A betting industry-driven self-exclusion program for UK problem gamblers is proving effective even as those with stronger gambling addictions probe the system for weaknesses.
On Tuesday, the GambleAware charity issued a report on its evaluation of the Multi-Operator Self-Exclusion Scheme (MOSES) launched last spring by the Senet Group, the UK betting industry’s self-regulatory watchdog.
Around 3,500 individuals have so far signed up for the program, which allows punters to nominate a number of betting shops in their area from which they will be prohibited from wagering for a period of one year. On average, participants excluded themselves from 22 shops each.
GambleAware’s report (read it here) found that 83% of those who’d signed up for the MOSES program found it effective in reducing or stopping their gambling activity, while 71% said they’d made no attempt to gamble at any of the betting shops they’d nominated.
Although 29% of participants did attempt to gamble at a nominated betting shop, only 5% were successful. Most participants (86%) understood that the onus was on them to stay away from betting shops while a stroppy 7% denied any personal responsibility in the matter.
Some gamblers complained that the MOSES program should allow them to exclude from all betting shops, but operators pointed out that this would likely require some electronic form of identifying customers, as staff can’t be expected to remember thousands of excluded names and faces.
Betting shop staff, who are instructed to review the roster of self-excluded gamblers at the start of each shift, expressed confidence in their ability to identify participants. However, shops in higher traffic areas were less confident and warned that identification would grow more difficult as the system expanded. Staff turnover was also cited as a potential problem area.
Participants found little fault with the MOSES registration process, with 71% completing it in a single phone call, while another 24% sealed the deal after a followup call from the betting operator. Many of those who weren’t home to receive these calls praised the operator for discretion in leaving messages that didn’t identify the purpose of the call.
More than half (54%) of those surveyed said they’d opted to also exclude themselves from online betting sites, a larger number than those who excluded themselves from casinos (23%), arcades (12%), telephone betting services (10%) and bingo halls (3%).
Nearly half of those who signed up for MOSES were told about it by betting shop staff, while a further 16% learned about it from information material distributed in betting shops. Virtually no one reported learning about MOSES through the mainstream media.
Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) CEO Malcolm George called the GambleAware report “a highly encouraging result and another example of why betting shops offer gamblers the safest and most responsible place to have a bet.”
The UK government is currently undertaking its Triennial Review of the gaming industry, which is expected to call for further curbs on the use of fixed-odds betting terminals in betting shops, which generally account for 50% or more of retail revenue.