Self exclusion: A gateway to treatment

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to inform industry, treatment providers, regulators and the community about how to best provide assistance to individuals who have a problem with their gambling. The paper builds on the previous Current Issues: Identifying the Problem Gambler in the Gambling Venue (Allcock, 2002) that sought to provide guidelines for venues to be aware of possible behaviours that could be associated with problem gambling and advice on how venues could provide assistance. The self-exclusion program evaluated was operated under the direction of the security department of the casino. The program itself was publicised through a pamphlet available in different areas of the casino. The program required an individual who decided to self-exclude from the casino to approach a security agent who then took them into a private office on the premises. The gambler completed and signed a consent form, specifying the length of the desired self-exclusion period (minimum 6 months, maximum 5 years). A photograph of the individual was taken and attached to the form. A cohort of individuals applying for self-exclusion was invited to participate in the research project immediately after the official application procedure was completed. Potentially the most significant finding of this study is that 30% of the participants complied with the order and remained abstinent during their self-exclusion. However the remaining two-thirds complied with the agreement by not entering the nominated gaming venue, but continued to gamble elsewhere. The effectiveness of the program is subject to the criteria used to define outcomes. If the aim of self-exclusion through its very nature and structure is to foster abstinence, then the Canadian study suggests a failure rate in the vicinity of 70%. However, it cannot be dismissed that self-exclusion, although breached, may result in continued but lower levels of gambling activity and thus lead to a reduction in harm and potential improvement in control over behaviours in a larger proportion of gamblers.

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