Self exclusion programmes upgraded in the UK

The pressure is on the gambling companies, which may exploit addicts.

Last week, a number of new rules aimed to protect problem gamblers were introduced by the British regulators.

UK.- New regulations were introduced last week to protect problem gamblers in the UK. The Gambling Commission is discussing the penalties the gambling firms will face in case they don’t comply with the new order.

A recent study by Cambridge University found that problem gambling rates raised to as high as 11.6 percent among the homeless, who are considered a vulnerable audience. Furthermore, according to the latest Gambling Commission research, problem gambling affects 0.5 percent of the adult population, about 280,000 people, with men and young people particularly at risk.

One of the measures includes a self-exclusion system through which gambling addicts would tell betting companies not to take their money. This new system will give addicts the chance to sign up to a central register shared by bookmakers, rather than excluding themselves from individual firms.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and former addict to fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) himself, points out that the self-exclusion system relies on staff remembering the faces of problem gamblers, who in some cases amount to dozens in one area. “They’ve simply made it easier to sign up to a system that doesn’t work,” he said. “The vast majority of self-exclusions are related to FOBTs, so wouldn’t it be more effective to look at the products causing addiction?”

Sarah Harrison, who took over as head of the Gambling Commission last year, expressed regarding new rules and penalties: “My message has been that if you do not learn the lessons of recent cases and raise standards, we will intervene further and this is likely to mean taking much tougher enforcement action.”