Pokies Venues Failing to Stop Gamblers on Self Exclusion List
There are many tools out there to help problem gamblers. One of those tools is self-exclusion. Self-exclusion allows problem gamblers to have themselves banned from pokies venues as well as live and online casinos in Australia.
However, does self-exclusion really work in live venues? According to a report by ABC Investigations, pokies venues are falling short in stopping self-excluded gamblers from playing.
Pokie Houses Failing to Stop Gamblers on Self-Exclusion List
When a person is put on a self-exclusion list, they cannot play or even enter pokie houses. This is done to prevent them from losing money or from harming their recovery from gambling addiction. However, reality may be a bit different.
According to a report from ABC Investigations, live pokies venues in Australia are failing to prevent self-excluded players from entering. This is not just random claims from players, but hard evidence presented through an investigation.
An ABC investigative reporter joined a gambler by the name of “Doug” as he tried to enter and play at three different pokies venues. He is on the self-exclusion list at all three venues. In each case, Doug was able to enter and play at the machines. He went out of his way to interact with staff, order drinks, and even had someone help him play one of the machines.
Not once out of the three venues visited was Doug approached regarding his self-exclusion status. According to the reports, Doug claims to have only been stopped twice from entering or playing at pokie venues since joining the exemption list.
Pubs and Venues Face No Penalties for Failing Problem Gamblers
What’s perhaps most surprising about this situation is the fact that pubs and other pokies venues do not face penalties for failing to stop problem gamblers. Venues do not presently face a fine or any penalties for allowing a player on the self-exclusion list from gambling at their facility.
Doug told ABC, “It’s a joke really. I’ve gambled well over a hundred times in different venues after signing up to the scheme. I have put my hand up, said I’m unwell, that I need help with this issue. I’ve got counseling, I signed up to self-exclusion, but I can still empty my life savings into these machines and nothing is done about it.”
That could change in the future if a bill recently filed by NSW Minister Victor Dominello. His bill will impose steep penalties to venues that fail to block gamblers on the self-exclusion list. Violations could land a fine of $27,500 per incident. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, for smaller venues like pokie pubs, these fines could be crippling.
Extra Steps Necessary to Strengthen Self-Exclusion
As Doug points out in the ABC report, there are extra steps that venues can take to strengthen self-exclusion enforcement. For example, facial recognition technology can identify problem gamblers. Also, there are registers that can be set up to identify those on the self-exclusion list. Doug pointed out that he had to sign COVID registries, so the venues could setup a self-exclusion registry. This alone could help strengthen enforcement.
Minister Dominello agrees with this view. ABC spoke with Dominello and he said that “You can use technology to improve lives and reduce suffering, so provided there is privacy and security settings — absolutely. First and foremost, I think this is a type of dialogue we need to have.”
The fact that live venues are not taking advantage of some form of a registry to identify self-excluded gamblers is a bit troubling. Australian online casinos offer players the ability to self-exclude from sites and once they add themselves to the list, they can no longer play.
It is interesting that live venues are doing less than online casinos to protect gamblers on self-exclusion lists. If live venues want to tout themselves as a safer alternative to online gambling, then they need to provide the resources to back up those claims.
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