The Game Day Responsible Betting

Self-Exclusion in Sports Betting | A Lifeline for Responsible Gaming

Fueled by easy access to the internet, readily accessible mobile apps, and the proliferation of online gambling platforms, the rapid growth of the sports betting industry has created both opportunities and challenges for bettors.

While the convenience of sports betting can provide fun and excitement, it has also exposed vulnerable individuals to the risks of problem gambling.

Below, we explain the debate around self-exclusion as a proactive step to promote responsible sports betting; examine its implementation in legislative and industry efforts, and inspect its effectiveness as a tool to mitigate problem gambling.

What is Self-Exclusion for Sports Wagering?

Self-exclusion is a voluntary step taken by a sports bettor who identifies as a problem gambler or shows early concern about betting behavior. An individual who wants to start this procedure can request to be restricted from gambling activities for a pre-determined period.

In the context of sports betting, self-exclusion can encompass both land-based betting shops and online platforms.

Self-exclusion agreements typically require individuals to provide information on personal bank accounts and other proprietary information (including a recent photograph) to gaming operators. Establishments will in turn halt the bettor from accessing their services within the exclusion window.

Benefits of Self-Exclusion in Sports Betting

Decreasing gambling-related harm

By limiting or barring access to betting tools, self-exclusion can help someone potentially gain control over their gambling behavior, diminish the risks of financial ruin, and ease gambling-related mental health issues.

Encouraging self-reflection

Self-exclusion can prompt individuals to critically evaluate their gambling habits, foresee potential problems, and seek appropriate help if determined necessary.

Enhancing industry responsibility

The adoption of self-exclusion programs by sports betting operators demonstrates their commitment to responsible gambling and the well-being of their customers.

Implementation of Self-Exclusion Across Jurisdictions

Self-exclusion programs differ in structure, scope, and duration across various jurisdictions:

  • In the United States, the availability of self-exclusion programs varies by state: Some offer statewide self-exclusion databases, while others provide more localized options. New Jersey, for instance, offers self-exclusion for online gambling and sports betting with minimum exclusion periods of one or five years.
  • In the United Kingdom, for example, the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme GamStop allows individuals to exclude themselves from online gambling activities for a minimum period of six months, one year, or five years.
  • In Australia, the state of Victoria's self-exclusion program, operated by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, offers a customizable exclusion period ranging from one month to five years.

Effectiveness of Self-Exclusion

The effectiveness of self-exclusion as a tool for mitigating problem gambling remains an ongoing topic of research.

Studies have shown mixed results, with some indicating that self-exclusion programs can help individuals reduce their gambling behavior. Other investigations suggest that self-exclusion may have limited impact due to factors such as poor enforcement, lack of resources, and the availability of alternative gambling venues.

A published, comprehensive 2019 review of self-exclusion programs by the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction relayed mixed findings.

Generally, self-exclusion can prove successful for many individuals, but the strategy’s overall effectiveness to widely address problem gambling may be limited.

Inhibiting factors may include (1) lack of a unified, global self-exclusion system; (2) limited coverage from legal gambling operators; and (3) the absence of robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.


Though anyone who might be a problem gambler should take additional, regulated measures to address possible addictive behaviors, the practice of self-exclusion can serve as a vital portion of the plan to promote responsible gaming.

A unified effort from policymakers, regulators, and industry stakeholders would increase the possibility of widespread success in self-exclusion programs. This could be accomplished with refined, directed endeavors to address existing limitations; develop robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms; and prioritize education and awareness campaigns to encourage responsible betting.

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