Earlier this week, it was announced that the Australian government will introduce legislation allowing citizens to ban themselves from online gambling sites. Known as the National Self-Exclusion Register, its goal is to reduce the amount of problem gambling within the nation.

How Self-Exclusion Programs Work

In some cases, self-exclusion programs are enforced by a particular nation. If a gambling institution operates within their borders, then it’s required to implement the policy.

Meanwhile, numerous casinos voluntarily offer such programs. This helps generate positive publicity, but it can also keep potential government regulations at bay. It’s also helpful in avoiding lawsuits from problem gamblers looking to blame someone other than themselves.

Whatever the case, punters start the self-exclusion process by signing up. Land-based casinos offer in-person applications, although some may also provide online enrolment. Virtual casinos, meanwhile, allow players to fill out forms via the Internet.

Players are given the option to self-exclude for various periods of time. With the Australian program, the length will range from three months to a permanent ban.

If an excluded player is found inside a land-based casino, they’ll be asked to leave. After repeat violation, they might even be charged with trespassing. Some casinos use facial recognition software to help spot excluded players, but catching such individuals can still be a tricky proposition.

It’s much easier to exclude online punters. In most cases, it’s just a matter of blocking them from a specific website. If the player can’t access the site, then there’s no chance of them gambling there.

Countries with Self-Exclusion Programs

A number of countries have offered nationwide self-exclusion programs. Most focus on brick-and-mortar casinos, while some are aimed at online gambling. The list of participants includes everyone from the United States and Switzerland to Canada and Australia.

Yes, you read that correctly. Aussies already have access to various self-exclusion programs.

Self-Exclusion for Land-Based Casinos

For years, various parts of Australia have offered self-exclusion programs for land-based casino gambling. Between 9% and 17% of Aussie problem gamblers were self-excluded, according to a 2010 report.

Based on prior research, Aussies currently seeking treatment for gambling addiction are most likely to use self-exclusion. Unfortunately, it’s less likely to be used as a preventative tool.

Reactions to the Announcement

Anne Ruston the Australian Minster of Families and Social Services

The most vocal advocate so far has been Anne Ruston, Minister of Families and Social Services. According to her, “As much as possible, government policy should preserve Australians’ ability to enjoy a punt while putting in place sensible and targeted measures to prevent and support gamblers facing significant risks of harm.”

She also added that, “It is a measure that we believe will motivate gamblers to have periods where they do not gamble online at all as a way of changing their behaviour and minimizing the risk they face of gambling-related harm.”

Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and Arts, also spoke in favour of the program. He stated, “This legislation is an important step to help Australian gamblers minimize their risks. Once the Register is operational ACMA will regulate licensed interactive wagering providers so they comply with the legislation and make sure people receive the support they need.”

Final Thoughts

The responsibility of implementing the register will rest with the Australian Communication and Media Authority. They’ll make sure excluded players are barred from online casinos, as well as receiving no adverting or promotions for such services.

It’s also worth noting that the government released findings from research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Of those who participated in their study, an estimated 52% were already classified as at-risk gamblers.

There’s little doubt in my mind that many Aussies have a serious gambling problem. After all, the data has repeatedly backed up this assertion. Having another option in place to protect at-risk individuals can only be a good thing.