, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 505-518
Date: 25 Sep 2008

Improved Self-exclusion Program: Preliminary Results

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Abstract

The gambling industry has offered self-exclusion programs for quite a long time. Such measures are designed to limit access to gaming opportunities and provide problem gamblers with the help they need to cease or limit their gambling behaviour. However, few studies have empirically evaluated these programs. This study has three objectives: (1) to observe the participation in an improved self-exclusion program that includes an initial voluntary evaluation, phone support, and a mandatory meeting, (2) to evaluate satisfaction and usefulness of this service as perceived by self-excluders, (3) to measure the preliminary impact of this improved program. One hundred sixteen self-excluders completed a questionnaire about their satisfaction and their perception of the usefulness during the mandatory meeting. Among those participants, 39 attended an initial meeting. Comparisons between data collected at the initial meeting and data taken at the final meeting were made for those 39 participants. Data showed that gamblers chose the improved self-exclusion program 75% of the time; 25% preferred to sign a regular self-exclusion contract. Among those who chose the improved service, 40% wanted an initial voluntary evaluation and 37% of these individuals actually attended that meeting. Seventy percent of gamblers came to the mandatory meeting, which was a required condition to end their self-exclusion. The majority of participants were satisfied with the improved self-exclusion service and perceived it as useful. Major improvements were observed between the final and the initial evaluation on time and money spent, consequences of gambling, DSM-IV score, and psychological distress. The applicability of an improved self-exclusion program is discussed and, as shown in our study, the inclusion of a final mandatory meeting might not be so repulsive for self-excluders. Future research directives are also proposed.