UK Gambling Self-Exclusion Systems Roundup By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports April 13, 2018 at 1:01 am There have been several leaks from the UK’s current self-exclusion systems exposed recently, be they the Multi Operator Self Exclusions Scheme (MOSES) used by many existing high street bookmakers across the land or the unique self-exclusion arrangements set up by each licensed provider of online gambling options. Both have come under fire recently. We’ll explore some emerging apps and products which attempt to put the power back in the hands of the consumer, regardless of where they are playing. The live bookies came under criticism after an undercover BBC report into self-exclusion schemes found that only one out of seventeen betting shops in Grimsby tested by self-excluding reporter Rob Cave actually acted on self-exclusion information to prevent him from repeat play. The Association of Bookmakers was quoted as saying “We accept that the current self-exclusion scheme is not without flaws… we are continually developing improved systems.” Admittedly, the betting shop’s staff could not have been expected to identify Cave by sight as a problem player, but this story still raises questions. As does the recent poll, conducted by Chrysalis Research in 2017 and submitted to MOSES, in which it was found that 83% of survey registrants felt that MOSES had been effective in “reducing or stopping” their gambling activity. All very well, one might think, until one then reads that 71% of respondents had never attempted to use any premises from which they had opted to exclude themselves. This clearly suggests that the former number might be more indicative of the perception of MOSES than its actual performance.The same research, to its credit, did note several specific flaws. It found that the increase seen in self-exclusions put pressure on staff in terms of how to recall and execute the system in practice, in real-time. It noted issues with finding time to process new self-exclusions promptly, as well as noting that the system was less likely to be effective at stopping the gambling of those with the worst problem gambling issues. Researchers recommended more in-depth staff training, more clear protocols for levels of staff response, sign-posting of further resources for those at risk of problem gambling, and furthermore suggest exploring the option of online registration and systems for self-exclusion. On the online side, several seriously major operators have had to pony up significant cash in either settlements or fines for matters at least in part relating to self-exclusion failings. 888 Holdings last August settled for £7.8 million, in part over failings which saw 7,000 self-excluded players still able to deposit funds and play on their gambling platforms for sports betting, casino and poker play. In all £3.5 million was wagered under this error before it was detected.More recently, SkyBet voluntarily disclosed multiple failings to the Great Britain Gambling Commission, including a failing which led to over 700 self-excluded players being able to register secondary accounts enabling them to keep wagering, some of which were under the same personal details as excluded accounts. A further 36,000+ accounts failed, upon being self-excluded, to return funds held, and a staggering 50,000 self-excluded accounts continued to receive marketing content from the firm. Since these disclosures were voluntarily, SkyBet were only required to pay out £1 million in penalties, along with associated funds. Now, the Gambling Commission and the Remote Gambling Association themselves are working on a universal solution called GAMSTOP. Originally expected to launch at the end of 2017, the actual rollout has been delayed until, at the latest reporting, this spring. This delay will allow users to self-exclude from every single online gambling provider licensed by the GBGC. Users have been consulted throughout the development process, and the current model offers the option to define a minimum period for self-exclusion. When offering statements on its development, a GBGC spokesperson said, “An industry-led and managed solution is best placed to deliver an effective and efficient scheme by building… on the core experience and expertise in the industry of developing and overseeing large IT solutions, as well as administering current self-exclusion schemes.” But some independent solutions have also hit the UK market during the long lag between the early development of GAMSTOP and its still-anticipated appearance. Gamban is a solution for hardware which has existed since 2015. A means of blocking specific devices from accessing gambling services online, it costs £10 annually, and is effective against casinos, slots, poker, bingo, skins betting and esports, among others. It aims to be a minimalist piece of software with a thin profile, and supports Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices. The reviews on Gamban’s Trustpilot page are almost universally positive and filled with grateful voices, so this is clearly something that at least a percentage of the British public have been crying out for. Of course, Gamban doesn’t tackle brick and mortar gambling. There are moves being made in the high street, too, as well as on the casino floor. Facial recognition is becoming a relevant factor in the execution of self-exclusion systems, and several developers of such systems have lately begun to make overtures towards the casino giants. These systems, generally, use AI-supported technical systems in conjunction with camera systems already in the venue to identify self-excluded individuals, thus eliminating the need for trained staff to try and identify self-excluded players on the casino floor. If affordable, this is something of a no-brainer for bigger venues, but even AI doesn’t erase the need to better train staff on more effective self-exclusion measures. Paddy Power notably took one of Chrysalis’ recommendations to heart recently, announcing the imminent replacement of their existing MOSES system with a digital one, which will be able to instantly exclude players from up to ten local betting venues at a time. Here, again, the proof of the pudding will be in the execution. Paddy Power’s new system rolls out in June 2018 in the UK and by the end of year in Ireland. As it happens, the man whose name adorns this very publication, Andrew Tottenham, is also involved in the development of a program aimed at providing a land-based self-exclusion solution, namely Gamblewise, a freeware app available for download at www.gamblewise.org. Operators registered with the app can give their customers the option of setting limits on play time and frequency of play at the venue. There is also a full self-exclusion feature built into Gamblewise, which automatically notifies a venue if a customer enters the casino while carrying the device on which the app is installed. It’s a neat product, with a versatile set of options for the user, providing both a further means of assisting operators in enforcing self-exclusion systems and a nice degree of flexibility and control for users. There’s innovation at work in the market, and it’s just as well and probably overdue. Legacy systems have clearly left quite a lot to be desired, and new options are only more necessary as time goes by. Reliable, functional means of self-exclusion are absolute must-haves in both the live and online gambling worlds, if we are at all serious about protecting the players who make the scene what it is.