The Nevada Gaming Commission took an unprecedented step to curb problem gaming this month: Allowing those who want to control their gambling impulses to put themselves on a list that prevents them from being able to play online games.
Adding one’s name to the newly created “self-exclusion” blocks a user’s ability to access interactive games operated on the internet. The measure does not apply to land-based gaming, so anyone on the self-exclusion list can still play casino games in person without conflict.
Within the new text added to Regulation 5A are several paragraphs addressing the addition of a self-exclusion list to be overseen by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
It’s the first time Nevada regulators have attempted monitoring such a list.
“Self-exclusion” is telling gaming regulators that you want to be prevented from being allowed to play interactive games, those involving access to poker or online casino games through the internet.
Those who have never witnessed the damage that can be inflicted by problem gambling might not get why some people need to put themselves on a list to quit playing.
Having known some compulsive gamblers among friends here, I was surprised but pleased to see the self-exclusion measures included in the regulation amendments.
Here are some of the key additions to the regulation:
“The board shall establish and maintain a statewide list of individuals who have self-excluded from participating in interactive gaming and the date each individual self-excluded. The board shall update the statewide list of individuals who have self-excluded each day and provide operators with access to the list.”
It’s important to note that the measure only applies to interactive gaming and not land-based gaming. Persons on the self-exclusion list can still play casino games in person without conflict.
A representative of the Control Board said the board’s Technology Division is still working through the details of how the list would work, but the concept is that an individual would fill out a form, available online or through a licensee, before being added to the list. When individuals complete the form, the operator would be required to submit it directly to the board and exclude them from participating in any interactive play.
Because interactive gaming players register with individual companies where they play, it should be a simple matter to match up prospective players against the self-exclusion list to make sure they’re truly excluded.
Alan Feldman, a distinguished fellow at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute and a leading authority on responsible gaming, said that even though there is no evidence that self-exclusion prevents growth in problem gambling, he’s glad Nevada regulators have taken a step toward establishing preventive measures.
“It’s because the act of signing up for it is a very validating and affirming action because it is now that moment where you’ve said, ‘I need to do something,’ and that often is a critical moment in a problem gambler’s journey,” Feldman said. “Does it actually do anything for them? Do they have a better outcome ? Not really, but I wouldn’t throw it all away because of that.”
Feldman has seen self-exclusion programs operated in other states and he believes Nevada is proceeding with an appropriate level of oversight. He believes Nevada licensees won’t have any problem adapting to the Control Board’s system because many of them have been required to be a part of self-exclusion programs in other states in which they operate.
What he doesn’t want to see is too much overreach by regulators where self-exclusion lists include restrictions for brick-and-mortar casinos as well as online. That scenario often includes police officers brought to a casino to arrest a self-excluded patron who entered the building. That’s not what’s happening in Nevada.
“So far,” Feldman said, “I think they’ve handled this appropriately.”