What is gambling self-exclusion? And why is ID so important?

Problem gambling has become a major issue in the UK, with a survey from Gamble Aware suggesting that up to 1.4 million adults (2.7 per cent of the adult population) in the country, could be problem gamblers.

One way of stopping people from betting altogether, and thus in theory cutting out many of the issues, is self-exclusion.

Self-exclusion is a system that aims to protect problem gamblers by stopping them from gambling. The Gambling Commission describes it as…

“…a facility for those that have decided that they wish to stop gambling for at least six months and wish to be supported in their decision to stop”.

A key part of this is gamblers recognising that they have a problem, which is a whole issue in itself.

Getting into a cycle of chasing losses, or wanting to bet larger and larger amounts to get the same feeling from gambling, are two issues that the NHS lists as qualifying a person as a problem gambler. These two situations can therefore prevent a person from recognising they have issues with betting, as they continue to bet larger and larger sums.

Assuming that someone has recognised and has self-excluded, this should mean that they can’t sign up to other sites, and they can’t gamble. This is where using some form of identification comes in.

The Gambling Commission states that requiring ID for betting sites helps in three ways…

“To check you are old enough to gamble

to check whether you have self-excluded from gambling

to confirm your identity.”

Having to show a form of ID to use any gambling website, would allow other websites to check whether someone is self-excluding, and therefore prevent them from accessing the betting website.

If there is no such ID system, there is nothing to stop someone from entering fake details, using a new email address, using another credit or debit card, and betting elsewhere.

While there are some sites that require both ID and proof of address (Bank statement etc.) such as William Hill. There are still major betting sites in the UK that require no ID, and simply with a change of email address, a new account can be created.

This is with the backdrop of a review by an All Parties Parliamentary Group for Gambling Harm, submitting a review of gambling regulation in the UK. IDs and requirements for setting up accounts were addressed. The review happened in December, and the results are set to come out later this year.

So without ID, new accounts can be set up by those that are trying to stop gambling. Without IDs as a requirement, the system of self-exclusion can be easily worked around.

However, even with the threat of companies being forced to ask for ID, moves haven’t been made to change any of the systems on some gambling sites.

If you have an issue surrounding the ineffectiveness of self-exclusion, or want to raise awareness of how easy it is for problem gamblers to make new accounts use the hashtag #noIDnoBET on Twitter.