What is self-exclusion?
Pretty much all the serious gambling sites online offer self-excluding, and a wide range of brick-and-mortar casinos and gambling establishments around the world also give you the option to self-exclude.
To put it simply, you ask the gambling establishment to block you from entering. With online gambling, it means that you can no longer make wagers on the site. With brick-and-mortar places, you will be barred from entering; when you show you ID to verify your identity at the door the computer system will alert the staff that you have self-excluded. Brick-and-mortar places that do not check ID at the door are more difficult to self-exclude from, since you might slip in unnoticed.
Do I have to self-exclude for life?
No, you don’t.
The exact rules vary from one place to the next, but many gambling places give you plenty of options when you self-exclude, such as 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years and 10 years.
If you worry that you might be on the road to problematic gambling and wish to test yourself, you can, for instance, self-exclude for a month. If you notice that it’s really difficult for you to go this long without gambling, you should seriously think about seeking help right away and also self-exclude for a longer period of time.
Some people who know that they suffer from seasonal depression – or anxiety brought on by certain memorial dates – elect to self-exclude for that time of year, to keep themselves from doing bad choices under the influence of mental illness or sadness. (You usually need to do this anew each year; there is no one-step solution that will block yourself from gambling every Christmas season for the coming 10 years.)
Does self-exclusion work?
Self-exlusion works for some, but it is not an airtight system to prevent gambling. It is just one of many tools that you can employ to help curb problematic gambling habits.
If you have a special brick-and-mortar casino in your city that you like to gamble at, self-exclusion can work great, because it will force you to step back from that familiar environment that is triggering your impulse to gamble. The same is true if you are constantly drawn to that video poker parlor next to the place where you do your grocery shopping.
If you are willing to visit ANY gambling site online where you can make a wager – on slot machines, at the poker tables, in the bingo hall, buying virtual scratch cards, betting on cricket games in Afghanistan and third-tier soccer in Sweden – self-exclusion will be less helpful since you might just move on from site to site. Of course, self-excluding can still be helpful, since the effort of finding a new site to bet on, register there and make a deposit will give you some time to think and maybe stop the impulse to gamble since you can’t just quickly place a wager with a few clicks on your smartphones.
How do I self-exclude?
There are multi-operator schemes in place online where you can self-exclude from a large number of gambling sites simultaneously, but there isn’t any that will exclude you from all possible gambling opportunities online.
You may, therefore, need to visit all the gambling sites that you frequent and self-exclude yourself from each of them individually. Contact customer service and ask them for help, and they will guide you through the procedure. Make sure that they also put in a block to prevent you from receiving any type of promotional email material from them, such as campaign emails that may be triggering.
If visiting the gambling sites to self-exclude is triggering for you, it can be a good idea to ask a friend or counselor to be with you as you do it.
To self-exclude from an offline establishment, visit the venue and ask to speak to a manager. Tell them that you wish to block yourself from the venue, and they will help you through the process. You will need to fill out an exclusion form and sign it, and provide a valid ID.
Since visiting the venue can be triggering, we recommend that you don’t bring ATM or credit cards with you, and preferably not even cash.
In some cities and communities, the local Gamblers Anonymous chapter (or similar organization) can help you and lend you support when you wish to self-exclude. They can, for instance, organize a “chaperon” to go with you, to encourage you to stick to your commitment.