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Is Pennsylvania's Self-Exclusion Legislation Effective or Not?


As each state contemplates the legalization of online and sport gambling, there has to be concern about the prospects of problem gambling issues. Gambling as a form of adult entertainment is fun and exciting for most people. Unfortunately, there are gamblers who eventually lose control of their gambling. Many times, this results in the individual having significant financial and relationship problems.

Through legislation, the industry's answer to the potential for problem gambling issues is self-exclusion regulations. In fact, we see many states including integrating such legislation with the passing of sports or online gambling legislation. The question remains, "is this approach effective?"

Using Pennsylvania as an example, the state's legislators did include self-exclusion rules as part of recent efforts to legalize certain forms of gambling within the state's borders. After careful analysis, it's clear that the rules currently in place have both pros and cons. This matters because other states are looking to model its self-exclusion rules after what Pennsylvania has in place.

The Pros

Pennsylvania's self-exclusion rules offer two positive aspects. First, gamblers have the option to request self-exclusion through the state's online sites. Problem gamblers should really appreciate this option because it spares them the embarrassment of admitting they have a problem in person. This will surely create a situation where more problems gamblers will make use of the option.

The second positive aspect relates to choices. Gamblers will really appreciate the ability to choose from a larger variety of self-exclusion options, choosing the one that best addresses their goal. Gamblers can choose for one-year, five-year and lifetime exclusions, as well as a cooling off option.

The Cons 

The good news is there's only one significant problem with the current legislation. The bad news is it's a significant problem.

Pennsylvania has a number of casinos, race track, online casinos and lottery sites. If a gamblers want to self-exclude from all gambling, it's not going to be an easy process. If fact, the gambler will have to contact every gambling venue and initiate the self-exclusion option separately. The fact the state's gambling sites and venues are not linked to a common self-exclusion database creates a lot of work for the gambler who is already dealing with issues. There's little sense of excluding from one site if access is still available on another site. At the end of the day, the required effort will demotivate even the sickest gamblers from taking the proper steps to protect themselves.

It's a difficult problem that screams out for a better solution. The industry will surely be looking to other states for a better self-exclusion process.

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