In late May, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced the launch of a “self-help tool” that will allow potential problem gamblers to voluntarily exclude themselves from participating in the state’s online gambling activities including online poker, online casino games as well as online sports betting.

The state’s online sports betting has already gone live – SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia is the very first to receive a go-ahead from the gaming control board to proceed with its activities after a three-day soft launch or testing phase. Online poker and online casino games, on the other hand, are set to officially go online on July 15, 2019, and it is expected to attract even more gamers. Consumer protection is a key component for any gambling industry and the fact that Pennsylvania is taking it so seriously makes a lot of sense.

According to a statement delivered by the gaming control board’s officials when the program was unveiled, this online gambling self-exclusion program has been modeled after a parallel self-exclusion program that has been in operation in conjunction with the 12 licensed casinos in the state. This land-based casino self-exclusion program has been pretty successful and is said to have assisted thousands of gamblers in the state. While the online gambling self-exclusion program is separate from the land-based casino program, it will offer most of the features of the latter.

The Terms

Online gamblers who wish to self-exclude can choose a 1-year, 5-year or a lifetime ban for online gambling. Once on the list, the people who have self-excluded will no longer be able to place wagers at any Pennsylvania online casino. The online casino will also be required to deny the people on the list any gaming privileges, player club membership, and even complimentary goods and services. In addition to that, the online gambling operators will need to “ensure that persons on the iGaming Self-Exclusion list do not receive solicitations, targeted mailings, telemarketing promotions, player club materials or other promotional materials relating to iGaming activities.”

To register on the program, one will need:

  • Name, including any aliases or nicknames.
  • Date of Birth.
  • Address of current residence.
  • Telephone number.
  • Social Security number, when voluntarily provided in accordance with section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a).
  • Physical description, including height, weight, gender, hair color, eye color and any other physical characteristic that may assist in identification.
  • Government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport.

Why It Is Necessary

While gambling has been a major revenue source for the Keystone State, the fact that there are increased options for people to gamble has resulted in increasing levels of gambling addiction. The self-exclusion program is, therefore, a vital initiative that will help in ensuring that the problem does not get out of hand.