Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Does Casino Self-Exclusion Work? (I)

I guess it would be helpful to know, once you start a blog about self-exclusion, if self-exclusion is effective at reducing the gambling problems of "disassociated people." (Employing the phrase "disassociated people" for those who self-exclude from gambling comes from the state of Missouri's self-exclusion program.) I want to lay out some of the evidence that speaks to this issue, but it will take a long time to do it justice; hence, this post is numbered (I), as further, related posts are anticipated.

OK, effective relative to what? It is a commonplace in addiction therapy of all types that relapse is quite frequent: for drug addiction treatment, something like fifty percent of patients relapse, often multiple times. By these standards, self-exclusion looks like a pretty effective treatment for pathological gambling. Of course, relapse rates depend on details of the program, including enforcement: how easy is it to sneak back in to a casino from which you have self-excluded and gamble? In many jurisdictions, especially those that do not demand an ID from all entrants, it looks to be fairly easy.

One early study that speaks to effectiveness is by Ladouceur et al. (2000). The authors survey some 220 self-excluders. They find that these people overwhelmingly tend to meet the criteria for being pathological gamblers. Nonetheless, according to self-reports, 30% of these self-excluders managed complete abstinence from gambling during their stint as disassociated people. Further, self-exclusion is quite popular with those who have tried it: a large majority report a favorable impression of their self-exclusion program. Support remained impressive, but not so universal, among those who had self-excluded more than once. This particular report doesn't say much about the effectiveness of those who self-excluded but did not remain totally abstinent -- but even they can greatly reduce their gambling-related problems with the help of self-exclusion. As with other forms of addiction treatment, some people self-exclude from gambling without harboring any intention to embark on abstinence. These people hope to use self-exclusion as a way to help them control their gambling, not eliminate it.

Other posts in this series:

Does Casino Self-Exclusion Work? (V)

Does Casino Self-Exclusion Work? (IV)

Does Casino Self-Exclusion Work? (III)

Does Casino Self-Exclusion Work? (II)

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