Current self-exclusion measures in high-street shops are ineffective

An undercover investigation by BBC reporter Rob Cave found that self-exclusion schemes in bookmakers’ high street shops are currently highly ineffective and not being enforced by staff.

Multi operator self exclusion scheme logo

The multi-operator self-exclusion scheme is currently in use for exclusions across Britain’s high-street bookies. © Multi operator self exclusion scheme.

Cave visited Grimsby in Lincolnshire, a small town with a high proliferation of betting shops. Cave self-excluded himself from 21 different shops from a number of operators.

After self-excluding himself from each of the shops, Cave went back to each to see if he would still be able to gamble there. He was able to bet in 16 of the shops before he was recognised and requested to stop betting and leave the shop. In total, Rob Cave was only asked to leave from 2 of the 21 shops.

Speaking about the undercover investigation and the ease in which he was still able to bet in the premises despite self-excluding, Cave said:

It begs the question – is a piece of paper with a name and a photograph on it, enough of a solution to help those who want to stop gambling when the fun stops.Rob Cave, BBC journalist

Is the current self-exclusion process enough?

The piece of paper the reporter refers to is the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme designed by the Gambling Commission to allow gamblers to exclude themselves from numerous operators easily. The scheme passes a photograph and the details of a person who self-excludes themselves to betting shops local to where the gambler lives and works.

The operators of the self-exclusion scheme is The Senet Group, who had this to say on the findings of the investigation:

We need to work out what we can do that’s better. The results [of the investigation] are a bit of a wake up call.Statement, The Senet Group

The ease in which people are able to bet also raises the question of the proliferation and number of betting shops, especially in poorer areas. This issue has been widely discussed, with politicians and local authorities currently discussing whether the numbers could be curbed.

The Association of British Bookmakers also believes the number of betting shops to be a large contributor to the issue. Responding to the investigation, they said:

We accept that the current self-exclusion scheme is not without flaws however we are continually developing improved systems. Removing the convenience of being able to go to a shop near where they live will be of significant benefit in controlling or ceasing gambling.Statement, The Association of British Bookmakers

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