The new legislation in Romania places particular emphasis on responsible gambling and Rombet supports this direction imposed by the National Bureau of Gambling, through efforts that the association and, implicitly, its members, constantly make in order to educate and protect people at risk when gambling, especially young people.
In this regard, it is necessary not only to use a wider range of methods and tools, but also to use them with maximum efficiency, one of the methods that are not being fully exploited, according to Rombet representatives, is the self-exclusion. This strategy implies that the player, once he realized he had a gambling problem, includes himself for a certain period of time on a „black list” of locations where he usually goes to gamble, thus self-eliminating his access at the object of his addiction.
Although opposed by some who argue that a person with gambling problems is unlikely to voluntarily self-exclude, the method remains extremely important in responsible gaming strategy, provided it is applied correctly and consistently supported. „Even if it is already used by some gambling operators in our country, we believe that this method of self-elimination from participating in gambling is not used enough,” said Mr. Dan Iliovici, senior vice president of Rombet.
Romanian representative’s opinion is supported also by recent international studies in the field which emphasize the idea that self-exclusion is a useful tool, but which is not receiving the full attention it deserves.
In addition, not sufficiently explained and promoted, it was found that gamblers experiencing problems do not fully understand this method and they apply it only as a last resort after the gambling problems have opened the road to addiction.
Marisa Fogarty, member of the center of Gambling Research at the Australian National University and author of the study, believes that „if the public would understand what the benefits of self-limiting are, it would turn much earlier to this instrument, long before the situation worsens and their lives take a turn in a negative way.
In order for the self-limiting to function, it requires that two essential conditions are met. First of all, the player must acknowledge the problem, and the self exclusion is clear evidence in this regard. And secondly, it is mandatory that they receive the necessary support from others to overcome addiction.
„Typically, people who manage to self-eliminate are those who seek help to get through the difficult moments when they are tempted to fall into the trap of an irresponsible game. It is therefore imperative that troubled gamblers attend monthly counseling sessions to prevent relapse and attend support groups„ said Cristina Anghel, psychologist and consultant at Rombet.
International statistics tell us that, although there are relapses and gamblers sometimes try to access gaming sites even after they have self-excluded themselves, they are isolated incidents that do not repeat.
But support from professionals, family and even from the operators interested in the health of their customers, must be a constant. Moreover, even after the expiration of the self-exclusion period, the return in the gaming of the player should take place only after the psychologist made an assessment of risk of potential problems with gambling.
„We believe that both during the period he dose not have effective access to the gambling halls and after the expiry of this term, gamblers must receive counseling, guidance and, where appropriate, treatment for the behavior of pathological gaming,” said Rombet representatives. They also added: „We should not ignore the involvement of the families of those concerned, informing and educating them on how to talk to people with gambling problems and offer their support.”
Currently, self-limiting knows its own „limitations” in our country, meaning there is no national database containing the names of all the players who were self-eliminated. Great Britain, a country with a tradition of responsible gaming projects, tried since last year to centralize these lists with names of the players, which until then were owned by each operator separately. And this spring, The Association of British Bookmakers even launched such a common platform for self-limiting, targeting players from betting and bingo sectors.
„We feel that the self-exclusion method might be more effective if a database of all players who have requested this measure of protection would be provided and each operator would have access to this information. Thus, operators would have an extra method to identify players at risk and might lead to a responsible gaming program type, where to find proper support, said Mr. Dan Alexandru Ghita, Rombet President.