Pennsylvania’s Responsible Play Online Portal Simplifies Self-Exclusion

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has launched a new portal allowing individuals to self-exclude from the state’s regulated gambling market with ease.

The “user-friendly” online self-exclusion system that appeared last week is the latest update to a program founded in 2006.

Initially, those self-exclusion efforts focused only on Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar casinos. At the time, signing up also required in-person registration.

The program expanded in 2017 to include self-exclusion options for online gambling (including sports betting), Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs), and online Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) as part of Pennsylvania’s Gaming Expansion Act.

In the spring of 2020, program registrations moved online out of necessity.

With the updated portal, individuals needing a break from play can easily self-exclude (temporarily or long-term) from any state-regulated gambling.

Consequences of Bypassing Exclusion a Deterrent

The PGCB oversees all gambling in the state, including:

  • 17 land-based casinos
  • 20 online casino brands
  • Sports betting, retail & online
  • Truck stop VGTs
  • Online daily fantasy sports

It maintains four self-exclusion registries:

  • Retail casinos & sportsbooks
  • Online casinos & sportsbooks
  • VGTs
  • Fantasy sports

Gaming facilities and operators must not take wagers from a self-excluded person for as long as they remain on the registry.

An investigation ensues if an operator is discovered to have accepted bets from an excluded person.

Elizabeth Lanza, director of PGCB’s Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling (OCPG), told Bonus that operators may face enforcement action depending on the investigation results.

As in other states with similar registries, individuals caught gambling while on an exclusion list may face criminal trespass charges. The state also confiscates winnings accumulated during the infraction. This applies to both self-exclusion and involuntary exclusion registries.

Bonus asked Lanza if the risk of criminal charges could deter those who decide not to self-exclude. However, the PGCB currently has no data on why potential excluders choose not to complete the process.

Even so, Lanza said that those who’ve used self-exclusion tend to report that it has been helpful to them:

For the most part, we have received more positive feedback than negative from those enrolled in the program. It seems that many individuals find the policy on citing those who violate their ban as a great deterrent from gambling.

Unfortunately, we really have no way of knowing how many individuals decided not to enroll because of this same policy.

A few years back, there was talk of bringing gambling treatment diversion courts (GTDCs) to Pennsylvania.

Diversion treatment courts provide an alternative to incarceration for non-violent criminals whose crimes result from addiction.

But so far, they are not an option in Pennsylvania.

However, OCPG, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania (CCGP) want that to change, added Lanza.

We (employees from OCPG, DDAP, CCGP) are still advocating for a trial gambling treatment diversion court in PA.

PA Joins NJ in Boosting Self-Exclusion Access

In the meantime, all that Pennsylvanians wishing to enroll in self-exclusion online must do is visit www.responsibleplay.pa.gov.

There they can easily:

  • Enroll in one, several, or all self-exclusion programs
  • Request removal from the casino self-exclusion program
  • Extend the period of their self-exclusion period
  • View their self-exclusion documents and status in real-time
  • Update personal information (name or address change)
  • Access information on gambling addiction and problem gambling support

Notably, individuals signing up are required to upload a selfie and a picture of a photo ID during the process. They must also receive Lexus Nexus verification to confirm their identity.

Recently, New Jersey made similar efforts to simplify its self-exclusion enrolment process.

During his keynote at April’s East Coast Gaming Congress, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced those changes. Additionally, he said the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) would hire a responsible gaming coordinator.

At the time, Platkin explained the commitment to enhance problem gambling support:

As New Jersey’s gaming and sports wagering industries continue to grow and mature, so do our obligations to assist patrons who are at risk.

Self-Exclusion Only a Piece of PA’s Gambling Supports

Pennsylvania doesn’t only depend on self-exclusion to support its gamblers.

Under the PGCB, OCPG has also worked with the Office of Communications to develop educational public health educational campaigns.

And as director of OCPG, its Lanza’s responsibility to ensure online operators have an approved compulsive gambling plan.

To be approved, each plan must detail the following:

  • Training received by the casino and online operator employees to identify signs and  symptoms of gambling disorder and understand responsible gaming supports
  • Policies and procedures for identifying potential harmful behavior and identifying and removing underage, self-excluded, and excluded individuals
  • Responsible advertising policies
  • Participation in outreach by operators

Additionally, all online play in the state has options to enable self-imposed limits on deposits, wagers, spending, and duration of play.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s available treatment services, visit the responsible play site or call 1-800-GAMBLER, text 800GAM, or chat via chat.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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