have tried to exclude themselves from venues, but they must approach each venue in turn.” He continues that the number of pokies available in the region makes self-exclusion impossible.
ClubsNSW Says that Self-Exclusion Scheme is Sufficient
ClubsNSW has run a self-exclusion scheme for over a decade. ClubSAFE allows players to self-exclude from 35 venues. According to a spokesperson from ClubsNSW, this system is sufficient for most problem gamblers.
The spokesperson also stated that the limit is a soft limit. “In circumstances where an individual requests to be excluded from additional venues, this is easily facilitated.” The spokesperson also reminded everyone that they are adding facial recognition technology to gaming floors at pubs and clubs across the region.
When facial recognition technology is fully implemented, a player can then be excluded from all pubs and clubs in the state without having to contact individual facilities. Theoretically, this should help to curb some of the concerns about self-exclusion schemes in NSW.
Groups Claim More Needs to Be Done
While expanding self-exclusion schemes is helpful, some feel it is not enough to help curb problem gambling. Many are calling for more regulations that include cashless gambling cards for pokie venues. Cashless gambling cards will allow casinos to impose limits on everything from deposits to the amount of time players gamble.
Furthermore, cashless gambling cards will also allow players to completely self-exclude from gambling across a region. For starters, gambling machines would no longer accept cash for betting. All funds must be on a card. If a player self-excludes, they cannot to put money on a card.
The limits put in place by cashless gambling cards will also stop money laundering and other fraudulent activities that have gone on at casinos in recent years.