UK gambling self-exclusion database
By Warwick Bartlett
Alistair Quigley from the Gambling Commission made an excellent presentation at the Remote Gaming Association (RGA) AGM on Monday 17 November.

He has been tasked with bringing forward the Government’s and the Commission’s commitment to having a database for those that wish to exclude themselves from gambling services. 

The first task is to organise Internet gambling. However at the same time the Casino Industry Forum is embarking on its own self-exclusion database.
A working group has been set up with the RGA, Bet365, Skybet, William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair.
A third party software company is to tender for the work, and the major gambling software companies are invlolved also because they will have to provide an interface with the main programme. 
Apparently it all seemed so easy to start with but as time progressed complications have arisen. First of all the system will have to cope with lots of transactions, not to mention potential for fraud and various legalities that must be overcome, the Data Protection Act being just one.
The site, we were told, must enable the gambler to go to their choice of gambling website to exclude his or herself. An option must also be provided where the gambler can go to a central non-gambling site to exclude, thus removing the temptation to gamble again. The individual must be allowed to change their own data and some operators with huge databases will have to keep some data locally.
 
One of the conditions to be met involves marketing. Sites must not market to people who have been excluded. How this will work in practise I have no idea but it does seem that these days we have so much sub-contracting of services that companies outside of the operating company must have access to the gambling exclusion database too. This could easily lead to a breach in security.
All of this is not going to be cheap. It will cost £3 million to set up and a recurring cost of £1 million annually. This equates to an increase in the licence fee of £25,000 were it to be loaded as a fixed cost per licence.
The self-exclusion database is a good thing to do. But that does not mean you should accept it without question or concern.
If you were a problem gambler and wished to self-exclude, would you want your name to be on that database? I would not. Were there to be a breach in security and the database stolen and made public, your credit rating would be ruined and your reputation with friends and employers would damaged. If the US National Security Agency cannot protect its data from the likes of Mr Snowden, one has to wonder how the Gambling Commission will do so. 
But the acid test is effectiveness. How effective will the database be at preventing addictive gambling behaviour? It will go some way to help that is for sure and worth doing on that basis. The weak link is that it is not joined up with the other self-exclusion databases that are being built separately by casinos and others. If a gambler excludes from Internet gambling but not from casinos, then it isn’t going to work.
If you are going to embark on such a project, you might as well do it properly. At present, the costs and risks would seem to outweigh the benefits.