Thursday, September 8, 2011

Avoiding and Evading Exclusion Orders

The British Columbia report we lately have been drawing upon (71-page pdf here) indicates that most people who chose to self-exclude from BC casinos nevertheless continued to gamble, and on a somewhat regular (though not daily) basis, during their exclusion. Most of those who gambled during their exclusion did so at casinos, too, although some stuck to lottery games or keno. Many casino visits were made outside of BC, so these trips avoided but did not evade exclusion orders. Most self-exclusion clients did not evade their commitment. Nonetheless, most casino gambling that did take place during exclusion apparently occurred in BC casinos, in violation of exclusion agreements.

The self-exclusion clients generally -- and correctly -- believed that they could sneak back into BC casinos, even if most did not try. Further, those who were caught trying to gamble at a BC casino were escorted out, but generally no further sanction was applied; for the most part, even wins were paid out to excluded gamblers. Attempts to evade exclusion orders were highly skewed, with about ten percent of excluded gamblers persistently (at least weekly) trying to enter BC casinos, and much time of casino security personnel was devoted to trying to track these persistent violators. The BC report, not surprisingly, calls for improved detection and more sanctions for breaking an exclusion order. The additional sanctions should be of the helping, not the punishing variety, in keeping with the "behavioral triage" approach.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Effectiveness of Self-Exclusion in British Columbia

The report (71-page pdf here) noted in the previous post utilized focus groups consisting of providers of self-exclusion, as well as telephone interviews of self-excluded clients. About one-third of the participants completely abstained from gambling during their exclusion (which lasted, at their discretion, either six months, or one, two, or three years). The methodology does not provide, it seems, a clean comparison between the extent of gambling problems pre- and post-exclusion, but the data that are provided suggest that those who continued to gamble, by and large, gambled less frequently, and still found that the self-exclusion program was helpful. (After the exclusion period was over, very few clients remained abstinent from gambling; again, however, the extent of their gambling seemed to be lower than before the exclusion.) The clients were asked if they were satisfied with the self-exclusion program, and more than 80% reported satisfaction; an even higher percentage indicated that they would recommend the program to others.

Less-than-Voluntary Exclusion

The Self-Exclusion blog has made a point of detailing exclusion orders, particularly in Singapore, that are not fully voluntary. A recent report (71-page pdf here) on self exclusion from casinos in British Columbia notes (page 14) that people who administer the program do not see all participants as being uncoerced: "...not all clients signed up completely voluntarily as some were pressured by family or friends, while others signed up because they needed to show someone else (e.g. the bank, a judge) that they were doing something to address their gambling problem." The coerced excluders also were viewed as being the most likely to try to violate their exclusion order.

The April, 2011 report with this information was prepared for the British Columbia Lottery Corporation by the BC Centre for Social Responsibility. The report provides both a fine review of previous work on gambling self-exclusion and a new longitudinal analysis on the British Columbia program; I hope to draw on this source for some more posts soon.