Gambling Addiction – European Self-Exclusion Programs the US Can Follow

In the past four years, a sport betting legalization boom has occurred in the US following the repeal of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that banned wagering on sports on a federal level. When this law disappeared into the annals of history, many states almost instantly started legalizing sports gambling, and now more than thirty have done so.

However, the legal situation regarding allowing online casino gaming in the US is different, with the DOJ letting US territories legally permit this activity for their residents in 2011. That door got opened after an official DOJ interpretation of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. Though, so far, only six states have allowed this practice, with Connecticut being the latest to join the fold consisting of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and Michigan.

Still, the gaming climate in North America is undoubtedly changing, with the surge of crypto casinos and this pastime becoming less taboo than ever. Hence, this is an ideal time for US authorities to look into the type of self-exclusion system the world’s most massive economy needs to ensure that its citizens don’t experience some of the harm online gambling may bring. That is why in the subheadings below, European responsible gaming models get presented, and a conclusion follows concerning what approach may be the best for the US to emulate.

GamStop’s Partnership with the UKGC

The UK Gambling Commission, better known under the acronym UKGC, got founded in 2007, replacing the Gaming Board of Great Britain, operating as a part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Its inception got predicted in the Gambling Act of 2005. In 2020, the UKGC announced a formal partnership with the National Online Self Exclusion Scheme, the creators of GamStop, for every UKGC-regulated platform to obligatory participate in the GamStop system.

GamStop is essentially a self-exclusion database. Every UK gambler that decides they are no longer in control of their impulses regarding online gaming fun can activate a self-exclusion ban via GamStop on their chosen site. Once this ban goes live, it is irreversible. A self-excluded UK gambler can no longer use any site licensed by the UKGC until his ban period elapses. Every UKGC online casino and sportsbook shares this database of excluded players, and they will not allow them to sign-up with their service if they find someone’s name on this list. UKGC sites mandate that all gamblers provide identity verification documents on sign-up. That is what makes this system work.

In the past two years, the UKGC has chosen to implement various unpopular gaming site measures, attempting to curb rising gambling addiction rates in Britain. It has incorporated wait times of two and a half seconds between slot spins and removed auto-play. Now, rumors are that it is considering telling operators they must conduct source of funds checks. These drastic moves have caused many to navigate to offshore top crypto casinos that allow more liberating gameplay, ones with few restrictions overall.

What System Do GlüStV and the SGA Use?

It should get noted that the UKGC has a reputation as the most stringent regulator on the Old Continent. The only body in this industry that comes close in diligently enforcing its rules is the Swedish Gambling Authority, established by the Swedish Gambling Act, tasked to license and monitor gambling operators that are a part of the Swedish Gambling Association (Sper). In truth, the SGA copies many of the criteria and measures that UKGC pioneers. And it similarly strictly ensures that its licensees follow them. Though, the SGA introduced its Spelpaus self-exclusion system at the start of 2019, a year before the UKGC. However, GamStop was supposed to debut as early as 2017. Yet, multiple delays kept pushing back its launch. Spelpaus operates virtually identically to GamStop. But now, the SGA announced that they are amidst a testing phase of Spelpaus 2.0, an update that makes the program more user-friendly and provides better quality guidance on problem gambling.

In 2020, Germany decided to update its State Treaty on Gambling (GlüStV) to amend it, permitting states to allow previously illegal games of chance over the internet, plus poker. The new rules came into power in July 2021, boasting a one thousand monthly limit for gambling fun for all German gaming fanatics and a nationwide database monitored by a supervisory authority. The centralized OASIS system debuted in August 2021, featuring a minimum self-exclusion term of one year. Like Spelpaus and GamStop, this is another universal self-exclusion scheme.

Self-Exclusion at MGA Sites

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is likely the most renowned international regulator in the interactive gaming sector. It appeared on the scene in 2001 and has slowly gained substantial footing in this industry. Recently, it has lost some ground to Curacao’s four regulators due to its pushback on licensing Bitcoin casino sites. That has now changed, with the Malta Financial Services Authority granting Virtual Financial Assets licenses to crypto payment providers allowing them to team up with gambling sites and helping them transition to BTC casino platforms.

The thing about the MGA, regarding self-exclusion, is that it has no universal system. Each MGA-licensed casino can have its program, but self-exclusion at that specific platform does not stop gamblers from registering at another MGA-regulated hub and continuing playing there. Moreover, receiving responsible gaming assistance on these platforms often involves reaching out to the support staff to activate deposit limits, cool-down periods, and more.

Is There Responsible Gambling at Crypto Casinos?

Yes. It works almost identically as on MGA gaming sites. The best crypto casinos like those available at also let users set deposit/loss/session limits inside their profile pages and self-exclude from there. The ban timeframes usually vary from crypto casino to crypto casino but are seldom below six months and more than three years.

Regulators in countries like Curacao and Panama license the most famous online crypto casino hubs. And these organizations are far laxer when it comes to measures aimed at protecting gamblers from overindulging in gaming entertainment. They have few gameplay restrictions, no promo ones, and more gambling products than the casinos in the markets mentioned above. That is why most players from strictly regulated markets look to play on these platforms. Although, it should get noted that they should never get used for bypassing an active self-exclusion ban.

What Scheme Best Suits the US?

Ideally, universal self-exclusion, like the one in the UK (GamStop), would benefit the US the most in terms of limiting the dangers of gambling. It will do the most to stop the country’s residents from falling into financial peril and undergoing sizeable emotional stress, common unwanted byproducts of gambling for people who cannot control themselves when betting.

That said, the differences in state laws and the unwillingness of US lawmakers to pass a federal one concerning games of chance is what is stopping a nationwide self-exclusion database from becoming a US reality any time soon. State ones are the best parties expressing concerns about this issue, at this moment, can hope for. Meaning schemes mimicking those in developed European markets. Unfortunately, these do not stop gamblers from exploring crypto casino hubs operating from foreign lands.

To Wrap Up

While many see regulation as a debate on the subject of protection versus freedom, it goes without saying that in some situations, the government should step in and save people from themselves. Thus, some sort of self-exclusion is necessary. While it is clear that universal US bans are not something that will happen overnight, the US market remains a tightly controlled one, promoting responsible gaming. So, whatever happens in the years to come, it is sure to develop more, with player safety in mind.

Antonio Cruz

Antonio Cruz, with a Master's in Journalism from the University of Florida, has made a mark with his immense contribution to sports journalism for over a decade. His journey began at a leading sports broadcasting firm in 2012, where he honed his sports reporting and analysis skills. Antonio joined our team in 2018, bringing a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective on athletic performance and trends. Outside of work, he's an avid marathon runner and coaches youth soccer, blending his passion for sports with community engagement.

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